|Book cover photo |
I recently finally finished Theories of Childhood by Carol Garhart Mooney. It's an overview of several educational theorists--John Dewey, Maria Montessori, Erik Erikson, Jean Piaget, and Lev Vygotsky. In addition to giving a brief history and synopsis of each theory, Mooney also gives some practical connections and practices that grow from each theory. I was familiar with most of these theories and got some great reminders about them. I was most unfamiliar with Vygotsky. I found myself identifying with lots of what was communicated about each theory.
What was my takeaway from this book: Each of the theories discussed focused (in some aspect) on children learning through experiences and hands-on work. Play is a key component in most of the theories. Kids need real work to do and real tools to use to do it. Teachers play an important role in providing a suitable environment and helping kids expand their thinking. Teachers can help provide vocabulary and other tools to aid learning, but the real work of learning is made up of the child's experiences. (Note: This isn't any one theory or a consensus among the people featured. It's just my gleaning from all of the theories.)
I'd recommend reading this book. If you're looking for in-depth study of any of these theories, this book does not do that. However, to get a glimpse of these theories (and to find resources for further reading), this book is a good place to start. If nothing else, it will stimulate your thinking about kids, learning, and the environment.
(I'd be glad to send my copy to someone if you are interested in reading it. First person who asks for it in the comments can have it.)