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Children's Minds [Paperback]

Margaret Donaldson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

30 May 1986 0006861229 978-0006861225 New Ed

Margaret Donaldson’s seminal work on child development, first published in 1978, has become a classic inquiry into the nature of human thought.

In this concise and brilliantly readable book, Margaret Donaldson shows that context is key when it comes to the development of language and thought, and how the right support can ensure children are skilled in these areas before they even start school. She revisits earlier theories of child development, notably those of Jean Piaget, to expose flaws in the accepted wisdom on child psychology and to suggest a range of new strategies to help children combat difficulties.

As wise and perceptive today as it was when it first appeared, Margaret Donaldson’s bestselling work is essential reading for anyone interested in child development and child psychology.

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Children's Minds + Introducing Child Psychology + Understanding Children's Development
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (30 May 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006861229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006861225
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


‘One of the most powerful, most wisely balanced and best informed books on the development of the child’s mind…Its implications for education are enormous.’ Jerome Bruner

‘A book of great, and very general significance…a classic.’ Jack Tizard

From the Back Cover

First published in 1978, 'Children’s Minds' has become a classic inquire into the nature of human thought. Margaret Donaldson shows how thought and language originally depend upon the interpersonal contexts within which they develop, and how, given the support of such contexts, children are already skilled thinkers and language users by the time they come to school.

However, when school begins, success depends on the development of new modes of thinking. Margaret Donaldson shows what these entail and analyses the difficulties which they present. She claims that we have not fully understood the nature of these difficulties and so have not known how best to help children to deal with them. She suggests a range of strategies that can be used, arguing that the way in which reading is taught is even more important than we have supposed.

This book is essential reading for all who are interested in the development of the human mind.

"One of the most powerful, most wisely balanced and best informed books on the development of the child's mind to have appeared in twenty years. Its implications for education are enormous."

"A book of great, and very general significance… a classic."

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing change! 24 July 2009
This is a very cheap paperback that is easily worth ten times the other HUGE rather expensive hardbacks I have read regarding child development. I bought this (new) amongst other titles for a university course and this is without a doubt the only book I found remotely interesting or relevant. Donaldson's writing is concise and still very accurate, even now some thirty years later. I recommend this under-priced and under-rated paperback over anything else you may consider buying regarding child development/pyschology etc. This lady researched for Piaget and had great respect for him (very apparent throughout)yet she recognised, and indeed has written about some of the flaws in his methodology that he himself did not consider. Chomsky's theory of language development is also covered 'uniquely' in my opinion.

Fantastic read, an absolute must have if you're remotely interested in child development or Piaget himself.
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255 of 262 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than an Introduction.... 15 Jan 2000
By A Customer
Donaldson's ground breaking book is much more than a mere 'introduction' to child development. Dondaldson's work turned long held notions about the nature of the chid upside down! The book is a critical examination of the work of Piaget and whilst showing the importance of Piaget's work to the disipline she teases out some of the problems with his work. She asks the questions: are children really egocentric? Was Piaget's methodology all it should have been? Are children individials first who become social beings? Or is it (As Vygotsky thought) the other way around? She clearly demonstrates by experiments of her own and those of others on the Edinburgh cognition project that children are capable of much more than Piaget ever gave them credit for! The book also clearly sets out Piagetian theory and stages. This book should be mandoratory reading for everyone involved in the education of the very young. Discard your outdated notions of 'dicovery' learning read this book. If you only ever read one psychology book it should be this one!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read 26 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Margaret Donaldson seems to find a nice middle ground between those who see a Childs development as needing to be highly structured and those (perhaps more deluded, lazy sort) who believe a child develops the same way no matter what, almost as if it were magic. Her theory is based on her discovery of flaws in Jean Piaget's work. The main errors that she points out are from the results of Piaget's experiments which you suddenly realise when reading this book how unscientific they were, mainly due to their ignorance of the variables. The fact is that if a child has not being taught to do something they will quite obviously fail when they are put on the spot and asked to do something.

Donaldson reasons that an excess of freedom or an excess of instruction can cause severe problems for a child's development and their future ability, however from reading this book it seems that it would always be better to err on the side of too much instruction rather than too much freedom as when looking at experimental data she finds that better instruction improves children's grasp of concepts and enables them to perform much better at any given task.

One of the main realisations that Donaldson makes and for which she must be highly commended, is the idea that error and failure are a natural and vital part of learning. It is a message that is of vital importance because in today's world failure is taboo.

One thing that is slightly disappointing is that Margaret Donaldson presents intellectual ability as a `cold' thing which I think is a real shame and something that should be dealt with.

A book well worth reading, especially for parents and teachers or anybody who comes into contact with children. There are occasional flaws in reason, but this is a solid book with much to praise.
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147 of 172 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars um...AMAZING 4 Dec 2000
By A Customer
I really have to agree with the other reviews displayed here. This book is fantastic; it is clearly written, a beautiful length (!) and well supported with much experimental evidence. Donaldson's theories about the importance of reading in a child's development of his/her self awareness, the importance of pupil error in education, and how, as educators, we should try and encourage recognition of error should be taken note of. Digestable Developmental Psychology .
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for uni 28 Jan 2007
By C. Howe
This book has helped immensely when writing essays for uni. My course is 'Education, Culture & Society', and this book blends the 3 elements perfectly! Good evidence referred to throughout, as well as references to clear and varied opinions.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars CHildrens Minds 22 Dec 2008
This book was recommended to compliment the O.U course in child psychology that I am about to embark on. This is a great book which condenses the works of Piaget's Theories whilst pointing out that there MAY be room for improvement! This book is consise and really interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic book 22 Oct 2013
By sassy
I brought this book to help me understand what it is like for my son but I wanted the view point from someone who deals with dyspraxia and not from a Dr. Being a parent of a dyspraxic child it is challenging mainly because I'd never heard of dyspraxia before and it seems once you get the diagnosis you are left on your own to figure it out with no real help .this book is truly a god send and I have picked up many ways to help and understand my son better and I have also passed the book on to my sons school where teachers are reading it and taking notes from it to help many other children . Victoria is an amazing inspiration to us all and I can't thank her enough for taking the time to write this book I couldn't put it down.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend this book if you need a greater understanding of ...
I bought this book for pre course reading required for my PGCE. It's a captivating read with evidence to support her views. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Mrs. A. Wells
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant book, On recomended reading list for anyone studying child psychology or developement.
Published 1 month ago by Heather
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book for those studying child psychology
Published 3 months ago by gamuchirayi c mahere
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor print
The print in this book is very poor and the book is bad quality. I've struggled to read the book due to the printing.
Published 3 months ago by HDK
5.0 out of 5 stars Children's Minds
A great book for any body studying or working in Early Years Education and Care. It is a great source for Child Development Modules / classes
Published 8 months ago by Sharon
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
This book arived on time and in great condition i would recomend it to anyone that is studying early years at Uni.
Published 9 months ago by moose
4.0 out of 5 stars /Children's Minds
Good book. Very easy to read and very interesting. Great for research purposes and very helpful. Would reccomend (:( :
Published 17 months ago by MRS T PARRY
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book
I really enjoyed reading this book Margaret Donaldson provides a great way of explained how a childs mind works showing that a young child has a fair amount of intelligence.
Published 17 months ago by S Chambers
3.0 out of 5 stars old
Very old edition, I needed it for a course, have not actually used it as of yet and don't think I will be reading it.
Published 18 months ago by Zoe
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