"Kiddy Thinks" (Summary)

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“Kiddy Thinks” In “Kiddy Thinks”, Alison Gopnik discusses the stages of thinking abilities of babies and young children. Using examples from her personal experiences as a parent and her experiments as a developmental psychologist, she defines these stages and explains the learning processes that take place during them. Through process analysis, Gopnik develops her thesis that babies and young children use the same learning strategies as scientists. Gopnik explains the stages of cognitive development for children from birth to the age of 4 years old. At birth, babies already know they are similar to other people. By nine months, babies can differentiate between expressions of happiness, sadness, and anger. By the age of one year, babies develop an understanding of appropriate responses to their environment by observing the people around them. At a year and a half, babies learn that people have different desires and attitudes. By two years old, children begin testing and exploring this idea. Three year olds understand visual perception and the concept of hiding objects. By the time a child is four, they understand that people can have incorrect thoughts about the world. In opposition to the traditional understanding that babies and young children learn and think differently than adults, Gopnik suggests that babies and young children use the same learning methods as scientists. They “observe, formulate theories, make predictions, and do experiments” (Gopnik, 237) to learn about people, objects, and their surroundings. Like scientists, when a significant amount of counter evidence is present, babies and young children will change their theories. Finally, Gopnik concludes her essay by saying the role of adults in the learning of children is an important one, and recommends that readers work towards “paid parental leave, flexible work arrangements, and publicly
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