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The Art of Learning How to Think: A Commentary Essay

Knowledge and the pursuit of it is perhaps one of the characteristics of being human. It appears unquenchable, fulfilling, but for some, at times unattainable. The contribution of education or academics to the whole scheme of relationships and work depends largely on the significant acquisition of information and most especially wisdom. Though many make use of information or knowledge via the informal path, it is inevitable that proper or formal treatment is deemed the ideal way (Hurlock 1963; Piaget 1963). ~ The meaning of the text: does it have a shared social meaning, based on the gender/ class/ age of the audience?

The article (Swain 2009) indulges the reader with the richness of his piece as she elucidates her audience on the very rationale of what knowledge means. This commentary will attempt to explain whether the time spent in developing minds to correctly interpret and respond to situations makes the difference between this department and the Psychology department (too! ). Indeed, the author is timely in her discussion about the theme of her article. It is actually a very effective way to persuade her audience that there are no shortcuts to real wisdom or knowledge except through mining the every available opportunity, experience and material.

It appeals to university level students who are spending significant amount of time to wade through sophisticated and highly technical textbooks and the like. In essence, what the instructor reinforces include a very crucial aspect to learning and that is attitude towards academics in general, and in specific subjects where the meat of the learning is fleshed out. It can even go to great lengths as claiming that within the halls of an academic institution lay the voices of freedom and the privilege of being equals with people in the same age range.

Perhaps no better equalizer of humanity other than death is the amount and skill gained through formal education (Hilgard 1983). ~ Does it have a particular meaning for you as a reader that may not necessarily be shared by the rest of the possible audience? Though a portion of the population of students may actually like the idea of being careful and intentional when it comes to the storage and retrieval of information, the bulk of those in their ranks may actually find themselves dry and tired ad come to the point of detesting everything that academics would stand for.

The style of the text: does it display any particular stylistic features, such as irony, paradox? ~ Does it use figurative language, e. g. metaphors, similes or other figures of speech? Why are these in your opinion necessary? The author to be effective a messenger or medium utilizes a form of communication that adequately extracts something from the abstract to convey to his audience a clear and concrete illustration the importance of developing a keen mind and making “thinking” a way of life.

As mentioned the rich picture images are apt to grab the attention and the practicality of the suggestions actually sustains the thoughts and attention of the reader. ~Does the text display any particular point of view? Would the sense of the passage change if the point of view was varied? Indeed, the author stays on her theme and in the confines of the brevity of her treatise attempts from start to finish to show that what the university intends to accomplish is to produce people who do not have minds only stuffed with every kind of data.

It reveals that the readers are enjoined to have the information be scrutinized and “digested’ for these available data to effect. Though the author succinctly captured a very important argument, there are issues however, that are not to be taken for granted within the paper. Thus, even his particular manner of treating his subject or topic is carefully thought of and planned out. Any changes to incorporate a different kind of view would be tolerably fine but these would diminish the more preferred way which the author is using in the text.

The skill of the incorporation of the technical aspects of writing, his deliberate manner of injecting a point or two at some particular portions of the paper, and the choice of words are all part of a writer’s honest to goodness hard work that crafting a piece with precision and effective results. ~What paper does the text come from? Is it a broadsheet or tabloid? What features distinguish the category it belongs to? What would have change, had it been written for a different category of newspaper?

Closer to a tabloid, Swain poses her arguments in this particular context as the audience come from a specific group. It seeks to describe the options a university student possesses to enhance his or her academic standing and the rationale behind such striving. The paper by Swain (2009) unwittingly succeeds because of its simplicity and directness. When she addressed what many students are actually missing these days as they are part of the millions of the iPod generation: thinking as a skill and can be developed is a thing rarely would someone to bother at all to truly cultivated.

If it is meant to be a part of an editorial, since it has its own share of followers, the author is correct to impose that kids must be convinced that what they share in school comes from the mind who shows evidence for diligence, wit as well as grace. It means that thinking is a non-negotiable entity for a sound judgment, when being torn between two or more varied options as well as even when under physical or emotional threat. Learning pervades people’s lives.

It is involved not only in mastering a new skill or academic subject but also in emotional development, social interaction, and even personality development. People learn what they fear, what to love, how to be polite, hoe to be intimate, and so on. Given the pervasiveness of learning in lives of people, it is not surprising that there have been instances of it – how, for example, children to perceive the world around them, to identify with their own sex, and to control their behavior according to adult standards (Atkinson et al 1993).

However, there is a more systematic analysis of learning. Learning may be defined as a relatively permanent change in behavior that results from practice; behavior change that are due to maturation (rather than practice)or temporary conditions of the organism (such as fatigue or drug-induced states) are not included. All cases of learning are not the same though. The cognitive perspective points to humans as possessing the capacity to think, process and have options from which they will be choosing their directions in life.

