Learning Change

Learning Change Project: 8 Blogs, +7500 Readings

Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Anthropocentrism is not the first step in Children’s reasoning about the Natural World

What is the relation between human and nonhuman animals? As adults, we construe this relation flexibly, depending in part on the situation at hand. From a biological perspective, we acknowledge the status of humans as one species among many (as in Western science), but at the same time may adopt other perspectives, including an anthropocentric perspective in which human characteristics are attributed to nonhuman animals (as in fables and popular media). How do these perspectives develop? The predominant view in developmental cognitive science is that young children universally possess only one markedly anthropocentric vantage point, and must undergo fundamental conceptual change, overturning their initially human-centered framework before they can acquire a distinctly biological framework. Evidence from two experiments challenges this view. By developing a task that allows us to test children as young as 3 years of age, we are able to demonstrate that anthropocentrism is not the first developmental step in children’s reasoning about the biological world. Although urban 5-year-olds adopt an anthropocentric perspective, replicating previous reports, 3-year-olds show no hint of  anthropocentrism. This suggests a previously unexplored model of development: Anthropocentrism is not an initial step in conceptual development, but is instead an acquired perspective, one that emerges between 3 and 5 years of age in children raised in urban environments.

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Read also: Young Infants have Biological Expectations about Animals

Written by Giorgio Bertini

February 7, 2016 at 12:33 pm

The Hungry Mind: The Origins of Curiosity in Childhood

Despite American education’s mania for standardized tests, testing misses what matters most about learning: the desire to learn in the first place. Susan Engel offers a highly readable exploration of what curiosity is, how it can be measured, how it develops in childhood, and how educators can put curiosity at the center of the classroom. Moreover, studies show that curiosity is a potent ingredient in learning— children learn better when their curiosity is piqued. This is true in short periods of learning, and over time as well. Thus any school where the goal is to help children understand a complex world of ideas and information would benefi t from harnessing its enormous power.

Unfortunately, schools do not always, or even often, foster curiosity, despite the fact that it transforms the pro cess of education, makes learning come alive for most children, and increases the chance that any given child will become a curious adult. Though research has helped us identify the psychological underpinnings of curiosity, making use of those fi ndings in real classrooms is easier said than done. Skilled, kind teachers, eager to make learning more active and engaging, often miss the key moment when a student’s curiosity is piqued.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

January 26, 2016 at 7:19 pm

Brains in Pain Cannot Learn!

Buried deep in the brain’s limbic system is an emotional switching station called the amygdala, and it is here that our human survival and emotional messages are subconsciously prioritized and learned. We continually scan environments for feelings of connectedness and safety. I am learning that the students who look oppositional, defiant, or aloof may be exhibiting negative behavior because they are in pain and presenting their stress response.

We are all neurobiologically wired for social connection and attachment to others. When children don’t receive healthy connections in early development, the brain rewires and adapts just as readily to unhealthy environments. If brain development is disrupted by adversity at any age, but especially in early development, the skills of problem solving, reflection, and emotional regulation are compromised and diminished. Children and adolescents need stimulation and nurturance for healthy development and attachment. Students whose development is disrupted often walk through the doors of our schools mistrusting adults.

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Read also: Maltreatment and the Developing Child

Understanding the Effects of Maltreatment on Early Brain Development

Written by Giorgio Bertini

January 7, 2016 at 6:20 pm

Children: The Play deficit

When I was a child in the 1950s, my friends and I had two educations. We had school (which was not the big deal it is today), and we also had what I call a hunter-gather education. We played in mixed-age neighbourhood groups almost every day after school, often until dark. We played all weekend and all summer long. We had time to explore in all sorts of ways, and also time to become bored and figure out how to overcome boredom, time to get into trouble and find our way out of it, time to daydream, time to immerse ourselves in hobbies, and time to read comics and whatever else we wanted to read rather than the books assigned to us. What I learnt in my hunter-gatherer education has been far more valuable to my adult life than what I learnt in school, and I think others in my age group would say the same if they took time to think about it.

The young of all mammals play. Why? Why do they waste energy and risk life and limb playing, when they could just rest, tucked away safely in a burrow somewhere? That’s the kind of question that evolutionary psychologists ask. The first person to address that particular question from a Darwinian, evolutionary perspective was the German philosopher and naturalist Karl Groos. In a book called The Play of Animals, Groos argued that play came about by natural selection as a means to ensure that animals would practise the skills they need in order to survive and reproduce.

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Read also: Play Resources

Written by Giorgio Bertini

January 7, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Children, Play, Playfulness

Tagged with , ,

What Drives Children’s Creativity?

Pens vs. paintbrushes. Compelling words vs vivid strokes. What underlies creativity for writers? For artists? Are there commonalities? How can parents and teachers nurture children’s creative expression? Here’s a candid dialogue between author Joanne Foster, and artist Rina Gottesman.

A writer stares at an empty page or stark keyboard. An artist gazes at a blank canvas, or perhaps a piece of marble or clay. The tools they use to communicate may differ but they both begin with a desire to convey ideas, feelings, and experiences. Rina Gottesman is an acclaimed, award-winning artist. She creates gloriously colorful abstract paintings. I asked her to think about the following question: What’s the best way to spur children’s creative expression? Rina responded thoughtfully, and with considerable detail. She focused on many different points. Here is a glimpse into our conversation.

