Child Development by John W Santrock review.

Child Development by John W Santrock

Child Development is a well organised and user friendly pedagogical book. Santrock says, “This book is about children’s development – its universal features, its individual variations, its nature at the beginning of the twenty-first century.”
John Santrock’s Child Development is probably the most up to date, well researched and therefore the most accurate book in its field. Now in its fourteenth edition it has certainly stood the test of time considering it was first published in 1978. This topically organised text presents a wealth of information that is applicable and adaptable and is uncomplicated to read and understand. Eloquently written and logically presented it covers all aspects of child development including physical, perceptual, cognition, language, socioemotional and social contexts. It also includes solid, cohesive analysis of significant matters such as families, school issues and culture and ethnicity.
Child Development is a comprehensive book incorporating both the historical and contemporary. Therefore giving a very balanced view on the subject in hand. It starts out with a thorough foundation on the science of child development, looking at the theories and the psychologists behind them. Figure 2.12 offers an at a glance comparison table of all five types of theories – their methodologies and problems. The opening story in this chapter about the lives of Erik Erikson and Jean Piaget highlights how an individual’s experiences impact on the path they will take in life (as is shown in their two very different theories), a pertinent point to make at the outset of this book. Research methods and their descriptions tie suitably into the theories they might be used for. The text moves on to provide an engaging and sometimes surprising look at the numerous and detailed ways in which we develop and grow. The segment on Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory is thoroughly explained. His approach being central to the school of theory known as cognitive constructivism, though his view differs from Vygotsky, who laid more emphasis on language and other people in enabling children to learn.  The comparison of the Information Processing Approach with the Cognitive Developmental Approaches reaches the conclusion that ??
Santrock writes that “Intelligence is one of our most prized possessions”. A construct, which can only be studied indirectly, that includes problem solving abilities, spatial manipulation and language acquisition.
Emotional development,The self and identity, Gender, Moral Development
Families, Peers, Schools, Culture

The success of Child Development lies not only in its well-researched content but also in its unique lay out. Each chapter begins with a real life story as a lead in to the focus that is to be discussed. Readers will find the story of the Jim and Jim twins especially enthralling. Pictures, diagrams, charts and summary tables are extremely helpful visual illustrations and allow the reader to further consider and indeed consolidate the information being relayed. There is a mini glossary of terms incorporated into the main text pages as well a comprehensive glossary at the close  of the book, again giving the opportunity to fully assimilate the vocabulary used. “Through the minds of psychologists”, with a quote from and photograph of a leading psychologist and “Adventures for the mind”, an aid to analytical thinking, are both interesting features in each chapter that add to the learning this book has to offer. While “Explorations in child development”, investigates treatments, programmes and information that enhance life for children. The section on Dr Tiffany Field’s research into the capacity of massage to improve the development of preterm and at risk babies is a fascinating read. A “cognitive map” at the beginning and end of each chapter showing an overview are an effective way to grasp what the chapter is about and to review it at the finish (with cross linkage to summary tables). Each chapter concludes with a section including key terms, key people, resources available and a well-designed “Taking it to the net” section, where questions are posed and can be explored and answered through links on the internet. Quotes and cartoons add more food for thought and a little humour. “The error of youth is to believe that intelligence is a substitute for experience, while the error of age is to believe that experience is a substitute for intelligence”, (Lyman Bryson, American Author, 20th Century).
It is possible a number of readers may find the plethora of features of this book too visually stimulating with, perhaps, so many thought provoking morsels fighting for space it detracts from the serious work of the text itself.  Also Santrock’s use of the terms “retarded” and “retardation” may be considered offensive to many. This language is no longer deemed acceptable and is politically incorrect. Maybe more appropriate vocabulary could be employed in further revisions. I feel that there is stereotyping occurring when he refers to Asians having more mathematical ability than other races as he has not included any statistical data to back this given statement. This book is utilised as a textbook for child psychology classes but equally it makes an undemanding read for those interested in the subject generally, parents or people working with children. I have found the real life stories??
“Life is lived forward but understood backwards” (Soren Kierkegaard, Danish Philosopher, 19th Century)

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