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Why Youth is Not Wasted on the Young. Immaturity in Human Development

  • ID: 2248691
  • Book
  • March 2007
  • 288 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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Humans take longer to reach maturity than most other species on earth. We are the ′Peter Pans of the Animal Kingdom.′ In this engaging and insightful look at the nature of childhood, developmental psychologist David Bjorklund applies more than thirty years of research and writing experience to understanding not only why humans have evolved this way, but what role this period of immaturity plays in the social, emotional, and educational needs of today s children. Challenging common perceptions of children as simply adults in training,
Why Youth is Not Wasted on the Young urges readers to re–examine childhood through an evolutionary lens, seeing it as an essential stage of development with its own unique purposes, separate from those of adulthood; a time of growth and discovery that should not be rushed.
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Preface vii

Acknowledgments xi

1 The Benefits of Youth 1

Rushing through Childhood 3

Views of Development 5

A Darwinian Perspective 14

I Come Not to Praise Immaturity 20

2 The Youngest Species 21

A Brief Look at Human Evolution 23

The Evolution of Childhood 36

Timing is Everything 44

The Youngest Species 52

3 The Slow Rate of Growing Up 55

The Gamble of Delayed Development 56

Big Brains, Social Complexity, and Slow Development 58

Cooperating and Competing 62

Family Matters 63

Slow Growth and Brain Plasticity 65

Developmental Plasticity and Evolution 83

When Slow is Fast Enough 84

4 Adapting to the Niche of Childhood 87

The Benefits of Limitations 89

See Things My Way 93

Learning Language 101

How Do Adults View Children s Immature Thinking? 106

Adapting to Childhood 109

5 The Advantages of Thinking You re Better than You Are 111

The Development of Metacognition Knowing What We Know 113

Some Benefits of Less–Than–Perfect Metacognition 128

When We Deal with Children 135

Know Thyself, But Not Too Well 136

6 Play: The Royal Road through Childhood 139

What is Play? 142

The Adaptive Value of Play 144

Children Playing, Children Learning 147

Play it Again, Kid 161

7 The Most Educable of Animals 163

The Myth of Earlier is Better 169

Prenatal Learning 172

Early (Postnatal) Learning 176

Developmentally Appropriate Practices in Early Education 182

Stress in the Schoolhouse 189

Old Brain, New Curriculum 197

8 The Changing Face of Childhood 199

Pushing Children through Childhood 201

A Brief History of Childhood 204

The Costs of Ignoring Immaturity: The Well–being of America s Children 211

The Independent Human Juvenile: A New View of Childhood? 216

Racing to Adulthood, Prolonging Adolescence 218

Epilogue: Homo Juvenalis 221

Revisiting Childhood 222

Visiting Adulthood 223

Notes 227

References 239

Index 267

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David F. Bjorklund
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