Katherine Nelson’s view of cognitive development as an interactive process, mediated by culture, context, language, and social interaction, has shaped the current field of cognitive development. The impact of Katherine’s views on the sociocultural basis of cognition and her functionalist perspective on cognitive development are evident in the collection of chapters in this volume. Several themes emerge from this collection of papers. First, cognitive development is viewed as a process of meaning-making, with children striving after meaning in their everyday interactions. Thus, contributors examine how children come to make sense of their world and how sensemaking is embedded in ongoing everyday interactions with the objects and people in their world. Second, making sense of the world occurs within social interactions in which adults mediate children’s cognitive processes. Several contributors examine the ways in which the social interactions in which children engage exert a powerful mediating influence on the skills they develop and the meanings they construct. Third, language is both a tool and a process by which children make sense of the world. Language, as a cognitive phenomenon, must be understood as emerging from children’s developing understanding of the world around them and children’s emerging language abilities change the nature of their interactions with others.
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