Pentimento: A 21st Century View on the Canvas of Motor Development

in Kinesiology Review

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Jane E. Clark
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How we understand the emergence and development of motor behavior and skillfulness has itself developed over the last 50 years. In reflecting on the history of motor development, it is important to recognize that these ‘reflections’ are much like the painter’s “pentimento.” That is, the ‘canvas’ we paint today of what our science was decades ago is actually a painting with many layers—each representing where our views have changed along the journey. I do not “repent” with these reflections, as suggested by the term, pentimento, but rather I seek to bring a developmental perspective to our scientific inquiries into motor development with an element of a revisionist’s approach. What were the key discoveries and the seminal papers that influenced our canvas of motor development that we view today? Almost three decades ago, we (Clark & Whitall, 1989) outlined an historical framework for the field of motor development. Today, we can look back at that framework and the ensuing science and consider where we have been and what we have learned and ask: What does the pentimento of our motor development canvas reveal?

Clark is with the Department of Kinesiology, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

Address author correspondence to Jane E. Clark at
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