Many theorists have presented their own views on children. Behaviorists led by the prominent B.F. Skinner, John B. Watson, Edward Thondike, etc., see children as organisms that learn by reinforcement. The Maturationists, led by Jean-Jacques Rosseau, Maria Montessori, Friedrich Froebel, etc. see the child as like a seed that contains all the elements to produce a fruit if given the proper amounts of nutrients from the soil and water along with sunshine and an ideal climate (Brewer, 2001). The Constructivists, founded on the works of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, believe that children are not passive recipients of knowledge, rather, they actively work at organizing their experience into constructing their own learning.
In many ways, children have proven that they indeed are capable of many things originally unexpected of them. Constructivists are consistent in their belief that children’s capabilities in terms of learning can even match that of adult’s. Because of their clarity of thinking, unobstructed by pressures put on by society, they may even surpass the learning abilities of adults. “Children are seen as active and competent in their own learning, fully participatory in co-constructing their learning through social interactions, as opposed to this somehow being shaped by more knowledgeable others.” (Mitchell & Wild, 2004, p. 734)
In an effort to meet children’s developmental needs, the education of teachers is now putting emphasis on child-centered approaches. The growing awareness that children are indeed capable of becoming contributing members of society has prompted the UK government to consult children themselves, of things that matter to them most in order to be the basis of proposals for change. These key outcomes—being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and economic well-being are detailed in the Every Child Matters report