The Educated Mind


The Educated Mind

"The Educated Mind : How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding" is a 1997 book on educational theory by Kieran Egan.

Main arguments

Criticism of previous education theories

Egan argues that the whole of educational theorizing pivots around three basic ideas of what the aim of education should be:

# the need to educate an elite of the population in subjects that are important academically. (Plato). Here we also find the ideas: reason and knowledge can provide a privileged access to the world; knowledge drives the student mind development; education is an epistemological process.
# the right for every individual to pursue their own educational curriculum through self-discovery (Rousseau). Here we also find the ideas: the student development drives knowledge; education is a psychological process.
# Socialize the child - homogenize children and ensure that they can fulfill a useful role in society, according to its nation values and beliefs.

Egan argues in chapter one that, "these three ideas are mutually incompatible, and this is the primary cause of our long-continuing educational crisis"cite book|author=Kieran Egan |title=The educated mind (introduction)|location=Chicago | publisher=University of Chicago Press |year=1997 |id=ISBN 0-226-19036-6|url=http://www.educ.sfu.ca/kegan/EdMindIntro.html] ; the present educational program in much of the West attempts to integrate all three of these incompatible ideas, resulting in a failure to effectively achieve any of the threeD. James MacNeil, review of "The educated mind", for the 21st Century Learning Initiative, September 1998] .

Following the natural mind development

Egan's proposed solution to the education problem which he identifies is to: let learning follow the natural way the human mind develops and understands. According to Egan, individuals proceed through five kinds of understanding:
# Somatic - before language acquisition) the physical abilities of one's own body are discovered; somatic understanding includes the communicating activity that precedes the development of language; as the child grows and learns language, this kind of understanding survives in the way children "model their overall social structure in play".
# Mythic - concepts are introduced in terms of simple opposite (e.g. Tall/Short or Hot/Cold). Mythic understanding also includes comprehending the world in stories.
# Romantic - the practical, realistic limits of the mythic concepts are discovered. Egan equates this stage with the desire to discover examples of superlatives (e.g. 'What is the tallest/shortest a person can be?') and to the accumulating of extensive knowledge on particular subjects (e.g. stamp collecting). So this kind of understanding includes "associations with the transcendent qualities of heroes, fascination with the extremes of experience and the limits of reality, and pervasive wonder".
# Philosophic - the discovery of principles which underly patterns and limits found in romantic data; we order knowledge into coherent general schemes.
# Ironic - it involves the "mental flexibility to recognize how inadequately flexible are our minds, and the languages we use, to the world we try to represent in them"; it therefore includes the ability to consider alternative philosophic explanations.

"Drawing from an extensive study of cultural history and evolutionary history and the field of cognitive psychology and anthropology, Egan gives a detailed account of how these various forms of understanding have been created and distinguished in our cultural history".Theodora Polito, " [http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bpl/epat/2005/00000037/00000004/art00003 Educational Theory as Theory of Culture: A Vichian perspective on the educational theories of John Dewey and Kieran Egan] " Educational Philosophy and Theory, Vol. 37, No. 4, 2005]

Each stage includes a set of "cognitive tools", as Egan calls them, that enrich our understaning of reality. Egan argues that recapitulating this stages is necessary to overcoming the contradictions between the Platonic, Rousseauian and socialising goals of education.

Egan resists the suggestion that religious understanding could be a further last stage, arguing instead that religious explanations are examples of philosophic understanding.

Connections with other authors

Egan main influences come from the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky. The idea of applying theory of recapitulation to education came from 19th century philosopher Herbert Spencer, although Egan uses it in a very different way. Egan also uses educational ideas from William Wordsworth and expresses regret that Wordworth's ideas, because they were expressed in poetry, are rarely considered today.

