For instance, in social gatherings or functions, most adults tend to stay with people they know most especially during the initial moments of the gathering. Being around people they do not know makes most adults uneasy and they tend to seek comfort by staying in the company of those they know. Although adults may later on interact with others in the said social gathering, their initial tendency is to stick to people they know especially when they are in new and uncomfortable situations.
This behaviour can be explained by the theory in psychoanalysis known as the theory of attachment. Attachment is defined as, "A reciprocal, enduring tie between an infant and a caregiver, each of whom contributes to the quality of a relationship" (Papalia et al, 1998, p. 213). The said theory was first developed and explored by a British psychoanalyst by the name of John Bowlby. Later significant findings and developments to the said theory were developed by Bowlby's colleague, Mary Ainsworth. Their ideas and principles are the products of a multidisciplinary stance wherein psychoanalysis is integrated with elements of ethology, socio-biology, psychobiology, the cybernetic theory of control systems, and a modern structural approach to cognitive development.
The attachment theory may be sued to explain several of human actions and behavioural patterns given certain situations. Once of the areas where the attachment theory may be used is in the study of human learning particularly in the early stages.
It is in school where toddlers and kids get their chance to interact and socialize with others. Moreover, the school is the primary vehicle through which people get to expand their horizons especially during their early years. Most important of all, when the child first enters school, this is the first instance wherein the child may experience separation from his parents. It is for this very reason that Bowlby's theory of attachment is often studied in relation to the school and educational setting.
In this paper, a discussion of the various ideas and principles embedded in John Bowlby's theory of attachment as well as in the succeeding developments and advances made to it will be undertaken. Furthermore, this paper will attempt to discuss the attachment theory in the context of early childhood specifically with regards to the educational setting. The primary purpose of this discussion will be to explain and summarize John Bowlby's theory of attachment and to identify and pinpoint the said theory's significance in early childhood development particularly with regards to one's educational development.
John Bowlby's Theory of Attachment
In coming up with his theory of attachment, John Bowlby began his work in an attempt to understand and explain why infants experienced an intense amount of distress when they were separated from their parents. In his study, Bowlby observed that infants who had been separated from a parent would do certain and noticeable acts in order to prevent being separated from a parent or to re-establish proximity with a missing parent. These acts include crying, clinging, and/or frantically searching. Also, Bowlby characterized attachment as a, "lasting psychological connectedness between human beings" (Bowlby, 1969, p. 194).
Bowlby's work is the result of his effort to preserve some of the ideas of Sigmund Freud regarding relationships and early experiences. Freud asserted that the way an infant behaves was organized around managing ever-growing instinctual drives.