Gopnik on Parenting and 'The Gardener and the Carpenter' - The AtlanticCaring deeply about our children is part of what makes us human. In the past thirty years, the concept of parenting and the huge industry surrounding it have transformed childcare into obsessive, controlling, and goal-orientated labour intended to create a particular kind of child, and therefore a particular kind of adult. Drawing on the study of human evolution and her own cutting-edge scientific research into how children learn, Gopnik shows that although caring for children is profoundly important, it is not a matter of shaping them to turn out a particular way. Children are designed to be messy and unpredictable, playful and imaginative, and to be very different both from their parents and from each other. The variability and flexibility of childhood lets them innovate, create, and survive in an unpredictable world.
Full E-book The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us
Could a 4-year-old possess better instincts for scientific discovery than a college student? In one experiment , researchers showed preschoolers and undergraduates a variety of blocks, some of which made a machine light up and play music. The children turned out to be more open to the notion that unusual combinations of blocks could turn the machine on, whereas the college students got hung up on the most obvious solution—that the shape of individual blocks affected the machine—ignoring evidence that it was wrong. In a sense, young children are superior innovators and scientists, open to novel hypotheses. The book explains how young children decide whom to believe; why they categorize; and how their intuitive understanding of statistics, mass, and gravity operates. Especially compelling are the sections on the role of experimentation and playing pretend in learning.
Caring deeply about our children is part of what makes us human. Yet the thing we call "parenting" is a surprisingly new invention. In the past thirty years, the concept of parenting and the multibillion-dollar industry surrounding it have transformed child care into obsessive, controlling, goal-oriented labor intended to create a particular kind of child and thereby a particular kind of adult. In The Gardener and the Carpenter , the pioneering developmental psychologist and philosopher Alison Gopnik argues that the familiar twenty-first-century picture of parents and children is profoundly wrong - it's not just based on bad science, it's also bad for kids and parents. Drawing on the study of human evolution and on her own cutting-edge scientific research into how children learn, Gopnik shows that although caring for children is immensely important, the goal shouldn't be to shape them so they turn out a certain way. Children are designed to be messy and unpredictable, playful and imaginative, and very different both from their parents and from one another.
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Alison Gopnik: "The Gardener and the Carpenter" - Talks at Google
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I n , a team of psychologists did an experiment with some preschool children. The scientists gave the children a toy made of many plastic tubes, each with a different function: one squeaked, one lit up, one made music and the final tube had a hidden mirror. With half the children, an experimenter came into the room and bumped — apparently accidentally — into the tube that squeaked. With the other children, the scientist acted more deliberately, like a teacher. The children were then left alone to play with the toy.