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Children's Minds Paperback – 30 May 1986

4.4 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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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 1.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

‘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."
JEROME BRUNER

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

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on 4 Dec. 2000
Format: Paperback
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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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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Format: Paperback
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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Children are people who just have not grasped adult meanings but to see them as unformed people who lack a sense of connectiveness which is what Piaget was trying to say appears to be his psychological projection. Donaldson is much kinder to her former mentor than this, but something about the Swiss maverick must have stuck in her craw. Because she came away as someone not cast under the spell of the totalising guru and she set about to look at how he had constructed his experiments. Instead she shows that children do develop an independent perspective, it is just they develop it from their viewpoint and not from an adult one. They are also able to reason, it is just they do not have the full immersion in the adult world which we take for granted. For children the world is full of wonder and they are not the egocentric beings which have to be coerced to be relational ones.

Following on from this point, the issues which emerge are why were Piaget's views accepted for so long. They operated as a discourse of truth and people behaved "as if" he spoke the truth. His ideas permeated pediatricians, teachers and educational psychologists who viewed children as little mannequins needing to be moulded into shape.

Donaldson provides a much more expansive view of the human being, as someone who operates within relationships and acknowledges that they do. Now for adults who cannot see this - this raises some interesting observations about their perception of the world. Are they self absorbed narcissists who project their psychologies onto the world akin to Piaget?

Should this book be the basis of a test for empathy akin to the robots which are subject in Phillp K Dicks book "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.
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