When today’s learning scientists talk about the mind, it sometimes seems as if they are talking about video games.
… people learn best from their experiences when they get immediate feedback during those experiences so that they can recognize and assess their errors and see where their expectations have failed.
… learners need ample opportunities to apply their previous experiences—as interpreted—to similar new situations, so they can “debug” and improve their interpretations of these experiences, gradually generalizing them beyond specific contexts.
Modern learning theory tends to stress the social and cultural more than …
the elements of good learning experiences—namely goals, interpretations, practice, explanations, debriefing, and feedback—have to come from someplace.
In fact, they usually flow from participation in, or apprenticeship to, a social group, or what are sometimes called “communities of practice” or affiliation groups.
For instance, I am a bird-watcher and I have lots of experience looking for birds. But my experiences in this domain have been greatly shaped by other people and institutions devoted to birds and bird watching.
What we might call a “social identity” is crucial for learning.
content—knowledge—in a domain like science or art is much less connected to identities, goals, and values. However, ethnographic accounts of scientists learning and doing science, for instance, show this is not true. And,…
8. John S. Brown, Allan Collins, and Paul Duguid, Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning,
Educational Researcher 18 (1989): 32–42; Gee, Situated Language and Learning; Edward Hutchins, Cognition
in the Wild (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1995); Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, Situated Learning:
Legitimate Peripheral Participation (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991); and Michael Tomasello,
The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).
9. Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press, 1998); and Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott, and William M. Snyder, Cultivating
Communities of Practice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2002).
10. Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us; idem., Situated Language and Learning.
Gee, James Paul. “Learning and Games.”