Young Minds in Social Worlds: Experience, Meaning, and Memory

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Overview

Katherine Nelson re-centers developmental psychology with a revived emphasis on development and change, rather than foundations and continuity. She argues that children be seen not as scientists but as members of a community of minds, striving not only to make sense, but also to share meanings with others.

A child is always part of a social world, yet the child's experience is private. So, Nelson argues, we must study children in the context of the relationships, interactive language, and culture of their everyday lives.

Nelson draws philosophically from pragmatism and phenomenology, and empirically from a range of developmental research. Skeptical of work that focuses on presumed innate abilities and the close fit of child and adult forms of cognition, her dynamic framework takes into account whole systems developing over time, presenting a coherent account of social, cognitive, and linguistic development in the first five years of life.

Nelson argues that a child's entrance into the community of minds is a slow, gradual process with enormous consequences for child development, and the adults that they become. Original, deeply scholarly, and trenchant, Young Minds in Social Worlds will inspire a new generation of developmental psychologists.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

Takes a pragmatic, experiential perspective on the process of early development to reveal how children obtain a sense of self and an understanding of the world around them through social interactions. Emphasizing that each child finds a different path through this developmental process, she argues that those studying children must assume a process orientation to address how the mind-culture symbiosis occurs for normally developing children...She makes a cogent case for adopting a developmental-systems approach in which systems, conceptualized as undergoing continuous dynamic change, need to maintain a coherence across change, a continuity of the whole over time, and a flexibility in the face of strong individual differences. This allows one to view children not as little scientists working to understand domain-specific issues but as emerging members of “communities of minds” striving to make sense of the world around them and to share that meaning with others.
— R. B. Stewart

PsychCritiques

Nelson's book is thought-provoking and likely to stimulate discussion. Although the focus of the book makes it most appropriate for researchers and graduate students in child development, it should also interest cognitive psychologists who are not experts in development.
— Marie Balaban

Journal of Developmental Processes

Katherine Nelson's Young Minds in Social Worlds is an immensely rich, fascinating, and exciting book that describes development from infancy as the evolution of a "private mind" that is different from every other private mind and that gradually unfolds as the child enters the meaning-sharing of a "community of minds" through the first five years of life...This book evokes feelings of exuberance and vitality in the reader...Anyone interested in the unfolding of the developmental processes will appreciate her writing and the rich information that she provides.
— Ira Glovinsky

Choice - R. B. Stewart
Takes a pragmatic, experiential perspective on the process of early development to reveal how children obtain a sense of self and an understanding of the world around them through social interactions. Emphasizing that each child finds a different path through this developmental process, she argues that those studying children must assume a process orientation to address how the mind-culture symbiosis occurs for normally developing children...She makes a cogent case for adopting a developmental-systems approach in which systems, conceptualized as undergoing continuous dynamic change, need to maintain a coherence across change, a continuity of the whole over time, and a flexibility in the face of strong individual differences. This allows one to view children not as little scientists working to understand domain-specific issues but as emerging members of “communities of minds” striving to make sense of the world around them and to share that meaning with others.
PsychCritiques - Marie Balaban
Nelson's book is thought-provoking and likely to stimulate discussion. Although the focus of the book makes it most appropriate for researchers and graduate students in child development, it should also interest cognitive psychologists who are not experts in development.
Journal of Developmental Processes - Ira Glovinsky
Katherine Nelson's Young Minds in Social Worlds is an immensely rich, fascinating, and exciting book that describes development from infancy as the evolution of a "private mind" that is different from every other private mind and that gradually unfolds as the child enters the meaning-sharing of a "community of minds" through the first five years of life...This book evokes feelings of exuberance and vitality in the reader...Anyone interested in the unfolding of the developmental processes will appreciate her writing and the rich information that she provides.
Choice
Takes a pragmatic, experiential perspective on the process of early development to reveal how children obtain a sense of self and an understanding of the world around them through social interactions. Emphasizing that each child finds a different path through this developmental process, she argues that those studying children must assume a process orientation to address how the mind-culture symbiosis occurs for normally developing children...She makes a cogent case for adopting a developmental-systems approach in which systems, conceptualized as undergoing continuous dynamic change, need to maintain a coherence across change, a continuity of the whole over time, and a flexibility in the face of strong individual differences. This allows one to view children not as little scientists working to understand domain-specific issues but as emerging members of “communities of minds” striving to make sense of the world around them and to share that meaning with others.
— R. B. Stewart
PsychCritiques
Nelson's book is thought-provoking and likely to stimulate discussion. Although the focus of the book makes it most appropriate for researchers and graduate students in child development, it should also interest cognitive psychologists who are not experts in development.
— Marie Balaban
Journal of Developmental Processes
Katherine Nelson's Young Minds in Social Worlds is an immensely rich, fascinating, and exciting book that describes development from infancy as the evolution of a "private mind" that is different from every other private mind and that gradually unfolds as the child enters the meaning-sharing of a "community of minds" through the first five years of life...This book evokes feelings of exuberance and vitality in the reader...Anyone interested in the unfolding of the developmental processes will appreciate her writing and the rich information that she provides.
— Ira Glovinsky
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674034860
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/30/2010
  • Pages: 330
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Katherine Nelson is Distinguished Professor of Psychology Emerita at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
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Table of Contents

Preface

1. Modern Metaphors of the Developing Child

2. Perspectives on Meaning

3. Being an Infant, Becoming a Child

4. Toddling toward Childhood

5. Experiential Semantics of First Words

6. Entering the Symbolic World

7. Finding Oneself in Time

8. Entering a Community of Minds

9. The Study of Developing Young Minds

Notes

References

Acknowledgments

Index

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