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In this course, I am going to tell you my story of how children’s minds develop in the modern world, and how their social environment influences this development. In this story, I will not be following the existing handbooks on children’s cognitive development. Rather, my aim is to illuminate and illustrate some ideas, which in my view are central for understanding this development.
I will start this course with discussing the issue of how some ideas of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky can help us understand recent discoveries of infants’ extraordinary cognitive abilities.
I will continue with presenting some models on how our ability to learn new things and develop our minds works.
I will then illustrate these models by presenting and discussing research on the development of perception, thinking and executive function.
I will finish this course by presenting and discussing extended psychological-pedagogical programs aimed to enhance independence and creativity of children’s judgment and behavior in the classroom through facilitating their ability to resist the urge of imitating confusing social signals.
The course includes four sections, eight lectures supplied with relevant readings, and a quiz. Lectures contain author’s text, author’s videos, a video with a child performing on an executive control task, graphs and animated pictures.
I built this course for students in social sciences, specialists in education, child care, medicine, writers for children and all those who want to learn more about topics on children’s cognitive development that they will not be able find in most traditional handbooks.
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|Section 1: Infant cognition through the prism of development|
In this lecture I will introduce you to this course and briefly describe the content of subsequent lectures
•In this lecture I will briefly introduce main concepts of Vygotsky’s developmental theory.
•I will then describe some recent discoveries of extraordinary cognitive abilities in human infants.
•Finally, I will show how Vygotsky’s understanding of cognitive development can help us appreciate the differences between cognitive abilities in infants and similar abilities in older children and adults.
|Section 2: Models of cognitive development|
•In this lecture I will present an experiment that aimed at testing Model 3 (coexistence) on children and adults’ understanding the difference between sensations and physical properties of objects.
•I will show that despite all of the efforts of science education to separate the description of objects in terms of physical structure from subjective perception of the same objects, both children and adults still confuse their senses with physical reality.
•In this lecture, I will tell you what happens to our beliefs as we ascend up the ladder of knowledge.
•I will consider three models of how the competition between the old and the new knowledge can be resolved, and report the experiments that tested these models.
|Section 3: At the origins of agency|
•In this lecture I will explain what executive function is.
•I will then present an experiment that shows how the first forms of executive activity emerge in the child.
•I will finish the lecture by presenting experiments that evaluate the role of language in children’s executive performance.
In this lecture, I will analyse social factors that affect executive performance in children.
I will then present experiments, which show, how social influence can confuse us and impede executive performance.
|Section 4: The origins of independence|
•In this lecture, I will consider executive functioning still further, taking this functioning in a real life social context.
•I will present experiments that simulate real life situations, in which CSPs influence the child indirectly.
•We will then analyze the causes that make children succumb to CSP.
•I will finish the lecture with presenting the experiment that examined various ways of assisting children to overcome their tendency to imitate CSPs.
•In this lecture I will present experiments that aimed to enhance independence of children’s judgment and behavior in a classroom through elevating the children’s social position in the adult-child interaction.
•I will then show how enhancing children’s independent behavior positively affects their creative ability.
Eugene Subbotsky obtained a PhD in Developmental Psychology at Moscow State University. He taught at Moscow State University, Russia (1975-1990), Lancaster University, UK (1991-2013) and was an Alexander-von-Humboldt Fellow at Konstanz University, West Germany (1990-1991). He is known internationally for research on children's moral development, the development of children's metaphysical reasoning, and the development of magical thinking and behaviour over life span. He conducted research in Russia, Germany, United Kingdom, USA and Mexico. He published over 100 papers in scientific journals and is the author of 12 books, including those published by Harvard University Press, Oxford University Press, and Psychology Press. Eugene is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a BPS charted psychologist, a Member of the BPS Division of Teachers and Researchers in Psychology.