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Personality Traits and its Influence on Early Childhood Education

Updated October 13, 2020
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Personality Traits and its Influence on Early Childhood Education essay

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Introduction

Personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures – F. Scott Fitzgerald, (The Great Gatsby). An individual’s personality influences much of his life as well as others. In this research we explore what are the Big Five personality traits defining each. As an early childhood educator, understanding your personality type can prove useful in guiding career selection, having a better understanding of who you are as an individual. Hence, we explore how personality is assessed, via projective and objective measures.

Childhood is the most important phase of a child’s development. A child’s development is dependant on various aspects, one being the influence of the educator. Paying attention to how the personality of the educator influences the child’s development and understanding the characteristics which the child grows into.

Life is filled with events which impact our lives. Reflecting on my life, major life events have impacted my personality be it how I think, behave or the choices I make. It has played a major role in framing me in becoming the woman I am today. In this paper I share a brief autobiography and discuss how some of these events impacted me.

Remaining self-aware and focused in stressful times can seem difficult with improper planning. However, dedicating personal time and engaging in reflective activities can help an individual stay grounded. In this research, I discuss five ways I plan to engage in reflection in order to avoid burnout.

Literature Review

An individual’s personality is the unique characteristics of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors which make them different from others. Understanding that everyone has a different personality type, can prove useful in identifying one’s strengths and weaknesses, help to understand others and build healthy relationships.

Personality psychologists define personality in terms of five fundamental traits which are present, to some degree, in all individuals. Traits meaning the distinct characteristic belonging to an individual (“Trait | Definition of Trait by Lexico”). These five traits, often referred to as the Big Five are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion-introversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. It is often summarized by the acronym OCEAN.

Openness to experience describes the depth and complexity of a person’s mental life and experiences (John & Srivastava, 1999). It expresses an individual’s willingness to explore, try new things outside of their comfort zone. Persons who have a high openness to experience personality tend to be creative, they love learning, and are curious.

Conscientiousness is the trait which describes a person’s awareness of their behavior and its impact on themselves and others, therefore triggering them to act according to socially acceptable norms. Conscientious persons are goal oriented, act within guidelines and tend to be very organized.

Extraversion-introversion is the personality trait which has two converse factors it concerns where an individual draws their energy from and how they interact with others as a result of this. Extroverts draw their energy from interacting with others while introverts replenish themselves by avoiding others in their solitude. Extroverts tend to be very socially interactive persons, whilst introverts tend to be reserved.

An individual with the agreeableness personality trait relates to others well, they are more cooperative, and always aim to make peace with others. It is also likely for an agreeable person to sacrifice their needs just to make peace with others.

The final trait of the big five is neuroticism also referred to as emotionality, it encompasses confidence, anxiety and emotional stability (“Neuroticism | Psychology Today”). Those who have a high neurotic personality tend to have low self-esteem, worry and prone to anxiety.

Determining one’s personality type can be done by undergoing a personality assessment. Psychologists aim to quantify personality through two types of assessments, projective measures and objective measures. Projective tests are personality tests that are used to identify underlying personality traits, whereas objective tests such as self-report measures, rely on an individual’s personal responses and are relatively free of rater bias (“Assessing Personality | Boundless Psychology”). Projective personality tests, based on Freudian psychology, were designed to maximize ambiguity to allow the person to reveal unconscious aspects of their personality (Lumen). Two of the most popular projective measures are the Thematic Apperception Measure and the Rorschach test. The Rorschach test, developed by Herman Rorschach, consisted of dripping ink on a piece of paper then folding the paper over to replicate the design on the other half of the paper, creating an ink blot. During the test, the participant was asked to identify what images they saw on the blot and what each aspect represented. The mysterious workings produced by the ink blot was said to draw out what was in a person’s mind. As the test aimed to determine, less of the specific things we see rather, that of our general approach to perception. This test can be used to examine a person’s personality characteristics and emotional functioning and is thought to measure unconscious attitudes and motivations (“Assessing Personality | Boundless Psychology”).Another projective personality test, which works in a similar way to the Rorschach test is The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). Therapists selected a set of black and white cards with ambiguous scenes on them. They were then showed to the patient and asked them to create a story based on what they saw. They were asked to discuss what they perceived the feelings of the characters were, the backstory behind the image and then come up with a resolution to the scene portrayed. Like the Rorschach test, the results are thought to indicate a person’s personality characteristics and emotional functioning.

