2017 Longfellow Lecture: The Gardener and the Carpenter: What Science Tells...
In the past thirty years, the concept of parenting and the multibillion dollar industry surrounding it have transformed child care into obsessive, controlling, and goal-oriented labor intended to create a particular kind of child and therefore a particular kind of adult. It is not just based on bad science, it's bad for kids and parents, too.
Through the study of human evolution and her own scientific research into how children learn, Alison shows that children are designed to be messy and unpredictable, playful and imaginative, and to be very different both from their parents and from each other. The variability and flexibility of childhood lets them innovate, create, and survive in an unpredictable world. “Parenting" won't make children learn—but caring parents let children learn by creating a secure, loving environment.
Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley. She received her BA from McGill University and her PhD. from Oxford University. She is a world leader in cognitive science, particularly the study of children’s learning and development. She is the author of over 100 journal articles and several books including “The Philosophical Baby; What children’s minds tell us about love, truth and the meaning of life” Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2009 and “The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the new science of child development tells us about the relationship between parents and children” Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2016. She has written widely about cognitive science and psychology for the Wall Street Journal, Science, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Scientific American, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, New Scientist and Slate, among others. She has frequently appeared on TV and radio including “The Charlie Rose Show” and “The Colbert Report”. She has three sons and three grand-children and lives in Berkeley, California with her husband Alvy Ray Smith.
The Longfellow Lecture series, inaugurated in 1987, honors the memory of Cynthia Longfellow '72, who devoted her professional life to bettering the lives of young children. This lecture is funded by an endowment established by family and friends. For more information: visit http://www.slc.edu/cdi/events/index.html.
A light reception and book signing will follow lecture.