Social work programs, practices, and policies typically assume that peoples’ lives progress through different developmental periods; for example, childhood, adolescence, and old age. This relatively linear progression tends to be marked by various tasks or social expectations that are considered normative and therefore regulate our actions. When considered as social constructions the inevitability of these periods and their meanings are brought into question. Further, the very idea of linear development can be thought of as a kind of “cause map” that is imposed on our lives.

This discussion group will problematize rather than assume developmental stages (or possibly even “development” or “life span”). Rather than focusing on whether developmental stages are “real,” they will address issues of function, benefit, and disadvantage. Group members also will begin imagining alternatives to a developmental view. For example, what if there was an alternative non-developmental language for describing humans? What if we did not categorize people by their chronological age but used other criteria? What might be the implications for education, practice, and research?

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