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How Babies Think: The Science of Childhood…
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How Babies Think: The Science of Childhood (original 1999; edition 2001)

by Alison Gopnik, Andrew N. Meltzoff, Patricia Kuhl

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298654,617 (4.06)2
Member:muralijayapala
Title:How Babies Think: The Science of Childhood
Authors:Alison Gopnik
Other authors:Andrew N. Meltzoff, Patricia Kuhl
Info:Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) (2001), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:non-fiction, popsci, mind, pb

Work details

The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind by Alison Gopnik (1999)

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
An alternate subtitle for this book could be: 'Our research on how children think, and our opinions about the rest of the world'. The book presents accessible and interesting descriptions of the authors' experiments, with conclusions about how infants' minds work. It is cleverly written, too, with helpful allusions to literature and pop culture. The analysis of how the results of the experiments fit into the rest of the world are less convincing, and overwritten -- all of chapter 5 could have been cut with no loss in the book's substance.

On the frustrating side, the authors' core thesis -- that scientists are essentially doing what babies do: generating theories and then testing them, driven by a biological urge to explain the world around them -- isn't itself tested scientifically; it's just presented as an attractive idea. There's something particularly suspect when a trio of scientists discovers, much to their delight, that the beloved subjects of their careers are, in the ways that matter most to these investigators, just like them. It doesn't mean the theory is wrong, but it's odd that these authors -- clearly articulate and thoughtful, and dedicated to understanding how people think -- never consider the possibility that their thesis could simply be a case of projection.

Overall, the book was worth checking out of the library and reading for the empirical information about how children think differently at different ages. ( )
  bezoar44 | Oct 26, 2009 |
This exciting book by three pioneers in the new field of cognitive science discusses important discoveries about how much babies and young children know and learn, and how much parents naturally teach them. It argues that evolution designed us both to teach and learn, and that the drive to learn is our most important instinct. It also reveals fascinating insights about our adult capacities and how even very young children -- as well as adults -- use some of the same methods that allow scientists to learn so much about the world. Filled with surprises at every turn, this vivid, lucid, and often funny book gives us a new view of the inner life of children and the mysteries of the mind.
  rajendran | Aug 27, 2008 |
Another book about babies. This one is thankfully free of gory details. Instead The Scientist in the Crib: Minds, Brains, and How Children Learn by Alison Gopnik, Andrew N. Meltzoff, & Patricia K. Kuhl examines developmental psychology in children. It turns out that babies are a lot like scientists in the ways they interact with their new world and test assumptions. Or maybe scientists are like babies because it is in our earliest years that we first develop our capacity for learning.

The authors examine how babies recognize other people and themselves, differentiate objects, and develop language. They also have instinctive means to train adults and older children to help in their development. This book is a lot of fun and a fascinating read.

Favorite Passages:
It may be some comfort to know that these toddlers don't really want to drive us crazy, they just want to understand how we work. The tears that follow the blowup at the end of a terrible-twos confrontation are genuine. The terrible twos reflects a genuine clash between children's need to understand other people and their need to live happily with them. Experimenting with conflict may be necessary if you want to understand what people will do, but it's also dangerous. The terrible twos show how powerful and deep-seated the learning drive is in these young children. With these two-year olds, as with scientists, finding the truth is more than a profession -- it's a passion. And, as with scientists, that passion may sometimes make them sacrifice domestic happiness. - p. 38.

The two most successful examples of human learning turn out to be quite similar. Children and scientists are the best learners in the world, and they both operate in very similar, even identical ways, ways that are unlike even our best computers. They never start from scratch; instead, they modify and change what they already know to gain new knowledge. But they are also never permanently dogmatic -- the things they know (or think they know) are always open to further revision.

While the idea that scientists are like children might seem surprising at first, it helps make sense of some otherwise puzzling facts. Scientists, after all, have the same brains as the rest of us. And science is convincing because, at some level, all of us can recognize the value of explaining what goes on around us and predicting what will happen in the future. ... Why would we have such powerful learning abilities if we never even used them back in the Pleistocene? ...

Our answer is that these abilities evolved for the use of babies and young children. - p. 156-7
Reviews:
BrainConnection by Anne Pycha

NEA by
Marcia D'Arcangelo and Andrew Meltzoff.
Science Blog ( )
1 vote Othemts | Jun 26, 2008 |
Cognition/Cognition in children/Learning, Psychology of
  Budzul | Jun 1, 2008 |
I read this during the first year of my daughter's life and found it fascinating and insightful. Good science, written well. ( )
  GrrlEditor | Dec 13, 2007 |
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The scientist in the crib : minds, brains, and how children learn by Alison Gopnik, Andrew N. Meltzoff and Patricia Kuhl, is also published as How Babies Think: The Science of Childhood.
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Book description
This exciting book by three pioneers in the new field of cognitive science discusses important discoveries about how much babies and young children know and learn, and how much parents naturally teach them. It argues that evolution designed us both to teach and learn, and that the drive to learn is our most important instinct. It also reveals as fascinating insights about our adult capacities and how even young children -- as well as adults -- use some of the same methods that allow scientists to learn so much about the world. Filled with surprise at every turn, this vivid, lucid, and often funny book gives us a new view of the inner life of children and the mysteries of the mind.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0688177883, Paperback)

A trio of nationally respected childhood-development scientists hailing from Berkeley and the University of Washington has authored The Scientist in the Crib to correct a disparity: while popular books about science speak to intelligent, perceptive adults who simply want to learn, books about babies typically just give advice, heavy on the how-to and light on the why. The authors write, "It's as if the only place you could read about evolution was in dog-breeding manuals, not in Stephen Jay Gould; as if, lacking Stephen Hawking's insights, the layman's knowledge of the cosmos was reduced to 'How to find the constellations.'"

The Scientist in the Crib changes that. Standing on the relatively recent achievements of the young field of cognitive science (pointing out that not so long ago, babies were considered only slightly animate vegetables--"carrots that could cry"), the authors succinctly and articulately sum up the state of what's now known about children's minds and how they learn. Using language that's both friendly and smart (and using equally accessible metaphors, everything from Scooby-Doo to The Third Man), The Scientist in the Crib explores how babies recognize and understand their fellow humans, interpret sensory input, absorb language, learn and devise theories, and take part in building their own brains.

Such science makes for great reading, but will likely prove even more useful to readers with a scientist in their own crib, acting as tonic to pseudoscientific how-to baby books that recommend everything "from flash cards, to Mozart tapes, to Better Baby Institutes." As the authors put it, "We want to understand children, not renovate them." --Paul Hughes

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:19 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A review of research on learning and infancy, drawn from hundreds of case studies, shows how children by the age of three are virtual learning machines and discusses how parents can help this learning process.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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