Reading Children’s Minds

The title does not mean what you likely think it means. I cannot read children’s minds.

But I am reading Children’s Minds.

Michael Doyle recommended it to me.

Well, that’s not quite right. He called me the successor to Margaret Donaldson (author of the book in question). I had never heard of her. I consulted Amazon and now possess a first American printing of the 1978 book.

There is lots of interesting stuff in it. Good, thoughtful critique of Piaget; a lovely read.

I have been enjoying and identifying but not really seeing Michael’s point.

And then this.

To Western adults, and especially to Western adult linguists, languages are formal systems. A formal system can be manipulated in a formal way. It is an easy but dangerous move from this to the conclusion that it is also learned in a formal way.

Replace language with math and you pretty much have everything I’ve been saying on this blog.

I cannot say that I’ll live up to Ms. Donaldson’s legacy, but Michael Doyle is astonishingly good.

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One response to “Reading Children’s Minds

  1. This is a really important distinction, and one many people do not understand. In fact, even though languages are formal systems (this I agree with), I have yet to see a young infact learn their native language in a formal system. In fact, I suspect that attempts to formalize language learning for little children are misguided and will fail.

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