Language Acquisition and "Delving Spirit"

On this week’s episode of On Being, an NPR program, host Krista Tippet interviews Jean Berko Gleason, a a psycholinguist and one of the pioneers of the field and of children’s language acquisition. The interview reflects the program’s theme ‘on being’ and how both language and working with children unfold our own ‘being’ and also how language reflects who we are and how we think. You might be familiar with at least one concept the Berko Gleason is known for: wug. I am particularly fascinated by two ideas raised in the interview and essay. The first is that we adults emerge and unfold as more human as we engage with children. Tippet borrows a phrase from psychologist Robert Coles, “delving spirit,” to characterize this interaction. And the second is that language is fundamental to this delving and emergence of self. I’m curious what you think about these ideas and to others raised in the essay and/or interview. The link above is to an essay by Tippet based on the interview, includes the wug test, and links to an MP3 download and podcast of the interview.