Cover: The Hungry Mind: The Origins of Curiosity in Childhood, from Harvard University PressCover: The Hungry Mind in PAPERBACK

The Hungry Mind

The Origins of Curiosity in Childhood

In The Hungry Mind, Engel draws on the latest social science research and incidents from her own life to understand why curiosity is nearly universal in babies, pervasive in early childhood, and less evident in school… Engel’s most important finding is that most classroom environments discourage curiosity… In an era that prizes quantifiable results, a pedagogy that privileges curiosity is not likely to be a priority.—Glenn C. Altschuler, Psychology Today

Susan Engel’s The Hungry Mind, a book which engages in depth with how our interest and desire to explore the world evolves, makes a valuable contribution not only to the body of academic literature on the developmental and educational psychology of children, but also to our knowledge on why and how we learn… The author does a brilliant job connecting a wide range of essential 20th century research on the development of children and turning these insights into a coherent narrative about how children become aware of and interact with their environment… A highly informative but also very enjoyable read.—Inez von Weitershausen, LSE Review of Books

The Hungry Mind is an exploration of curiosity, including both its origins in infancy and the ways in which it changes and develops over time. Engel considers how education can support or squelch curiosity and makes recommendations for fostering curiosity in children as a way of making them into intrinsically motivated, life-long learners. I know of no other book that investigates the subject in such depth or breadth. It will be of interest to psychologists, parents, teachers, and educational policymakers alike.—Tracy Gleason, Wellesley College

Educational achievement is often viewed as a competitive, joyless struggle in which some children get left behind. One fashionable remedy for those stragglers is to inculcate them with more grit, self-control, or resilience. Engel offers a more radical proposal—one that builds on children’s strengths. She reminds us that children are naturally—and deeply—curious. They stare at novelty, point quizzically at the unexpected, and ask for explanations. And children learn best when their curiosity is piqued. Hard-pressed teachers who insist on taking time to nurture children’s delight in uncertainty, suspense, and, mystery will take heart from this eloquent and humane book.—Paul L. Harris, Harvard University

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