A one-year-old attempting to build a tower of blocks may bring the pile crashing down, yet her five-year-old sister accomplishes this task with ease. Why do young children have difficulty with problems that present no real challenge to older children? How do problem-solving skills develop? In "Children Solving Problems", Stephanie Thornton surveys recent research from a broad range of perspectives in order to explore this important question. What Thornton finds is that successful problem-solving depends less on how smart we are - or, as the pioneering psychologist Jean Piaget claimed, how advanced is our skill in logical reasoning - and more on the factual knowledge we acquire as we learn and interpret cues from the world around us. Problem-solving skills evolve through experiences and dynamic interaction with a problem. But equally important - as the Russian psychologist L.S. Vygotsky proposed - is social interaction. Successful problem-solving is a social process. Sharing problem-solving tasks - with skilled adults and with other children - is vital to a child's growth in expertise and confidence. In problem-solving, confidence can be more important than skill.
In a real sense, problem-solving lies at the heart of what we mean by intelligence. The ability to identify a goal, to work out how to achieve it, and to carry out that plan is the essence of every intelligent activity. Could it be, Thornton suggests, that problem-solving processes provide the fundamental machinery for cognitive development? In "Children Solving Problems" she synthesizes the insights and findings of post-Piagetian research and asserts an agenda for the next stage in understanding the varied phenomena of children's problem-solving.
Buy Children Solving Problems book by Stephanie Thornton from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(210mm x 140mm x 11mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
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Author Biography - Stephanie Thornton
Stephanie Thornton is Lecturer in PsychologyUniversity of Sussex.