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5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary compendium of what we know about childhood, 14 May 2013
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This review is from: Evolution of Childhood (Paperback)
Konner has assembled a massive amount of information from the fields of biology, anthropology, ethology, child development and more (the book's 150 pages of references are invaluable) to consider why humans have the uniquely extended childhood which sets them apart from their nearest relatives. Drawing from studies with people living in hunter-gatherer, agricultural and industrialised societies he considers some of the ways in which the extent and nature of childhood have continued to change, reflecting the intricate reciprocity between what adults need from their children and what children need from their caregivers. Konner highlights the extension of early development (gestation) well beyond birth - at a time determined by the fit between an infant's head and a mother's pelvis more than by when the baby is 'ready'. He shows how the first year can be seen as an extended, socialised period of continued gestation which allows babies to tune in not only to the language/s spoken around them but also to the cultural rules which shape how people behave towards each other. Infant playfulness allows us to be extremely adaptable - children sometimes leading the development of social structures as when a pidgin is transformed, in the mouths of infants, into a sophisticated creole language. Konner also writes about the uniquely human phenomenon of 'middle childhood', a period between the early development of neural connections and processes and the disruption of puberty, a time when children are both willing and able to support the work of the family and able to learn about why people do what they do. There is so much to be enjoyed in this book and it cannot fail to change the way readers think about childhood and children.
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Evolution of Childhood: Relationships, Emotion, Mind
Evolution of Childhood: Relationships, Emotion, Mind by Melvin Konner (Hardcover - 14 May 2010)
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