chapter
8 Pages

Introduction: going backwards to move forwards – understanding the shortcomings of developmental science

BySTEFAN HAMPL, DAVID CARRÉ, JAAN VALSINER

Any science is built upon the basis of a set of social representations. In turn, as a knowledge-making enterprise, any science is also a vehicle for representing knowledge-to itself and to the whole of humankind. Such representing process is inevitably embedded in its social-historical frame: for example, it made sense to medieval alchemists to try to make gold out of any other substance. Nowadays we might chuckle over the “naïve” efforts of the alchemists-just to fall short in noticing our own simplicity. In this way, it makes perfect sense for our contemporary educational sciences to search for precursors of children’s future academic success in early infancy and childhood. The inevitable fact that an exact prediction of such success is unrealistic on axiomatic grounds-given the opensystemic nature of development-does not stop us all from thinking in terms of predictions. The socially desirable, common-sense goal of wishing the best for our offspring makes us blind to the reality that the future is continuously being constructed by relating with our environments.1 The accepted social representation of prediction —which has led the advance of material sciences-has guided our thinking away from another social representation: construction.