The present volume originated in a conference on curiosity, imagination, and play that was held in September 1981 under the auspices of the Technical University of Berlin and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Association) in the State Library of the Prussian Cultural Foundation in Berlin (West). The president and the chancellor of the Technical University also provided much support for the resulting publication we now present. That conference brought together a group of about 15 developmental psychologists from Germany, England, and the United States who are active in research on diverse aspects of the three topics constituting the title of this book. Most of the contributors to the present volume were among the participants; additional contributors were enlisted for the purposes of this publication to provide fuller treatment of certain topics. The conference papers were revised, expanded, and updated by their authors for this edition.
The volume is intended to serve a dual purpose. On the one hand, it presents a cross section of current research and thinking on the topics of children's curiosity and exploratory activity, imaginative activity, and play and should thus serve to stimulate further work on issues that we consider to be centrally important to developmental psychology. To judge from the current ferment in this general area (notably as regards research on play), we are not alone in that judgment.
The second purpose of this book is to make readers in the English-speaking world aware of recent work done in this area by child and developmental psychologists in Germany, the hope being to promote collaboration and interchange between researchers in Germany, Great Britain, and the United States (as well as in other parts of the world). A comparison between the chapters by our German contributors and those by our British and American colleagues will reveal the many themes and perspectives they have in common, suggesting that we all have much to gain from continued contact and interaction with one another.
With that in mind, the second editor feels impelled to express his admiration for the willingness of our German-speaking contributors to submit their chapters in English and for the forebearance of the participants and audience alike regarding the decision to hold the conference in English--in deference to our guests from Great Britain and the United States. Inevitably, although the general command of the English language demonstrated by our contributors was of a high order indeed, some additional work was involved to turn our manuscript into fully publishable form. Here we find ourselves immeasurably in debt to David Antal for his valiant and painstaking editorial labors in converting these chapters into correct and, we feel, truly readable English. The assiduous and adept translation of the German editor's three chapters into English is owed completely to Mr. Antal's work.