Cognitive Science

Roger Schank, a former Stanford and Yale University professor, wrote a book called Teaching Minds, published in 2016. He makes the argument that cognitive science has its place in the teaching world and if we utilize the cognitive sciences carefully, we can change the way our students approach and digest learning.  Check out his website for a very brief description of the cognitive sciences: . Read through some of his thinking:  Think about whether what you teach addresses some of these processes. Do we actually help kids learn how to predict, diagnose, and influence or do we tell them what we think we need to know? If you teaching to the state standards, you might be teaching subject matter than in no way applies
to what the kids really care about. 

Conceptual Processes

  • Prediction
  • Modeling
  • Experimentation
  • Evaluation

Analytic Processes

  • Diagnosis
  • Planning
  • Causing
  • Judgment

Social Processes

  • Influence
  • Teamwork
  • Negotiation
  • Describing

Are you doing any of the following practices? Please reference Roger Schank’s book: Teaching Minds for further elaboration, chapter 13. Schank’s list debunks current teaching methods and practices that have dominated our educational system since the 1800’s. My commentary is included…
#1 Assuming that there is some kind of learning other than doing (such as telling the students what they need to know and expecting them to remember the information or regurgitate it).
#2 Believing that a teacher’s job is assessment.
#3 Thinking there is something that everyone must know in order to proceed (prior knowledge that we generate for students.
#4 Thinking that students are not worried about the purpose of what they are being taught.
#5 Thinking that studying can replace repeated practice as a key learning technique (deliberate practice and expert performance are related).
#6 Thinking that because students have chosen to take your class, they have an interest in learning what you plan to teach them.
#7 Correcting a student who is doing something by telling him what to do instead (remember, that learning is messy!)
#8 Thinking that a student remember what you just taught him (who is asking the questions here, you or the student? now ask yourself….who owns the learning in this situation?)

Schank, R. (2011). Teaching minds: How cognitive science can save our schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.