Young Children as Research Scientists
I've been a fan of Alison Gopnick's work about how young children learn because it ties in so well with John Holt's observations about how children learn. A recent article about Gopnick's research, "We All Start Out As Scientists, But Some of Us Forget: Psychologist Alison Gopnik explains why babies are so much better than adults at learning new things," spurred me to write the following comment about the article.
The teacher and author John Holt wrote often and deeply about how children learn and how schools interfere with this process; he based his ideas on his, and others', observations and research into how children learn before they go to school, decades before the current research on this topic. For instance, in his posthumous book, Learning All the Time (1989), Holt writes in chapter 3, "Young Children as Research Scientists": "The process by which children turn experience into knowledge is exactly the same, point for point, as the process by which those whom we call scientists make scientific knowledge." Gopnick's research echoes and supports so many of Holt's points: Will educators act on these ideas now that they have a stronger research basis or will they continue to treat children as empty vessels to fill with mandated knowledge?