Tag Archives: cognitive

CollegeQandA reviews: Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools

Book Review: Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools

Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools

Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools is an excellent book for teachers (and some learners) on what may be wrong with our teaching approach; it isn’t necessarily us, but might be an institutional situation.  After reading this book, I had to get back to blogging.  I’ve been trying to finish up my own book, and this book comes along and shatters/challenges/supports many of my previous perspectives on teaching in an elegant succinct way.

So, why is this book shattering some of my views on education?  Well, having read the book, many of the ideas line up well with preexisting beliefs I have about learning.  Dr. Schank, however, structures many of these ideas in a better way.

The major idea in the book is his clear explanation in chapter 4 of the “twelve cognitive principles that underlie learning”.   His main thesis is that these principles are captured in what we all do in our lives, jobs, and education, and that they should be a fundamental focus of learning as opposed to knowledge and content.  We tend to focus more on content than action.

The majority of the book looks at these principles and their application/relation to education.  A few other interesting aspects and ideas in the book include:

  • Chapter 11 shifts to an attack on colleges and universities, which includes many strong arguments on to what these institutions do and how they might be changed.
  • Schank states that teaching should not include the assigning of grades/marks by the teacher, and instead the assessment of performance should be done by a separate entity.
  • The idea that nothing can be learned if it doesn’t involve failure.
  • An examination or test implies that a field has a right way and a wrong way.

Does this book relate to CollegeQandA?

It’s all about teaching, learning, and universities.  In a way, I wish these were my ideas, and I’ll, likely, reference this book in future posts.

I would recommend this book to…

This book is written at a level appropriate for teachers.  I think the concepts are understandable by all, but many of the arguments drift into the world of higher ed and cognitive views that might not be at the level of college bound students.   However, I think this is a good book for everyone to take a look at to better understand learning and a bit of the why things are the way they are in education and how we might, possibly, do better.


CollegeQandA book review: Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think

Book Review: Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think

Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think book cover

Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think is written by Lakoff and presents a fascinating thesis of a cognitive science model of the conservative and liberal mind.  The point of the model is to help understand why conservatives and liberals see their worlds and then push their respective agendas.  This is done over five sections in the book, and a sixth section leaves the cognitive model and presents the authors political biases (I like how the author prepares us for this, but also presents his views).

Overall, I both liked the model and have a hard time finding any problems with the book.  I’ll leave it to you to read his thesis, because I cannot present these complex ideas in a few simple sentences, but the starting point is based on how a liberal and conservative mind conceive of government as related to family structures.  Also, the focus is on US politics, but as I look at this model related to my familiarity with Canadian and British politics, I think the application to these political domains is sound.

Does this book relate to CollegeQandA?

This relates to our discussions since understanding how one thinks as it relates to the world is as useful as understanding how we think.  We are all biased, and when it comes to our politics and thinking, we have a very small understanding of ourselves, and yet we’ll debate till our face goes blue.  The value of this book is that it illuminates what we might think is our politics and their politics, but instead gives us a model that helps make sense of the us and theirs.

I would recommend this book to…

I would recommend this book to anyone.  It’s a pretty big book with some deep concepts, but I read it quickly by not digging down into some of the subsections.  I think the main ideas will be helpful for all of us, and might make our political discussions more moderate and become of debates instead of arguments.