Cognitive tools are…

“…cognitive tools are the things that enable our brains to do cultural work. Our brains, like [-p.41] those of any animal, are responsible for controlling an array of physiological and social work. But we have also amassed that external symbolic material that constitutes our culture. As we learn features of our cultural inheritance, the brain is provided with the tools that enable it to realize various of its capacities. Alone, no one learns to speak, to read and write, or to think with theoretic abstractions. These potentials of human brains are actualized only by the brain learning, and learning to use, particular pieces from our cultural storehouse. Culture, as it were, programs the brain. It is simplistic to push the analogy of brain as computer and culture as operating systems and programs, but the analogy is helpful in so far as it locates a significant part of our minds in that cultural material.” (pp.40-41)

“The main cultural work that cognitive tools enable our brains to perform is understanding. Seeing education as a process of maximizing our cognitive tool kit, then, is to see it as a process of enlarging our understanding as far as possible given the tools our culture has developed.” (p.43)

Ref: (emphases in blue bold, mine) Kieran Egan (2008) The Future of Education: Reimagining Our Schools from the Ground Up. Yale University Press: New Haven and London


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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