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Awakening Children's MindsHow Parents and Teachers Can Make a Difference$
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Laura E. Berk

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195124859

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195124859.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 October 2021

A Vision for Parenting and Educational Practice

A Vision for Parenting and Educational Practice

(p.245) Conclusion A Vision for Parenting and Educational Practice
Awakening Children's Minds

Laura E. Berk

Oxford University Press

Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory is an empowering perspective for parents and teachers. In underscoring the role of adult–child dialogues in children’s development, it offers a balanced resolution to the dichotomy between adult directiveness and child-centeredness that has, for decades, permeated American parenting advice and educational practice. Consistent with a wealth of current research, sociocultural theory stresses that children contribute actively to their own development, etching their unique imprint on everything they learn. To implement sociocultural concepts of child rearing and teaching, parents and teachers must have a firm grasp of children’s temperaments, interests, knowledge, skills, and strengths and weaknesses. Yet each ingredient of effective dialogue—the shared understanding essential for genuine communication, the sensitive guidance inherent in scaffolding, the narrative conversation that builds the child’s cultural worldview, and the meaningful activities that spark learning of all kinds—requires that adults and children join forces. To create the “zone”—the dynamic region in which children acquire cognitive and social competencies and the capacity to use thought to guide behavior—children and important adults in their lives must collaborate. Adults are leaders in this collaborative process. Through dialogues, they fashion the child’s lifeline with humanity. Weaken or sever that line, and no matter how well endowed children are genetically, they become less than they otherwise could be. Although not the sole influence, adult-child togetherness through the give-and-take of communication indelibly affects children’s development. Dialogues with parents, teachers, and other significant adults transform the child’s mind, connecting it with other minds and transferring to it a wealth of understandings and skills. From the sociocultural perspective, parents help children realize their potential by making a long-term commitment to sensitivity, consistency, and richness of interaction, not by offering brief bursts of attention interspersed with little involvement. This means that good parenting is possible only through great investments of time. Early in this book, I cited evidence indicating that contemporary parents—even those with demanding careers who claim the greatest time scarcity—have ample time for generous involvement in their children’s lives.

Keywords:   Adult supremacy approach, Cooperative learning, Dialogues between adults and children, Games, Goal setting: educational goals, Impulsive children, Make-believe play, Parental role, Shy children, Warmth of adult-child relationship

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