The Arts and Human Development: A Psychological Study of the Artistic Process

By Howard Gardner | Go to book overview
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ONE
THE RELATIONSHIP OF ART TO HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

DEVELOPMENTAL RESEARCH

The systematic study of human development began about two centuries ago when a number of natural scientists looked to the young child for clues about the species, the primitive, the sick, and the normal.* During the latter part of the nineteenth century several "baby biographies" or "baby diaries," including one by Charles Darwin, were kept and published. The psychologically oriented parent or relative would record detailed observations of an infant, generally without offering much interpretation or commentary. Such disinterested yet painstaking observation culminated in the comprehensive studies by Gesell and his associates undertaken in the first half of this century, in which timetables for the appearance of a wide range of human capacities were drawn up.

While the neutral accumulation of facts may serve certain purposes, the majority of students of child development now emphasize the value of, and need for, observations and experiments conducted within a more or less explicit theoretical framework. They rightly challenge those who continue to gather innumerable facts without adequately examining the reason for such collecting, or the possibility that a different guiding question might elicit an alternate set of facts. Among the theoretically minded students of children, those of a strict learning theory or behaviorist orientation do not regard infants as qualitatively different from

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References organized by page will be found at the end of the book.

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