The subtitle of this book, implying a magic formula that lets children's minds blossom, speaks to the dreams of every caring middle-class parent. Would that the book itself spoke as eloquently. The goal itself is well stated: to bring up a child who loves learning and is good at it. Schulman (coauthor, Bringing Up a Moral Child, 1985) also challenges stage theories of development, in particular Piaget's concepts of intellectual development, questioning whether it is indeed necessary, as Piaget suggests, for every child to reinvent the world. Like many other recent students of child development, Schulman presents wide-ranging anecdotal evidence that children, even infants, are smarter than we usually give them credit for and that they can learn from instruction. But Piaget's theories are not demolished; the ages at which the stages take place are advanced. Schulman presents his own four ``functions of intelligence,'' and devotes the bulk of the book to lessons on how to stimulate those functions in children. Most of the recommendations involve a range of knowledge, time, and dedicated interest that most parents simply don't have, no matter how well intentioned they are. The physics of rocket flight? The why of rapids? How realistic is it to plan a trip to the grocery story so that every step increases the child's knowledge of causality and relationships? That doesn't give parents much leeway to deal with the grocery list or with their own tired feet. A useful supplementary reference for students of child development, but burdensome for parents.
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