"(some contentious (NPOV) text moved to Talk page)"

It is possible to draw parallels with Piaget's stages of development; 'somatic' is a combination of the Sensorimotor stage and the Preoperational stage. 'Mythic' is the Concrete operational stage and 'Philosophic' and 'Ironic' are elaborations of the Formal Operational stageFact|date=February 2007. Dubious|date=March 2008

In popular culture

The same year the essay was published (1997), Italian comedian-satirist Daniele Luttazzi used Egan ideas for his character "Prof. Fontecedro" in the popular TV show "Mai dire gol", aired on Italia 1. Fontecedro was satirizing the inadequacies of Italian school system, and the reforms proposed by Luigi Berlinguer, 1996-2000 Ministry of Education of Italy. Fontecedro' sketches brought Kieran' theory to extreme levels with surreal humor. The jokes were later published in the book "Cosmico!" (1998, Mondadori, ISBN 88-04-46479-8), where the 5 stages mind development is also cited at pp. 45-47.

References

previous works on ironic knowledge:
*Bogel, Fredric V. "Irony, Inference, and Critical Understanding." Yale Review 69 (1980): 503-19.

Editions

*cite book|author=Kieran Egan |title=The educated mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding|location=Chicago | publisher=University of Chicago Press |year=1997 |id=ISBN 0-226-19036-6

ee also

*Merlin Donald

External links

* [http://www.educ.sfu.ca/kegan/EdMind.html Book dedicated section] in Egan official website
*" [http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/EPS/PES-yearbook/1998/egan.html#fn18 Conceptions of Development in Education] ", Egan's essay that explain the main ideas of the book
*From the Imaginative Education Research Group: [http://www.ierg.net/about/briefguide.html A brief guide to imaginative education] , [http://www.ierg.net/about/cog_thoughts.html Some thoughts on "Cognitive tools"] , [http://www.ierg.net/about/cog_myth.html Cognitive tools that come along with oral language] , [http://www.ierg.net/about/cog_lit.html Cognitive tools that come along with literacy] , [http://www.ierg.net/about/cog_theory.html Cognitive tools that come along with theoretic thinking]
* [http://books.google.it/books?vid=ISBN0226190390 Excerpts] from google books
* [http://www.kentupper.com/resources/Entheogens+$26+Education--JDEA+2003.pdf Using entheogens as cognitive tools to foster Somatic and Mythic types of understanding]

Reviews
* [http://reader2.com/forestfortrees/author:Egan,Kieran reader2.com]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The Age of Reason — The Age of Reason: Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology , a deistic treatise written by eighteenth century British radical and American revolutionary Thomas Paine, critiques institutionalized religion and challenges the inerrancy… …   Wikipedia

  • The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex —   …   Wikipedia

  • The Story of Civilization —   Author(s) Will Durant Ariel Durant …   Wikipedia

  • The Nation (Irish newspaper) — The Nation was an Irish nationalist weekly newspaper, published in the 19th century. The Nation was printed first at 12 Trinity Street, Dublin, on 15 October 1842, until 6 January 1844. The paper was afterwards published at 4 D Olier Street from… …   Wikipedia

  • The Reformation —     The Reformation     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► The Reformation     The usual term for the religious movement which made its appearance in Western Europe in the sixteenth century, and which, while ostensibly aiming at an internal renewal of the …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • The Toyota Way — The 14 Principles of the Toyota Way is a management philosophy used by the Toyota corporation that includes the Toyota Production System. The main ideas are to base management decisions on a philosophical sense of purpose , to think long term, to …   Wikipedia

  • The Coquette —   …   Wikipedia

  • The Littlest Hobo — The First Season DVD cover Genre Family Children s Melodrama …   Wikipedia

  • The Idler (1758–1760) — This article is about the 18th century series of essays. For other publications called The Idler, see The Idler (disambiguation). The Idler was a series of 103 essays, all but twelve of them by Samuel Johnson, published in the London weekly the… …   Wikipedia

  • The Clouds — This article is about the play by Aristophanes. For other uses, see Cloud (disambiguation). The Clouds Strepsiades, his son and Socrates (from a 16th Century engraving). The Dramatis Personae in ancient comedy depends on interpretation of textual …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.