Cognitive Science Colloquium
Children are active social learners
Both traditional and current social learning theories show that much of what infants and young children learn about the physical and social world is socially transmitted, and recent advances suggest important ways in which teaching provides useful constraints on the massive amount of information available to young learners. But emphasizing transmission alone does not address how and when teaching leads to learning. I will argue that the missing link is in the mind of the child, and will show through a range of empirical examples the ways in which children use their emerging conceptual knowledge to actively interpret socially transmitted information - meaning specifically that children evaluate both the quality and the nature of the evidence it provides. Studying children as active social learners helps explain how they learn about the world, about the minds of others, and about culture.