Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 2 Plenary – The Future of Education

Speaker: Kieran Egan
Kieran looked at child development from new perspectives. He highlighted different ways of understanding. First, somatic understanding includes bodily senses emotional responses and attachments, built-in sense of humour, musicality and rhythm, in addition to gestures and communication. He stated that patterns are ‘arbitrary’. He also maintained that a human being is a ‘musical animal’ looking for patterns and rhythms.

Second, mythic understanding is a learning toolkit or cognitive tools that humans develop. These include storytelling, abstraction, emotion opposites and mediation, association with the heroic, romance, wonder and awe, the literate ‘eye’, matters of detail, and humanizing knowledge.

To illustrate, opposites and mediation are essential for our mythic understanding. Hot and cold are mediated by warm. Life and death are mediated by ghosts. Nature and culture are mediated by talking rabbits and bears in children’s stories.
Furthermore, there is a built-in sense of associating with the heroic in our children.  This can be explained by a pre-existing threat of the ego and their need to have transcendent ‘super human’ qualities. This toolkit of cognitive development is a main driving force in how human learn in life in general and in schools in particular.

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