Children and Schemas

Children, who have not yet had experiences with building strategies, changing plans, and taking risks, are not able to understand, for example, a story about adults playing football. If I were to try to convey what such a story is about to a young child, I might focus in on one particular play and describe how it worked, thereby adding more concrete information to adjust for the child's lack of abstract information. Or I might play-act one of the football plays with the child, thereby giving the child a sense of what the experience is like. But until the child generates the abstract schemas which underlie the story, he will not have a very complete understanding of the story. Learning is inextricably linked with the ability to abstract and generalize. If all we ever knew were isolated and unrelated facts, then, we might do very well at a game like Trivial Pursuit, but we wouldn't be able to reason coherently. When we try to teach facts to our children, we must realize that the facts themselves are meaningless unless they are linked to generalizations.

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