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Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools Paperback – October 28, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

''[Schank] rejects many 'truths' held by today's educators and politicians...the author believes society is better served when the focus is on improving the conceptual, analytical, and social processes of the individual rather than on acquiring factual knowledge.'' --ForeWord Magazine

''With stark honesty and a sharp focus on research, Schank has written a provocative, convincing, and useful book about the design of cognitively based learning experiences that can be applied to real contexts...Teaching Minds can undoubtedly help individual teachers, professors, leaders, and curriculum design teams to transform learning experiences for students at all levels.'' --Education Canada

''With stark honesty and a sharp focus on research, Schank has written a provocative, convincing, and useful book about the design of cognitively based learning experiences that can be applied to real contexts...Teaching Minds can undoubtedly help individual teachers, professors, leaders, and curriculum design teams to transform learning experiences for students at all levels.'' --Education Canada

About the Author

Roger Schank was the founder of the renowned Institute for the Learning Sciences at Northwestern University, where he is John P. Evans Professor Emeritus in Computer Science, Education, and Psychology.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Teachers College Press (October 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807752665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807752661
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #865,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I taught a few community college classes, volunteered in grade school classrooms for a few years, and have been teaching my own children for two years. What drags heaviest in these endeavors? Resistance.

Students want to get it over, move on, and get out. No matter how much I wanted them to love what I told them to do, only a few responded happily--and only rarely. They may have been people-pleasers; they may have genuinely liked the work or been grateful to get away from home.

I found Schank through articles in The Washington Post: "No, algebra isn't necessary--and yes, STEM is overrated" and "Why kids hate school--subject by subject".

Student resistance is to be expected, he says. You cannot teach someone something that 1. Does not help achieve some goal they actually hold; 2. Is not in line with their personality; 3. Goes against their subconscious beliefs. You can try. You won't succeed.

He goes on to list the CAPACITIES students should have, like how to diagnose, how to plan, how to influence, how to negotiate, etc.These skills come layered into the goals people naturally set for themselves as a means of getting something they want. They come from doing, trying, and failing. A car fanatic learns to diagnose engines. A parent learns to diagnose a child's quirks and cries. A gamer diagnoses how to advance levels.

Several capacities go along with any situation. Schank says that forcing people to learn subjects separate from each other ("Now let's learn to PLAN!") and devoid of a personal goal is a waste and ineffective.
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I am a big fan of Roger's work and frequently visit his websites for ideas and inspiration, so I was eager to read his new book. I was not disappointed! He provides some fascinating insights into the inner workings of the country's Kindergarten throught PhD education system. He has a novel understanding of how people think and learn and advocates creating an education system that is designed to focus on building cognitives skills and processes instead of focusing on the traditional academic content disciplines. As you read the book, you find yourself agreeing with many of his assertions and becoming angry at the entrenched system that blocks all attempts to allow his ideas to be implemented. Roger's fundamental approach to teaching and learning is through what he calls a Story Centered Curriculum. He follows his own advice by delivering most of the information in the book in a series of stories. The result is a very readable, enjoyable, and informative book. You should read it!
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Format: Paperback
I'll be frank. I found this book obnoxious. Dr. Schank obviously considers himself quite the pioneer in raising questions about how students learn, "I made up the term learning sciences. There was no such field in academia." (p. xiv) "Cognitive science, a field I also had a big part in creating, has become more important in the academic world." (p. xv) However, his observations about the outdated, irrelevant, and ineffective way we educate the public are the exact same things the unschoolers, the homeschoolers, and the many sects of the education reform movement have been screaming since the 60s. Similarly, using anecdotal evidence and strawman arguments, he does come to conclusions that are supported by actual science (for example, that there are benefits to learning by doing as opposed to by lecture-only, or that e-learning has certain benefits, or that curriculum should be more relevant), but he doesn't use science to support these ideas; it's just coincidence. Other parts of the book are just bizarre. We're supposed to keep compulsory education, but we're not supposed to have any accountability for what schools do or don't teach. Instead, teachers are going to mentor kids with the help of technology. Why teachers would make better life mentors than welders or insurance salesmen isn't explained. Why we should learn to think in the real world by attending school as opposed to interacting more in the real world isn't explained either. He dismisses the idea that the purpose of school is to provide a basic foundation for future learning and thinking, but then takes for granted that school must continue to play an integral part in the upbringing of America's children. He has a whole section on intellectual thinking with examples that any 7th grader could dissect as being illogical.Read more ›
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A must reading for all educators interested in why most students in our schools remain bored and academically disengaged. I am certain that some educators reading this book will be unhappy with the author's relentless criticism of school leaders, who accept our currently outdated approach to curriculum and instruction and for that matter schooling as the norm. Our accepted fact based, just in case curriculum, serves no function in a career world less concerned with what you know then how you think.
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I read education books for a living, to inform my own work and thinking, and I have to say, few books in the last 10 years have influenced my thinking as much as this book. It's a must read for anyone sincerely interested in a different, more relevant vision for learning for our kids. We have become a test centric nation that is motivated by old beliefs and paradigms that need, that must change. If you are a parent or anyone interested in education and preparing our kids for a much different future, please read this book.
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