The Informed Vision: Essays on Learning and Human Nature

By David Hawkins | Go to book overview

ON UNDERSTANDING THE UNDER-
STANDING OF CHILDREN

In [On Living in Trees] I tried to keep a light touch; I was exploring the potentialities of a metaphor. The metaphor of the tree dweller has, or implies, a certain formal structure, and in this structure I saw the pattern of a certain line of theoretical development. So the play was serious.

I trust this spirit is still visible in [On Understanding the Understanding of Children.] Here the audience was a rather special one of persons involved in pediatric research, and I was trying to tie down the image of the tree, and that of the network. These were people who knew the literature on child development, some of them being contributors to it. While it would have been pretentious to offer such a group any serious and literal- minded [theory] to embrace their many-sided concerns, it seemed right to try to be more detailed and technical in disciplining such theoretical trials as I am committed to.

It is serious play again, of a kind we advocate for children's growth, but tend to disparage for adult concerns. I do indeed believe that the general characteristics of the nervous system I describe, and the general style of learning behavior associated with this, will turn out literally to be a fair fit to the truth. If so and when so, we will be freed once and for all from the narrowing dominance of single-track, mechanical conceptions of learning, and will be able to see how it is that the best of practical human insight is matched by the sober conclusions of [hard] science.


On Understanding the Understanding of Children
(1967)

In what I have to say today I shall be both reporting and theorizing; reporting on some recent innovative work in education, and theorizing to explicate the presuppositions of the work and the implications of its

-193-

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The Informed Vision: Essays on Learning and Human Nature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Table of Contents ix
  • Preface 1
  • The Informed Vision: An Essay on Science Education 3
  • Mind and Mechanism in Education 19
  • Childhood and the Education of Intellectuals 41
  • I, Thou, and It 51
  • Messing about in Science 65
  • The Bird in the Window 77
  • Two Essays on Mathematics Teaching 99
  • Development as Education 131
  • On Environmental Education 147
  • John Dewey Revisited 159
  • On Living in Trees 171
  • On Understanding the Under- Standing of Children 193
  • Human Nature and the Scope of Education 205
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