155: Designing the Creative Child by Amy F. Ogata

by Gerard


155.413350973: Ogata, Amy F. Designing the Creative Child: Playthings and Places in Midcentury America. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2013. 193 pp. ISBN 978-08166-7960-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 150: Psychology
  • 155: Differential and development psychology
  • 155.4: Child psychology
  • 155.41: General topics of child psychology
  • 155.413: Cognitive development
  • 155.41335: Creativity
  • +0973: United States

Amy Ogata’s Designing the Creative Child is an exceptionally interesting book on the development of both child psychology and playthings in America during the baby boom years following World War II. Her premise is that the massive influx of new children into the American population changed the landscape of both psychology and education. With this increased population of new subjects from which to glean information, child psychologists and developmental theorists were able to further insights into the infant and child psyche. Also, the influx of new children led to an era of vigorous school-building and education reforms, including new and inventive techniques that combined Montessori and classical models of educations. These new techniques combined with expertly designed playthings were all in an effort to cultivate the boomer child’s imagination.

While this may on the surface to be a lofty treatise for the psychology specialist, there is a lot of information here for the casual reader as well. Ogata’s history details the development and introduction of certain toys and products and how their invention complimented the new social and commercial landscape of 1950s America. Readers who were born into the baby boom generation may even remember some of the toys, television shows, and books described here. Ogata’s investigations reveal that toy designers as well as architects and artists were swept up in this era of shepherding creative children to make items that were both visually and intellectually appealing. This era of creativity-bolstering in America is contrasted against the Soviet model which the author contends was built upon the twin tenets of dogma and discipline. All in all, this book was pretty informative. Ogata’s research is clearly evident and I applaud her inclusion of numerous illustrations of toy advertisements, products designs, and school blueprints to show how the task of raising creative children in the 1950s and 1960s saturated many areas of American society. A delightfully educational book.