The Gardener and the Carpenter

  • by Alison Gopnik
  • Narrated by Erin Bennett
  • 8 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Caring deeply about our children is part of what makes us human. Yet the thing we call "parenting" is a surprisingly new invention. In the past 30 years, the concept of parenting and the multibillion-dollar industry surrounding it have transformed child care into obsessive, controlling, and goal-oriented labor intended to create a particular kind of child and therefore a particular kind of adult.
In The Gardener and the Carpenter, pioneering developmental psychologist and philosopher Alison Gopnik argues that the familiar 21st-century picture of parents and children is profoundly wrong - it's not just based on bad science, it's bad for kids and parents, too. Drawing on the study of human evolution and her own cutting-edge scientific research into how children learn, Gopnik shows that although caring for children is profoundly important, it is not a matter of shaping them to turn out a particular way. Children are designed to be messy and unpredictable, playful and imaginative, and very different both from their parents and from each other. The variability and flexibility of childhood lets them innovate, create, and survive in an unpredictable world. "Parenting" won't make children learn - but caring parents let children learn by creating secure, loving environments.


What the Critics Say

"Narrator Erin Bennett commendably presents this unique audiobook on raising children. Alison Gopnik, an expert on children's development, lambasts the current style of parenting, which she calls the 'carpenter method' because it relies on an established blueprint (as in making a chair) to produce a successful but predictable child who also excels at test taking. Gopnik prefers the 'gardener approach,' which gives the child love, encouragement, and freedom to play and imagine, which she says results in a more creativity. Bennett's delivery of Gopnik's passionate argument is appealing and easy to understand. She also captures Gopnik's subtle humor and supporting quotes from experts. The moving conclusion comes full circle as it discusses end-of-life commitments that adult children have to their elderly parents." ( AudioFile Magazine)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

One of the best books I have listened too

Whilst I agree with other reviews that the title doesn't sum up the book well, the book was much better than I had anticipated from the title! Tons of scientific information, from all areas of science e.g. genetics, behavioural, written in accessible language. Gopnik is not patronising and is critical of her own arguments - two qualities which made this book a very enjoyable listen. The topics are fascinating too, and cover arguments I have not read about elsewhere (and I have read alot on child development.) If I was to give the book a more suiting title it would be; an overview on the past present and future of childhood and child raising. Note: this is not a parenting book as such, rather a interesting viewpoint on childhood, which is nonetheless relevant and accessible to parents - just don't expect any solutions to your parenting worries!
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- Megan

Poor story, well read

Although the title suggests telling us about scientific side of child and parent relationship and it does while annoyingly mixing facts with lots of personal individual experiences of the writer.
This book enchanted me when I read the introduction, when explaining about carpenter and gardner parents, difference of parenting and being a part, when she elegantly put pieces together why we have children in this age, in this world.
But the more I read, the less she explained the reason of having children and simply stoped after one simple fact that we have children because we love them. Almost entire book is about science of having baby and less and less carpenter and gardner parents.
I think the writer was lost from the very subject of book, from very enchanting, smart introduction through out the whole book.
It is a good book to realise new findings in science related to babies and how they grow up BUT extremely poor to make any original point about parenting and being a parent.
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- Afshin Iraninejad

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-08-2016
  • Publisher: Audible Studios