Carl Bereiter (2002). Education and Mind in the Knowledge Age

Annotated by Ben Wilbrink

Carl Bereiter (2002a). Education and Mind in the Knowledge Age. Erlbaum. questia

This is an important book for designers of education, in particular also for designers of achievement test items. See Bereiter (2002b) on design research. The issues:

p. ix: Here we are in the Information Age, relying on a theory of mind that is older than the wheel.
p. ix: The trouble with this story is that for most purposes the effect of cognitive science has not been to replace folk theory but to reinstate it, after its exile by behaviorism.
p. x: What is being challenged is the basic conception of the mind as a container of objects—beliefs, desires, conjectures, remembered events, and the like—that the mind works on in cognition.
p. x: Folk theory of mind lives on, I believe, because it has never been put to severe tests.
p. x: Better to say we need a new way of thinking about knowledge and the mind.
p. x: What I have been calling, following a common usage, "folk theory of mind" is not actually a theory. It is just a way that we commonly think about knowledge and mentation. (...) (p. xii:) a conception that treats knowledge as stuff in people's minds and learning as a process that produces it there.
p. xii. Knowledge is the pivotal idea in this book. p. 4: The argument I develop throughout this book is that education's conceptual tools are woefully inadequate. (...) Better tools are coming available, but it takes conceptual tools to understand and use them. The most basic of tools are our conceptions of knowledge and mind. That, I argue, is where change has to start if education is to become unstuck.

3. Knowledge outside the mind

The naive idea is that basically we live simultaneously in two different worlds: the physical one, and our own mental one. This leaves our cultural heritage dangling somewhere nowhere. Popper is one of the philosophers tackling the problem by positing a third world, the world of our cultural heritage, of scientific theories, etcetera.

Assessment in education in the naive conception is the almost impossible task to assess what students think of the physical world. That looks like a mission impossible: in what world is the assessment, or the assessor, living? It is quite evident that Bereiter (Popper) has a point here: there is a need for the somewhat strange concept of world three, the world of the models science holds on the physical world, the kind of stuff we'd like to teach in education, isn't it? Well, let's see what the exposition by Bereiter tells us about the game of assessing students.


Carl Bereiter (2002b). Design research for sustained innovation. Cognitive Studies, Bulletin of the Japanese Cognitive Science Society, 9, 321-327. pdf

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