Derek Sivers
The Gardener and the Carpenter - by Alison Gopnik

The Gardener and the Carpenter - by Alison Gopnik

ISBN: 0374229708
Date read: 2016-08-10
How strongly I recommend it: 10/10
(See my list of 360+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Great philosophy of parenting, from a grandmother who is a wise professor of philosophy and a developmental psychologist. Such a beautiful mindset and outlook. Required reading for every parent. Re-read it often as a necessary reminder.

my notes

I would not evaluate the quality of an old friendship by whether my friend was happier or more successful than when we first met.

The most important rewards of being a parent come from the moment-by-moment physical and psychological joy of being with this particular child, and in that child’s moment-by-moment joy in being with you.

Love’s purpose is not to shape our beloved’s destiny, but to help them shape their own.

Don't change the people we love, but give them what they need to thrive.

The purpose of loving children is to give those helpless young human beings a rich, stable, safe environment - an environment in which variation, innovation, and novelty can blossom.

Our adult children are and should be foreigners - inhabitants of the future.

Childhood is designed to be a period of variability and possibility, exploration and innovation, learning and imagination.

Being a parent is like being a gardener.

Being a good parent can help create a new generation that is robust and adaptable and resilient, better able to deal with the inevitable, unpredictable changes that face them in the future.

Our job is not to shape our children’s minds; it’s to let those minds explore all the possibilities that the world allows.

Our job is not to tell children how to play; it’s to give them the toys and pick the toys up again after the kids are done.

We can’t make children learn, but we can let them learn.

Parents are not designed to shape their children’s lives. Instead, parents provide the next generation with a protected space in which they can produce new ways of thinking and acting that, for better or worse, are entirely unlike any that we would have anticipated beforehand.

The virtues of chaos - variability, stochasticity, noise, entropy, randomness, disorder - are the wellspring of freedom, innovation, and creativity.

A system that shifts and varies, even randomly, can adapt to a changing world in a more intelligent and flexible way.

Children influence the way their parents behave as much as parents influence children.

Young brains are designed to explore; old brains are designed to exploit.

Meet variability with variability by varying how they think and develop, and what they learn from others.

Having different people take care of children also ensures that children are exposed to a wide variety of information and models.

The variability of each child’s own temperament stand a better chance of survival when things change.

Children actively interpret and try to understand both what people do and why they do it.

Children actually learn more from the unconscious details of what caregivers do than from any of the conscious manipulations of parenting.

Children learn by watching and imitating the people around them.

And they learn by listening to what other people say about how the world works.

The cure for imposter syndrome is to realize that all the other people are just convincing imposters, too.

Children imitate only intentional actions. They try to reproduce what the actor wanted to do - not just the action itself.

Children not only imitate, they overimitate.

Children seem to assume that other people are out to teach them important things about the world unless they get direct evidence to the contrary.

Adults explicitly mark the supernatural by using phrases such as “I believe.” No one ever says, “I believe in oranges.”

Children really do want answers to their questions, really do look for good explanations, and really do learn from them.

Children don’t just want more information about the world; they want causal information that will let them understand the world in a deeper and broader way - information that will enable future learning.

Early rough-and-tumble play is associated with better social competence later on.

Good scientists should be more interested in evidence that contradicts their theories than evidence that confirms them.

Figuring out what’s going on in other people’s minds: It’s the most important kind of learning people ever do.

People who read a great deal of fiction are consistently more empathetic and better at understanding other people.

Teaching seemed to discourage the children from discovering all the possibilities the toy had to offer. The children were more eager to imitate the teacher than to discover things themselves. When the adult said that she had no idea how the toy worked, the children discovered the more intelligent strategy.

Imagine if we taught baseball the way we teach science. Until they were twelve, children would read about baseball technique and history, and occasionally hear inspirational stories of the great baseball players. They would fill out quizzes about baseball rules. College undergraduates might be allowed, under strict supervision, to reproduce famous historic baseball plays. But only in the second or third year of graduate school, would they, at last, actually get to play a game.

Managing wide-ranging networks of friendships and alliances, divisions of labor, negotiations, compromises, and interests is among our most significant human challenges. When school-age children play with their friends, they are developing these abilities.

Games that children organize themselves are more interesting and profound.

Socrates feared that reading and writing would undermine the kind of interactive, critical dialogue that was so important for reflective thought. Socrates was completely right. On balance, though, the benefits outweighed the drawbacks.

The shift to new technologies and cultures wouldn’t be possible if caregivers didn’t pass on their own discoveries, traditions, skills, and values to their children, even if they can’t and shouldn’t expect that children will simply replicate those traditions.

We give children a structured, stable environment, and that’s exactly what allows them to be variable, random, unpredictable, and messy. We give them a world to re-create.

A parent is a person whose self has been expanded to include the values and interests of another person, even when those values and interests are different from his.