Author(s): Alison Gopnik
Selected as a Book of the Year by the Financial Times. "The Gardener and the Carpenter should be required reading for anyone who is, or is thinking of becoming a parent." (Financial Times). Caring deeply about our children is part of what makes us human. Yet the thing we call 'parenting' is a surprisingly new invention. In the past thirty years, the concept of parenting and the huge industry surrounding it have transformed childcare into obsessive, controlling, and goal-orientated labour intended to create a particular kind of child, and therefore a particular kind of adult. Drawing on the study of human evolution and her own cutting-edge scientific research into how children learn, Gopnik shows that although caring for children is profoundly important, it is not a matter of shaping them to turn out a particular way. 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. In The Gardener and the Carpenter, the pioneering developmental psychologist and philosopher Alison Gopnik argues that the familiar twenty-first-century picture of parenting is profoundly wrong - it's not just based on bad science, it's bad for children and their parents too.
"The Gardener and the Carpenter should be required reading for anyone who is, or is thinking of becoming a parent ... Gopnik's science-based assertion is a welcome corrective to the prevailing culture of coaching and tutoring children" -- Isabel Berwick Financial Times "[An] elegantly readable and thoughtful book... It should be required reading for anyone involved in educational reform." -- Lara Feigel Observer "[A] thoughtful book... Gopnik shines when she describes the intricate world of children's play... This is a lovely book, and the life's work that animates it, will only deepen that bond, helping our children to flourish" -- Erika Christakis Washington Post Sunday "[A] fascinating and passionate diatribe." -- Bee Wilson Guardian "Gopnik's book seems a welcome burst of common sense ... fascinating." New Scientist
Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and an affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. She is an internationally recognised leader in the study of children's learning and development. She writes the Mind and Matter column for the Wall Street Journal and is the author of The Philosophical Baby and co-author of The Scientist in the Crib. She has three sons and lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband, Alvy Ray Smith.