The Architecture of Social Relationships and Thinking Spaces for Growth

  • Anne-Nelly Perret-Clermont


Psychologists who spend a lot of time observing children know how much effort it requires from their parents, teachers and others to help them develop the capacity to listen, to make their own points and desires clear, and then to find ways to negotiate perspectives and actions that can satisfy all partners and not only their immediate wish. This is a long way towards the managing of frustration and the discovery of the world. It requires the learning of both self-control and the understanding of social order. In doing so, individuals interiorize the expectations and moral values of their family and group of belonging. Under certain circumstances, they are likely to develop a critical reflection of these concepts. This social and cognitive development starts with play and toys, personal belongings and common properties (Rosciano, 2008); includes making friends (Selman, 1980); and continues with joint activities (Rubtsov, 1989), exploratory talk and dialogue in school situations (Mercer, 2000; Mercer & Littleton, 2007; Littleton & Howe, 2010), group work (Schwarz et al., 2008; Howe, 2010; Tar tas et al., 2010; Buchs et al, 2013), informal spaces of cooperation (Ghodbane, 2009) and involvement in youth based organizations (Heath, 2004). Only with the careful training of their social and cognitive skills and with rich “symbolic resources”(Zittoun, 2006) can young people be raised into cooperative adults patient enough to invest time in discovering ways to resolve their conflicts or overcome disruptive events with “imagination” (Zittoun & Cerchia, 2013) and hence to expand their futures.


Social Relationship Social Skill Cognitive Development Intergroup Relation Exploratory Talk 
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