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Read also: Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids

The Dot: Sparking Creativity in Classrooms Worldwide

Written by Giorgio Bertini

January 4, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Dialogue and the Development of Children’s Thinking: A Sociocultural Approach

This book draws on extensive research to provide a ground-breaking new account of the relationship between dialogue and children’s learning development. It closely relates the research findings to real-life classrooms, so that it is of practical value to teachers and students concerned that their children are offered the best possible learning opportunities. The authors provide a clear, accessible and well-illustrated case for the importance of dialogue in children’s intellectual development and support this with a new and more educationally relevant version of socio-cultural theory, which explains the fascinating relationship between dialogues and learning. The book provides a new and more educationally relevant interpretation of sociocultural theory, based on the work of Vygotsky, which explains the fascinating relationship between engagement in dialogues and learning.In educational terms, a sociocultural theory that relates social, cultural and historical processes, interpersonal communication and applied linguistics, is an ideal way of explaining how school experience helps children learn and develop. By using evidence of how the collective construction of knowledge is achieved and how engagement in dialogues shapes children’s educational progress and intellectual development, the authors provide a text which is essential for educational researchers, postgraduate students of education and teachers, and is also of interest to many psychologists and applied linguists.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

December 16, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Non-Standard Work Schedules Make Childrearing Difficult

Recent developments in employment practices have increased the prevalence of non-standard work schedules—non-daytime shifts in which most hours do not fall between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., when shifts rotate, or when schedules vary weekly or otherwise. For example, computer software now enables retail, restaurant, service, and other firms to predict hourly customer demand and delivery schedules with precision, encouraging employers to create “just-in-time” schedules in which workers are called in or sent home on short notice. By preventing many parents from adequately caring for their children, such practices adversely affect child and adolescent development. This issue brief examines evidence on the prevalence of unpredictable and non-standard work schedules, and on how such schedules impair children’s development.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

December 13, 2015 at 11:44 am

Fairness Expectations and Altruistic Sharing in 15-Month-Old Infants

Human cooperation is a key driving force behind the evolutionary success of our hominin lineage. At the proximate level, biologists and social scientists have identified other-regarding preferences – such as fairness based on egalitarian motives, and altruism – as likely candidates for fostering large-scale cooperation. A critical question concerns the ontogenetic origins of these constituents of cooperative behavior, as well as whether they emerge independently or in an interrelated fashion. The answer to this question will shed light on the interdisciplinary debate regarding the significance of such preferences for explaining how humans become such cooperative beings. We investigated 15-month-old infants’ sensitivity to fairness, and their altruistic behavior, assessed via infants’ reactions to a third-party resource distribution task, and via a sharing task. Our results challenge current models of the development of fairness and altruism in two ways. First, in contrast to past work suggesting that fairness and altruism may not emerge until early to mid-childhood, 15-month-old infants are sensitive to fairness and can engage in altruistic sharing. Second, infants’ degree of sensitivity to fairness as a third-party observer was related to whether they shared toys altruistically or selfishly, indicating that moral evaluations and prosocial behavior are heavily interconnected from early in development. Our results present the first evidence that the roots of a basic sense of fairness and altruism can be found in infancy, and that these other-regarding preferences develop in a parallel and interwoven fashion. These findings support arguments for an evolutionary basis – most likely in dialectical manner including both biological and cultural mechanisms – of human egalitarianism given the rapidly developing nature of other-regarding preferences and their role in the evolution of human-specific forms of cooperation. Future work of this kind will help determine to what extent uniquely human sociality and morality depend on other-regarding preferences emerging early in life.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

November 5, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Stressed, Tired, Rushed: A Portrait of the Modern Family

Children are much more likely than not to grow up in a household in which their parents work, and in nearly half of all two-parent families today, both parents work full time, a sharp increase from previous decades. What hasn’t changed: the difficulty of balancing it all. Working parents say they feel stressed, tired, rushed and short on quality time with their children, friends, partners or hobbies, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The survey found something of a stress gap by race and education. College-educated parents and white parents were significantly more likely than other parents to say work-family balance is difficult. The data are the latest to show that while family structure seems to have permanently changed, public policy, workplace structure and mores have not seemed to adjust to a norm in which both parents work.

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Read also: Raising Kids and Running a Household: How Working Parents Share the Load

Written by Giorgio Bertini

November 5, 2015 at 9:45 pm

Posted in Children, Family, Work

Tagged with , ,

Two-year-old Children differentiate Test Questions from Genuine Questions

Children are frequently confronted with so-called ‘ test questions’. While genuine questions are requests for missing information, test questions ask for information obviously already known to the questioner. In this study we explored whether two-year-old children respond differentially to one and the same question used as either a genuine question or as a test question based on the SITUATION (playful game versus serious task) and ATTITUDE (playful ostensive cues versus not). Results indicated that children responded to questions differently on the basis of the situation but not the expressed attitude of the questioner. Two-year-old children thus understand something of the very special communicative intentions behind test questions.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

November 5, 2015 at 9:03 pm

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