978-0-226-19036-5 / 0226190366

The Educated Mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding

by Egan, Kieran

Publisher:University Of Chicago Press



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About the book:

Imagine the consequences if such polar opposites as Plato and Rousseau opened a school together--the results would be nothing less than schizophrenic. Yet, according to Kieran Egan, author of The Educated Mind, this is exactly the model upon which most of Western education is based. Historically, schools in the West have been chartered to perform three fundamentally contradictory tasks: to socialize children, to encourage conformity, and, at the same time, to develop individual promise. Instead of trying to pound different-shaped pegs into a one-size-fits-all hole, Egan suggests that educators take a new tack: shape learning to the way the human mind develops and understands.

Egan begins by defining five types of understanding: Somatic, Mythic, Romantic, Philosophic, and Ironic. Each kind develops at different points in a child's life and brings with it new abilities to process and integrate information. Throughout each phase, Egan is particularly concerned with the role of imagination in learning--a crucial role, in his opinion. The Educated Mind is not a textbook about methodology. Rather, it is a meditation on the way the mind grows and learns, and on how teachers--and students--might profit from these developmental stages by shaping lesson plans to fit the mind instead of the other way around.

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