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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction to the First Edition Jargon does not help students to grasp the important ideas of Piaget or Erikson. Memorizing names and stages out of con- text does not build the bridge we need between child devel- opment and children. I know that too many classrooms offer this textbook approach to theory, because when I ask teach- ers what they remember about child development theories from their college classes, too many of them respond, “Very little!” Others will tell me that they could never remember whether Erikson was the one who talked about feelings and Piaget about thought or the other way around. I can picture these students chanting, “Piaget, Swiss psychologist, cognitive development theory,” as one might memorize state capitals and major rivers. Given this kind of introduction to theory, it is no wonder so many directors say, “Just send me someone who has good sense about kids!” As directors struggle with staffing shortages and inad- equately prepared teachers, however, it is more important to them that teachers know basic development information, such as that babies always need to be held during feeding. Teachers may not need to know that Erik Erikson was born in Germany and brought us the psychosocial theory of devel- opment, but they will do their jobs better if they know that holding babies while they are being fed helps the children to develop trust in grown-ups. Theory needs to be real to the developing teacher. It needs to be tested in practice and adapted to the realities of individual children and classrooms. This ongoing process is what builds the bridge between theory and practice. When directors and teachers see how understanding child development theory makes their days with children smoother, their jobs easier, and their programs stronger, then they will value this knowledge. 10 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL