The Educated Mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding

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9780226190396: The Educated Mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding
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The Educated Mind offers a bold and revitalizing new vision for today's uncertain educational system. Kieran Egan reconceives education, taking into account how we learn. He proposes the use of particular "intellectual tools"—such as language or literacy—that shape how we make sense of the world. These mediating tools generate successive kinds of understanding: somatic, mythic, romantic, philosophical, and ironic. Egan's account concludes with practical proposals for how teaching and curriculum can be changed to reflect the way children learn.

"A carefully argued and readable book. . . . Egan proposes a radical change of approach for the whole process of education. . . . There is much in this book to interest and excite those who discuss, research or deliver education."—Ann Fullick, New Scientist

"A compelling vision for today's uncertain educational system."—Library Journal

"Almost anyone involved at any level or in any part of the education system will find this a fascinating book to read."—Dr. Richard Fox, British Journal of Educational Psychology

"A fascinating and provocative study of cultural and linguistic history, and of how various kinds of understanding that can be distinguished in that history are recapitulated in the developing minds of children."—Jonty Driver, New York Times Book Review

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The ills of education are caused, Kieran Egan argues, by the fact that we have inherited three major educational ideas, each of which is incompatible with the other two. Is the purpose of education to make good citizens and inculcate socially relevant skills and values? Or is it to master certain bodies of knowledge? Or is it the fulfillment of each student's unique potential? These conflicting goals bring about clashes at every level of the educational process, from curriculum decisions to teaching methods. Egan's analysis is cool, clear, and wholly original, and his diagnosis is as convincing as it is unexpected. Not content with a radical diagnosis, Egan presents us with a new and sophisticated alternative. Egan reconceives education as our learning to use particular "intellectual tools" - such as language or literacy - which shape how we make sense of the world. These mediating tools generate successive kinds of understanding: somatic, mythic, romantic, philosophical, and ironic. As practical as it is theoretically innovative, Egan's account concludes with practical proposals for how teaching and curriculum could be changed to reflect the ways we actually learn.

Synopsis:

The ills of education are caused, this text argues, by the fact that we have inherited three major educational ideas, each of which is incompatible with the other two. These mutual incompatibilities, it continues, bring about clashes at every level of the educational process, from curriculum decisions to teaching methods. The text presents an alternative. It concludes with practical proposals for how teaching and curriculum should be changed to reflect this new conception and fit in with how we actually learn.

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Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 1997
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