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Cognitive Development - Essay Example

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Summary
Jerome Bruner (born 1915) is thought of as one of the most outstanding psychologists of the twentieth century. Bruners involvement in the field of cognitive psychology made him interested in childrens cognitive development and in particular he attempted to investigate processes that underlie the learning by children of language…
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Cognitive Development

Download file to see previous pages... For this latter purpose we can compare the views of Bruner with those of Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), another scholar who had been interested in the same problem and to whom Bruner often refers throughout the book.
The main task that Bruner set before him was to give a proper account of the evident but nevertheless difficult for explanation fact that the majority of children learn language very easily, while it seems that in order for one to be able to learn something completely new, like language is for a child, one must already have some path to follow. For instance, people who learn foreign languages already have a framework of their own language that helps them to structure new knowledge. But the question is what is this framework for children Before we overview answers that Bruner offered for this question, we should briefly describe the views of Wittgenstein that chronologically preceded "Child Talk". Wittgenstein speculated about the influence of the earliest forms of training between a teacher (an adult) and a pupil (a child) which yet contains no real explanations by the teacher and no real understanding by a child, but which with time helps a child to learn widespread judgements and to start following linguistic rules. At this moment a language understanding substitutes simple behavioural reactions that had enabled the early pre-linguistic training (Wittgenstein 1958). In his turn, Bruner in his book confirms the importance of forms of training suggested by Wittgenstein, but adds that such an early training is possible because of the existence of some forms of pre-linguistic communication, which are at least as important, or even more so, than the training. In this way, we can already see in the approach of Bruner the presence of a complex of cognitive endowments and proper encouragement due to social factors which combine to give children the necessary ground for mastering of language. To bolster his case, in a certain opposition to Wittgenstein Bruner points out that normally children do not require to be trained, but rather they seem to have an inborn inclination to manifest attention and accept external reference, which the author calls "referential intersubjectivity" (Bruner 1983, pp. 27, 122). Indeed, as Bruner observes even infants are usually treated by adults as communicative partners as if they could already understand us. At this point it becomes clear why Bruner had to introduce the a priori side of some cognitive endowments and biological inclination inherent to children, which, along with different forms of cultural motivation and social context, enable them to properly master language, and which are functionally similar to children training of Wittgenstein (Bruner 1983, p. 122). One of the concrete manifestations of such endowments is an inborn striving for systematic and abstract perception of the world which is reinforced by the exposure of a baby to repetitive and familiar circumstances that help it to increase the growing sensation of orderliness of the worlds of objects and thoughts. Therefore, infants are highly communicative and enjoy playing (Bruner 1983, 47). By the way, for Bruner, who says that "play is the culture of childhood" (Bruner 1983, p. 121), the perception of children as game players is one of the most important aspects of his views. Bruner suggests that even the earliest games are already linguistic in their ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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