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"A dominant theme within cognitive developmental psychology over the last thirty years has been that children look more clever in proportion to the cleverness of experimenters. That is, as experimenters develop more subtle ways to evaluate children, it becomes clear that children understand more at a younger age than we appreciated. They were capable of learning it all the time. The problem lay in how we were looking."
I thought of some of Mike's work when I read this interesting piece. Willingham is a cognitive psychologist but I see him making a cultural psychology claim here.