Greater Expectations Review Questions, Chapters 4 - 5

Chapter 4 - Misconceptions of Modern Times

Damon argues that Modernity has had contrasting effects: both good and bad results. Explain.

Check your understanding of the definitions of the words - "anachronistic" (p.66) "aggrandizement" p. 68 "nihilism"

In this chapter, Damon argues that modernity led to new beliefs that combine valid insights with dangerous myth, and new practices that are well-intended but wrong-headed. Where do the "valid insights" originate, according to Damon? [Note that much of the focus of both chapters 4 and 5 is on why certain practices (of parents, teachers, schools) are wrong-headed.]

Damon says nihilism has minimal impact on child-rearing practices. But Egoism and derogation of faith have led to misguided child-rearing practices. As you review this chapter, focus on getting a sense of why Damon makes these claims, and the kind of evidence he provides.

What is the "self-esteem myth"? What is wrong with our modern beliefs about the importance of self esteem? (p. 68)

Damon notes that one important question about development is whether healthy development leads to self-esteem, or, conversely, does self-esteem lead to healthy development. Which of these two views does Damon think is most widely shared in contemporary American society?

What is wrong with the idea that extensive praise builds self-esteem? (That is, why is the "I'M TERRIFIC" card his kindergartner brought home problematic?

Why is a focus on self-esteem not a useful point of entry into the young child's psychological world? (72)

Complete this sentence, "If they are to have impact, personal statements about what a child is like must be embedded in _____________. " Explain.

What are some of the effects of empty comments aimed at "building" a child's self-esteem ? (73)

Give an example of how popular beliefs about self-esteem are out of touch with scientific findings. (There is a quote from Wylie that might be useful here.)

Why is the task of understanding girls’ self-esteem especially difficult?

Damon argues that we need to place more emphasis on rules and guidelines and less on children's mental states. Explain.

Why do parents not expect children to provide service (work, help out with domestic tasks, etc.)? (83-4)

[You might be interested in identifying the three elements that characterize spirituality for children. Do you agree that there is less emphasis on spirituality in families today?]


Chapter 5 - Misconceptions (Part 2)

Give examples of what Damon means when he says both educators and parents are polarized by oppositional thinking. Political and civic leaders also engage in oppositional thinking. Why? With what effects? (95-6) How do the media foster this type of thinking? (95-6)

[In this chapter Damon trys to demonstrate why we need to grasp more subtle and complex truths in order to solve youth problems by providing children with proper guidance.]

Identify some false oppositions associated with "child-centered" and "adult-centered" views. (99)

Describe the main characteristics of constructivism (103)

Constructivism is attributed by some to Piaget. Why is the fact that Piaget was also an interactionist significant, from Damon's perspective? In other words, how might an interactionist "stance" toward child development affect how we think about the child-centeredness/constructivismissue?

What are some of the adverse effects of constructivism? What are the problems with this approach, as currently implemented? (104-5)

Note the key points of Damon's discussion of motivation and teaching. (106-7)

The section on adult-centered imbalances includes a discussion of the popular belief in the importance of bonding (110-) Describe the nature of this "myth".

Why do Diane Eyer and other critics view the emphasis on the long-term effects of maternal bonding as, essentially, an ideology that oppresses women? How did the field of obstetrics react to public misconceptions about bonding? (112)

How does attachment research modify and correct misconceptions about bonding? What is essential for healthy development (and from whom)? What do children really need according to Damon?

How does Damon view the working mother "problem"? ª114-5)

Describe some examples of false oppositions that have emerged in the field of education in recent decades. (118-122)

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Revised 9/3/01 jka.