Description: Here is a scientific creativity problem for you. What might it mean to say that, in terms of how their minds are organized and how they engage with the world, that human adults and human small children are basically different species? Puzzle on that for a little bit, drawing upon what you know or what you imagine about infants/preschooler and adults. Once you have your thoughts and hypothetical answers in mind visit the link below and listen to the thoughts on this question of Alison Gopnik, an immensely accomplished developmental researcher and thinker and the author of, among many other things, a book called The Philosophical Baby. I think you will find it fascinating!
Source: Why Adults Lose the ‘Beginners Mind,’ Allison Gopnik and Ezra Klein, The Ezra Klein Show and the New York Times.
Date: April 16, 2021
So, what did you think? Do you still ‘play’ from time to time (playing on purpose does not really count)? Can you see the adaptive value in a developmental shift from exploring to exploiting and does the Buddhist concept of a ‘Beginner’s Mind’ make sense for adults as well and children? I was also taken with Allison Gopnik discussion of how Octopi adapt to their worlds in one short year of life. If you would like to see how that works, and how having a central brain and a brain in each tentacle can invoke a balance of playing and thinking consider watch the documentary My Octopus Teacher that is nominated for an Oscar this year.
Questions for Discussion:
- What does play do for small children?
- What can ‘play’ do for adults?
- How are the Beginner’s Mind, play, and the distinction between exploring and exploiting related and how does a developmental perspective help answer this question?
References (Read Further):
Gopnik, A. (2020). Childhood as a solution to explore–exploit tensions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 375(1803), 20190502. Link
Ruggeri, A., Walker, C. M., Lombrozo, T., & Gopnik, A. (2021). How to Help Young Children Ask Better Questions?. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 2908. Link
Gopnik, A. (2016). The gardener and the carpenter: What the new science of child development tells us about the relationship between parents and children. Macmillan. Review
Glausiusz, J. (2016). Child development: A cognitive case for un‑parenting. Nature, 536(7614), 27-28. Link
Soule, J. (2007). Beginner’s mind. Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping, 13(2), 50-55. Link
Younie, L. (2017). Beginner’s mind. London journal of primary care, 9(6), 83-85. Link