An objective test, however, is a psychological test which assess the individual’s characteristics based on a series of structured questions which utilize a restricted response format (“Assessing Personality | Boundless Psychology”). This method is said to be independent of rater bias, in that the examiner or person asking the questions have no influence on the responses. Two of the most popular objective tests are The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and The Revised Neo Pi (personality inventory).

The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is a self-report inventory designed to identify a person’s personality type, strengths, and preferences (“Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: The 16 Personality Types”). The MBTI model entails ninety, force-choice questions, which assess personality across four aspects: attitudes, the perceiving function, sensing intuition and the judging function.

Extraversion-Introversion, the attitude function, measures whether someone is outgoing and action-oriented or composed and thought-oriented. It describes how people interact with the world around them. Extroverts source their energies from social interactions and are action oriented. Whereas introverts enjoy spending time alone. The second aspect is the perceiving function, sensing- intuition. This measures whether someone understands and interprets new information using their five senses or intuition. Third is the judging function, Thinking-Feeling. This measures whether one tends to make decisions based on rational thought or empathic feeling. Finally, lifestyle preferences, Judging-Perceiving. This measures whether a person relates to the outside world primarily using their judging function (which is either thinking or feeling) or their perceiving function (which is either sensing or intuition).

The Neo Pi is another objective personality test, it is designed to measure personality traits using the five-factor model. It encompasses two hundred and forty questions. According to the five-factor model, the five dimensions of personality lies along a continuum of opposing poles and include Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

Teaching is one of the most complicated jobs. It requires a lot of time, preparation, a broad spectrum of knowledge across various fields, dedication and most importantly passion for the craft of teaching. No doubt an effective teacher possesses certain traits which grasp the attention of their students and motivate them to be engaged in lesson and therefore develop academically. According to Rudolf Steiner, childhood is the most important phase in a child’s life. Therefore, a child’s development is dependent on the environment in which he/she grows into but more importantly, the people with whom the child interacts with. Children learn what they see. An expressive, sympathetic, kind teacher who engages her students would grasp their attention rather than one who is introverted and less cooperative. Therefore, the child would learn these traits and so develop them as part of their own personality.

Another aspect of a teacher’s personality affecting a child’s development is the way they react to their students’ needs. A child would spend a significant amount of time daily with their teacher and they would depend on their teacher as the adult in the classroom to address their needs. According to the Psychoanalytic theory of development by Erik Ericson, children’s personality is framed by the experiences of their early life. He goes on to state that each stage of development is marked by conflicts and how these conflicts are handled would determine the resulting personality of the child (Dean).

I believe it is accurate to say that a teacher’s personality does in fact affect a child’s development. Depending on their personality, it could either affect a child in a positive or negative way.

Autobiography

My name is Sushmita Savitri Bachoo. I am twenty-five years old. I am the only girl among my three brothers, two who are older and one younger. My mom has always been a housewife and my dad worked as a laborer at T&TEC. Growing up in my family, we could be expressive of ourselves as an individual, but expressing emotions weren’t welcomed. Up until this day I’ve never hugged my dad or told him “I love you” the feelings were just understood. I grew up tough in the shadows of my brothers and as some would say spoilt daddy’s princess.

My early life went something like this. I lived a couple miles away from the pre-school, so my mom and I enjoyed a nice trot in the blazing 8am and 1pm sun to and from preschool, which I believe is why I despise walking to go anywhere now. I didn’t like interacting with anyone, so I had no friends. I disliked outdoor activities which apparently were compulsory, hence most of my pre-school pictures were of me making that ugly frowned face and long crocodile tears. What I did like though was the academic aspect of preschool which clearly stuck with me throughout my life. Something about seeing that little Bristol board candle with the glitter flames and Sushmita plastered on it at the top of the board, which Miss Geeta would rearrange every week, after our weekly test, brought me a sense of pride.

Moving on to primary school not much changed, still friendless but also still passionate about being at the top of my class. Here I developed my love for public speaking. I would be asked to speak at every school function be it a poem, a farewell speech or a simple greeting. My teachers were very supportive of this and granted me these opportunities which shaped me into being the confident individual I am who’s not afraid to stand in a crowd of adults and have my voice be heard. My reliable and trustworthy traits I’d say stemmed from always being left responsible for something in the classroom. Miss Joanna would leave the key to the class locker with me, where she secretly stashed all her beauty items. Miss Ruth designated that I collect monies from everyone to purchase the newspaper, as well as she trusted me to reach early, every Thursday morning to collect them so we can practice for S.E.A.

