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John T. Bruer

The Myth of the First Three Years Translated from english (United States) by Claire Larsonneur. - Publication date : February 1, 2002

Having being told over and over again that the first three years of childhood are crucial, many parents are now convinced that the development of their child’s intelligence has been absolutely determined during those years. Is this true? Or is it a myth? Can it really be said that the most important phase in the development of the human brain occurs between birth and a child’s third birthday?
John T. Bruer argues that, although there are critical periods in brain development, cognition lasts not only throughout childhood, but for an entire lifetime. Based on scientific studies and on the latest research in the neurosciences and development psychology, the author demonstrates how children and adults have been programmed for lifelong learning.
Has the excessive significance given to the early years of children’s development kept parents and educators from assuming their full educational responsibilities? Rather than helping children’s development, could it be that the “myth of the first three years” has harmed children’s mental health and stunted their emotional growth?


John T. Bruer is the president of the James S. McDonnell Foundation, St. Louis, Missouri, and a renowned expert in educational research and cognitive science.