Children Count

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1978, Vol 23(11), 913–914. Reviews the book, Children's Arithmetic: The Learning Process by Herbert Ginsburg (1977). This book is a two-part study. The first part describes the development of counting in children from birth to about 6-7 years of age. It is intended to show something of this development in a variety of cultures and to show how the counting competence that develops might serve as a kind of informal “intuition” that can be used as a basis for a more formal instruction in school. The second part focuses on arithmetic as taught in school. In it, Ginsburg describes, largely by reference to his own work and that of his colleagues, a good deal about children's strategies for dealing with the algorithms of addition and subtraction. This book is a welcome addition to the growing literature on children's mathematical behavior. However, it is a limited one, he does not deal with the manipulation of continuous quantity nor with the semantic referents of the discrete quantities with which he does deal. Nonetheless, the domain he has chosen to address is an important one, and one that Ginsburg engages with a humanity and a care for children that is unfortunately all too uncommon. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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