Posts tagged ‘cognition’

January 20, 2014

Writing and Cognition

We no longer write by hand. Technology replaced this intimate ritual of literally putting our thoughts to paper with a completely different mechanism. Why should we bother teaching children to write by hand when we have digital tools that can make writing such an easy, flowing process?

Well, we still should. And I am not saying that because I am a “traditional” teacher or a Luddite living in the 21st century with inescapable nostalgic flashbacks going through her mind. We should because it matters to learning. And cognitive science and neurophysiology have proved the importance of handwriting in cognition during childhood.

The neurophysiology of writing

Writing has been described mostly as a mental process and little attention has been paid to the physicality of writing and its impact on memory, attention and learning.  Anne Mangen, associate professor at the University of Stavanger,  and neurophysiologist Jean-Luc Velay (University of Marseille) have shed light into this aspect of writing in their study (Digitzing Literacy –  reflections on the haptics of writing, 2010).

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January 5, 2014

Critical Thinking or Opening Pandora’s Box

Critical thinker. Alongside “creative”, it seems to be the ultimate compliment one can receive nowadays with so many other buzzwords invading social media (“leadership, “innovative”, “disrupting” and the sorts).

Let us then dig deeper into this concept to clarify what it means and how it can be applied in the field of education.

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        First, we are not *that*revolutionary in promoting the concept. Actually, we owe much to a quite charismatic and brave Athenian who lived about 2,500 years ago.  Socrates, considered the father of the Western thought and philosophy, taught us what it means to question the world, the words and the relationship between them (see Socratic Questioning techniques). Each century on had its critical thinkers whose work contributed to our understanding of the importance of thinking critically – from Erasmus, Moore, Francis Bacon (The Advancement of Learning), Descartes (Rules for the Direction of the Mind) to Hobbes, Voltaire, Diderot, Kant (Critique of Pure Reason), Comte, Spencer, Graham Sumner and Ludwig Wittgenstein, we learned that critical thought “is our only guarantee against delusion, deception, superstition, and misapprehension of ourselves and our earthly circumstances” and that “education in the critical faculty is the only education which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens.” (W. G. Sumner, Folkways, p.633).

Conclusion: When we claim to be the first promoters of “critical thinking” (for 21st century, rolling eyes now) we are wrong, ignorant or arrogant. Take your pick. 

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