Highschool were some really questioning years of life. I think the discouragement came after I wasn’t placed in the school I expected to pass for. This was a period of figuring myself out, however, I never neglected my studies. My dad and I always shared a unique relationship. Ever since I knew myself, I would wake up early as he did, and we’d sit and pray together then he’d help me with homework then revision. As I grew older this turned into our 3am talks. I’d make us both coffee and we’d just sit outside in the still morning and talk for hours. He was always my mentor, he guided me through everything and taught me to be independent. Around the ending of form 4 I got my first job. Even though he didn’t want me to, the feeling of being able to walk into pennywise and pick up whatever I wanted made me feel accomplished. He had a very strange way of teaching me my independence. He’d drop me off at the bank and leave me to fend for myself same as with extra lessons or paying household bills. I’d say this developed me to not depend on anyone to do anything for me, now I just go and get it done.

After high school, still puzzled about what I wanted to do I was advised to pursue Radiography as daddy believed any job in the medical field would always be in demand. Three months into college, my life changed in way I’d never be able to comprehend. My dad, my mentor, my first love died. He left me hung up but with the promise that it’ll all work out. I continued school until I couldn’t bare it anymore and decided to stop and seek employment. This period of my life involved a lot of reflecting and soul searching, what did I really want for myself. So, I worked and saved and eventually restarted my studies.

Fast forward to where I am now, I’m much more focused on my goals. My life experiences have made me into the person I am today. Strong minded, focused, humble and genuine.

Reflection

They say if you do the job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. However, as with any job it can become overwhelming at some point. Teaching is a demanding career however, when the workload exceeds the usual and there is lack of efficient planning it is easy to fall prey to burnout. Being a person who loves to pamper myself and take time off to look after my physical wellbeing, I could see that department being sorted. However, my mental health is often overlooked as I don’t prioritize it as much as my physical health.

To avoid burnout and stay true to myself, I plan on continuing to schedule “me time” where I exclude everyone around me and engage in reflection. Reflect on where I’ve reached with respect to my professional and personal goals, where I plan to be within the coming months and identify steps, I need to take to get there.

Another strategy I plan to endure is time away with my closest friends. Being around these girls is always uplifting and relaxing. It takes my mind away from all the burdens and negative energies and revitalizes me to keep persevering and refocus on my goals.

When I become an educator, an important part of remaining grounded and not becoming overwhelmed would be to prioritize my time. Despite additional hours at home will be necessary in lesson planning for my students, distinguishing when to stop and focus on my family life and extra activities, would be of utmost importance.

I’ve recently discovered the joy and peace of journaling. Taking a few minutes at the end of the day to reflect and document my feelings and all the day’s activities is somewhat comforting. Therefore, journaling is another strategy I can see myself continuing to do. Even if it’s not daily at least a few days for the week.

I think it would be important to reflect at the end of every semester on the performance of students and so I would engage the parents of my students and ask them to fill out a questionnaire based on my performance in their child’s academic growth. This way I would gain a general idea of my weak points as well as strengths and therefore be able to improve myself.

Works Cited

  1. “Neuroticism | Psychology Today”. Psychology Today, 2020, https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/basics/neuroticism.
  2. “Trait | Definition of Trait By Lexico”. Lexico Dictionaries | English, 2020, https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/trait.
  3. Ackerman, Courtney E. “Big Five Personality Traits: The OCEAN Model Explained.” PositivePsychology.com, 7 Nov. 2019, https://positivepsychology.com/big-five-personality-theory/.
  4. Cherry, Kendra. “What Is Personality and Why Does It Matter?” Verywellmind, 3 Nov. 2019, https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-personality-2795416.
  5. Constantin, Gajura. “The Importance of Knowing Your Personality Type.” Thrive Global, 5 May 2019, https://thriveglobal.com/stories/the-importance-of-knowing-your-personality-type/.
  6. Dean, Ann. “Psychodynamic Theory In Early Childhood Education: A Look At The Contributions of Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, Erik H. Erikson, Susan Isaacs, Bruno Betteleheim, C.M. Frijling-Schreuder and Ulrgaret Ribble”. Journals.Sfu.Ca, 2020, http://journals.sfu.ca/cob/index.php/files/article/viewFile/89/61.
  7. Psychology Today. “Big 5 Personality Traits.” Sussex Publishers, LLC , https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/basics/big-5-personality-traits.
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