Speaker: Prof. Paul Harris, Harvard University

Time: 10:00 - 11:30 a.m., Nov. 22, 2019

Venue: #1113, Wangkezhen Building, Peking University

Abstract: It is often claimed that young children are prone to fantasy. I will argue that they are imaginative but their imagination is constrained by their knowledge of reality. I will illustrate this claim with reference to early pretend play, children’s thinking about the future, their judgments about what is possible, their ability to innovate and their drawings.

Bio: Paul Harris is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Education at Harvard University. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Association for Psychological Science and the British Academy. He is interested in the early development of cognition, emotion and imagination. During the 1980s, his research focused primarily on children’s understanding of mental states, including emotion. The findings were gathered together in his book Children and Emotion, published in 1989. In the 1990s, he began to do research on the development of pretense and imagination and tried to show that the child’s imagination plays a critical role in cognitive development. Currently, he is studying how far children rely on their own first-hand observation or, alternatively, trust what other people tell them – especially when they try to understand a domain of knowledge in which first-hand observation is difficult. His latest book, Trusting What You’re Told: How Children Learn from Others, synthesizes a broad range of findings on this topic.

Host: Dr. Li Yi