Check out our latest installment of Dear Me, Future Psychologist, a gradPSYCH Blog exclusive in which a prominent psychologist writes a letter to their 16-year-old self. We hope you enjoy these letters and glean some invaluable wisdom and guidance as you decide whether to enter graduate school in psychology, as you navigate the challenges of graduate school, and as you make decisions about your career and life.
This letter is from Dr. Alison Gopnik. Dr. Gopnik is a professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley, where she has taught since 1988. She received her BA from McGill University and her PhD. from Oxford University. She is a world leader in cognitive science, particularly the study of children’s learning and development. She is the author of over 100 journal articles and several books including the bestselling and critically acclaimed popular books “The Scientist in the Crib” William Morrow, 1999, “The Philosophical Baby; What children’s minds tell us about love, truth and the meaning of life” Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2009, and “The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the new science of child development tells us about the relationship between parents and children” Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2016. She is a fellow of the Cognitive Science Society and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
She writes the Mind and Matter science column for the Wall Street Journal. And she has also written widely about cognitive science and psychology for The New Yorker, Science, The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, New Scientist and Slate, among others. She has frequently appeared on TV and radio including “The Charlie Rose Show” and “The Colbert Report”. Her TED talk has been seen over 2.75 million times. She has three sons and three grand-children and lives in Berkeley, California with her husband Alvy Ray Smith.
FROM THE DESK OF ALISON GOPNIK:
Now by all the rules, you should be the one who is hesitant and uncertain, just starting out in life as you are, and I should be the one who’s figured it all out – I have the very unfair advantage, after all, of knowing how things will turn out. But, knowing you as I do, I’m afraid it’s mostly going to be the reverse. You are so sure about who you are and what you’re going to do, and most of my wisdom is a lifetime’s accumulation of doubt, even about the most fundamental biographical facts.