Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley. She received her BA from McGill University and her PhD. from Oxford University. Her honors include a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada University Research Fellowship, an Osher Visiting Scientist Fellowship at the Exploratorium, a Center for the Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences Fellowship, and a Moore Fellowship at the California Institute of Technology. She is an internationally recognized leader in the study of children’s learning and development and was the first to argue that children’s minds could help us understand deep philosophical questions. She was one of the founders of the study of "theory of mind", illuminating how children come to understand the minds of others, and she formulated the "theory theory", the idea that children’s learn in the same way that scientists do.
She is the author of over 100 articles and several books including "Words, thoughts and theories" (coauthored with Andrew Meltzoff), MIT Press, 1997, "The Scientist in the Crib" (coauthored with Andrew Meltzoff and Patricia Kuhl) William Morrow, 1999, and the just published "The Philosophical Baby; What children’s minds tell us about love, truth and the meaning of life" Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2009. "The Scientist in the Crib" was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller, was translated into 20 languages and was enthusiastically reviewed in Science, The New Yorker, the Washington Post and The New York Review of Books (among others). She has also written for Science, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, New Scientist, and Slate.
She has spoken extensively on children’s minds including keynote speeches to political organizations such as the World Economic Forum and the Organization for Economic Development, children’s advocacy organizations including Parents as Teachers and Zero to Three, museums including The Exploratorium, The Chicago Children’s Museum, and the Bay Area Discovery Museum, and science organizations including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The American Psychological Association, the Association of Psychological Science, and the American Philosophical Association. She has also appeared on Charlie Rose, Nova, and many NPR radio programs. She has three sons and lives in Berkeley, California.
Alison Gopnik insists that her experience studying the development of children’s minds did nothing to help her raise her own children.
To developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik, early education has it all wrong: class and study based teaching is counterintuitive and demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how our minds grow.