Book Review: Theories of Childhood: Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget, & Vygotsky (1st Ed.)

Mooney’s Theories of Childhood is intended to familiarize or familiarize educators with the primary theorists of childhood development and learning. Included in this work are summaries of concepts developed by Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget, and Vygotsky. While these theories differ in some ways, for example Montessori focused on ways to make the environment more conducive to childhood learning. In contrast, Vygotsky focused on the importance of social interactions and how they promote learning. Regardless of how much these theories differ, the common factor among them is that the types of experiences they have dramatically affect children. While it might seem apparent that this is the case, a cursory observation of some parents and teachers will make clear that many people, once caught up in a situation, fail to keep in mind the significance of each experience in a child’s life.

Because human development is so complex, each of these theories alone does not seem to adequately explain childhood development and learning. Taken collectively, however, these theories can offer a diverse set of resources from which to draw from to maximize learning potential of the experiences of children. To aid in understanding this, Mooney has included real-world examples of how these principles can be applied. Even though the target audience is professional educators, parents, too, could benefit greatly from reading this concise volume. That being said, the further reading sections at the end of each chapter should be taken advantage of by both parents and educators so as to gain the greatest understanding of childhood development to ensure the children in their care are best served.

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