The Cradle of Culture and What Children Know About Writing and Numbers Before Being
Psychology Press – 2003 – 296 pages
Series: Developing Mind Series
This book provides a thrilling description of preliterate children's developing ideas about writing and numerals, and it illustrates well the many ways in which cultural artifacts influence the mind and vice versa. Remarkably, children treat writing and numerals as distinct even before they have received any formal training on the topic, and well before they learn how to use writing to represent messages and numerals to represent quantities.
In this revolutionary new book, Liliana Tolchinsky argues that preliterate children's experiences with writing and numerals play an essential and previously unsuspected role in children's subsequent development. In this view, learning notations, such as writing is not just a matter of acquiring new instruments for communicating existing knowledge. Rather, there is a continual interaction between children's understanding of the features of a notational system and their understanding of the corresponding domain of knowledge. The acquisition of an alphabetic writing system transforms children's view of language, and the acquisition of a formal system of enumeration transforms children's understanding of numbers.
Written in an engaging narrative style, and richly illustrated with historical examples, case studies, and charming descriptions of children's behavior, this book is aimed not only at cognitive scientists, but also at educators, parents, and anyone interested in how children develop in a cultural context.
"This is a thought-provoking analysis for those with specialized knowledge about linguistic and numerical development. The glossary, index, and reference list are excellent additions to the book….Highly recommended."
Contents: Preface. Introduction: What Children Know and We Have Already Forgotten About Writing and Numerals. What Philosophers Say About Representational Means That May Help Us to Understand What Makes Writing and Numerals So Special. What Historians Say About the Origin and History of Writing and Numerals. What Children Know About Writing Before Being Formally Taught to Write. What Children Know About Numerals Before Being Formally Taught and Immediately Afterward. What Children Know About the Relations Between Writing and Number Notation. The Effect of Writing on Children and Grown-Ups Once It Has Been Learned. Closing Reflections on Notational Systems, Boomerangs, and Circles.