Great Oaks From Little Acorns Grow Essay Outline

In the Preface to the book “Primate Ecology” (1977), its editor, Tim Clutton-Brock, states that the volume grew out of the regular ruminations that occurred at a primate field workers' discussion group. The book became a “classic”; part of its success is due to the approach taken by the various contributing authors. It was simple and straightforward, and the authors all agreed to focus on a uniform topics coverage list. The belief was that such coverage would allow for a consideration of inter- and intraspecific differences in the feeding and ranging behavior of primates. The book served as a stimulus for a proliferation of focused and invaluable field studies. Good ideas and approaches can pay off with dividends.

In the Preface to the presently reviewed volume, it is made clear that its impetus was a symposium entitled “Human Evolution and Human Development,” which was held in October 2012 at the University of Notre Dame. This is expanded upon in Chapter 1:

The book delves into several issues. First, it probes the question of whether there is an optimal range of infant and childhood care and what it might look like … A second question is whether some societies have stepped out of the optimal range for child rearing (Edgerton, 1992) … we are also confident that having a strong empirically based beginning point, a baseline perspective, is the first step in understanding why infants respond and develop as they do. (Narvaez, Valentino, Fuentes, McKenna and Gray, 2014, pp. 4–5)

Throughout the book the contributing scholars emphasize the complex relationship between our biology and the prevailing culture by framing current social environments with ancestral conditions. The present volume follows the efforts of those such as Beatrice and John Whiting (1975), whose “six culture project” hoped to move the knowledge of social behavior of children brought up in different parts of the world in a meaningful way. The immediate question could appropriately be, “does the reviewed volume succeed?” The correct answer is a simple, “yes.”

The book succeeds in a number of respects, and bringing focus onto these would be appropriate. One important consideration for any volume is the selection of contributing authors. In this volume, symposium participants were approached and the contributing authors were joined by participants from a 2010 symposium held at Notre Dame that was entitled “Human Nature and Early Experience: Addressing the, ‘Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness.’ ” If this wasn't sufficient coverage already, contributions on the various book sections were solicited from other leaders in their respective fields to provide commentary articles. This group includes the likes of researchers such as Melvin Konner, the author of a 960 page book entitled “The Evolution of Childhood: Relationships, Emotion, Mind.” Konner's commentary, extending but four pages, provides a wonderful framework for those chapters that were included under the section on “Contexts for the Evolution of Families and Children.” Nearly all chapters are followed by respective commentaries providing alternative interpretations and/or perspectives, and their inclusion highlights the comprehensive approach taken throughout this book. Finally, it would be a gross oversight not to mention the caliber of the team that provided the volume's editing; the brief thumbnail sketches in the “About the Editors” section make it obvious that, without exception, this is a stellar assemblage.

A second area where this volume succeeds is that of topic coverage. There are five broad subject sections: I. Baselines for Human Mammalian Development; II. Evolution's Baseline: Hunter-Gatherer Contexts; III. Contexts for the Evolution of Families and Children; IV. Contexts Gone Awry; V. Child Flourishing. The average section has three chapters of roughly 25 pages apiece. The critical commentaries added another 36 pages to the volume. The descriptive statistics of the layout are hardly the noteworthy feature of the book, however. It's the chapters themselves that are of a laudable standard. Topics such as, epigenetics are included, relying on citations to work as recent as 2013. Behavioral work on the “Efe,” “Batek,” and “Aka” make this volume a valuable resource, particularly in light of the paucity of good observational work on groups such as these that, until recently, had somehow ended up with little impact from their first world contact. Furthermore, these studies of hunter-gatherer social structure are valuable in illustrating the collective nature and interplay of childrearing and attachment.

Part of what makes a chapter worth reading is the residual effects that may follow in terms of questions and extensions. The chapters within this volume are certainly thought provoking. We refrain from providing a detailed summary of each contribution, as the preface already provides such an informative overview, but we can assure you that many of the chapters more than succeed in providing a pleasing aftertaste. In order to more concretely document this, the chapter by Peter Gray left the first author of this review wondering about issues related to sexually dimorphic behavior patterns such as rough-and-tumble play. Recently, studies have made their way into the primate play literature questioning the cross-species occurrence of quantitative differences in this play category (Birnie, Hendricks, Smith, Milan, and French, 2012; Chau, Stone, Mendoza, and Bales, 2008). Gray focuses on play in hunter-gatherer groups and provides an intriguing discussion and interpretation. Chapters provided by other contributors provide equally engaging topic viewpoints. It is not the intention of this review to rank or grade the individual chapters, since the book as a whole provides an exceedingly rich coverage of evolutionary aspects of childhood and parenting. Thus, we feel this volume is well suited for the readers of Evolutionary Psychology.

In the Postscript, James J. McKenna pays very appropriate homage to the ideas and work of the late John Bowlby. He states that, “… every chapter in this volume reflects Bowlby's insistence on integration, holism, and using multidisciplinary perspectives to enrich, validate and more fully if not critically explore the accuracy of any given set of underlying assumptions” (p. 349). The publication of the present volume, its predecessor (Narvaez, Panksepp, Schore, and Gleason, 2013), and other recent volumes such as “Romania's Abandoned Children” (Nelson, Fox, and Zeanah, 2014) make it clear that verdant growth in this area is underway. It is clear from the caliber of this volume that “collected conference proceedings” volumes with multiple editors can share shelf space with single or multi-authored volumes of a more conventional nature. This volume actually succeeded so well that we are now eager to take a careful look at the published earlier volume that focused on environments of evolutionary adaptedness (Narvaez et al., 2013). It is hoped that numerous topics will branch off from now and provide wide-reaching examinations related to the question of optimal childcare and its impact on the developing individual and his/her behavior. With foundations this strong, the field can truly expand and flourish.

Proverb Expansion


Compared to the big oak tree the acorn is a very small seed. But the seed when matured grows into huge tree in course of time. If we study the history of many of the big business in the world, we can see that they all grew up from small and humble beginnings. The proverb has another meaning too, many of the richest men in the world had a humble beginning in life. With hard and sincere efforts, they earned the posi­tion and status.

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