In similar vein, humanistic psychology explains various human acts as emanating from his exercise of free will at the same striving towards the achievement of his potential. Although various perspectives have their faults and strengths, the experiment done in 1971 in Stanford will confirm whichever direction (Halonen & Santrock, 1996). John Searle’s book (Minds, Brains and Science) is an effort to understand the human frame. It endeavored to understand the composition of the human brain through a philosophic point of view.

For John Searle, all of the things which happen inside the human brain are caused by nothing less than mere neurobiological course of action. Well, this line of thinking seems to suggest that all that there is in human person is nothing more and nothing less but a working of a machine. Human thoughts and imaginations, as well as the dictates of conscience are just products of the operations of the physical material which is referred to commonly as the body.

The activities of the brain, in John Searle’s observation, could only be reduced to four characteristics: awareness (i. . “consciousness” in Searle’s terminology), projection of things (intentionality), sort through things (subjectivity), and the ability of the human brain to function (mental causation). These categories of the brain’s functions are observed purely through the physical substance of the human being. Although Searle’s method of understanding the human mind is classical science, it nevertheless falls on several issues. If his scientific theory will be allowed to stand, Artificial Intelligence will stand. Indeed, the human brain is very much like the hard drive of a computer.

As neurons in the human body, particularly in the brain, are healthily transmitting necessary and balanced chemicals, the mind will be healthy as it is the natural product of a brain which is in good physical shape. What is observed and seen on the outside/surface are complete manifestations of what lies underneath, which, according to John Searle are the “micro-elements” that compose the actual appearance of anything (Searle 1984). The theory of cause and effect has had its influence on Searle’s understanding of the human mind. For example, water is simultaneously composed of oxygen and hydrogen. To the naked eye, water is just water.

It is named “water. ” But if someone – a chemist perhaps – would analyze or sort through the composition of water, its true compositional elements would surface. As a scientist/philosopher, and one that is faithful to his profession, Searle simplified or reduced to mere “physical” the properties of the human being. Mental activities, or what takes place in the brain (which is referred to often as “mind”) is realized there only as a result (caused) of the workings of neurons or the transmission of them to the brain. John Searle used an illustration, an experiment of thought; it was the analogy of Chinese Room.

What he tries to deduce from this illustration is the fact (according to him) that the healthy human brain is made up of right properties which in turn produces consciousness, projection of things (intentionality), subjectivity (able to sort through things), and mental causation (the ability of the human brain to function). The difference of the human brain from the computer is that the brain can intend or plan or cause things to happen, while computers, on the other hand, are syntactically and semantically programmed. And so, for Searle, the brain is still far too different from a computer machine.

The computer can only be used as a metaphor to describe the workings of the brain. The brain, unlike the computer machine, is a human organ. Part II. Annotated Bibliography ~Berger, K. S. (1994). The developing person through the life-span. (3rd ed). Worth. For an intellectual Fowler’s framework could be the next “big thing” in terms of serious theoretical positions on the formation of morality and moral reasoning and the substance of faith. In a human perspective, Fowler successfully attempted to provide a picture that illustrates and guides both the individual being studied and the observer/scientist via the stages (Berger, 1994).

Though these stages are not as explicitly applicable to all persons, like other psychologists such as Erikson and Maslow, Fowler’s important contribution apparently is more than expansion of Kohlberg or Piaget. His own personal journey, lengthy and in-depth research has given him a solid premise to work on (Berger, 1994). ~Bernstein, D. A. , E. J. Roy, T. K. Srull, and C. D. Wickens, 1991. Psychology. New Jersey: Houghton Mifflin Company. Learning is defined by Craig et al. , as a process through which one’s capacity or disposition is changed as a result of experience.

Whitaker (1972) defines it also as the process by which behavior originates or is altered through experience, while Wittig (in Bernstein et al. , 1991) and Hilgard (1975) view it as behavior that occurs as a result of experience. Apparently while learning can be defined as a process and as a product, more definitions stress learning more as a process. This idea suggests that it is not the product but the process that is important since the products of learning both what one is capable of and what one is predisposed to.

Changes resulting from development and experience are emphasized; changes resulting from maturation such as growing older, innate tendencies like reflexes and conditions caused by fatigue, drugs, and diseases are strictly not considered as learned behavior. ~Searle, John. 1984. Mind, Brains, and Science. Published By: Harvard University Press. This author discusses how people may physically perceive their surroundings. In some ways, individuals misinterpret many workings outside of themselves. individuals even misunderstand ourselves most of the times. That’s why there is a need to consult doctors or experts in many fields.

At times, and it is not rare, there are unimaginable mistakes committed by these so-called experts. These are proofs enough to make people consider outside source to help them sort through the human mind – outside of themselves and bigger than their own perception of the world. To use the computer machine analogy, there indeed is a need on the One who created humans to intervene as he wrote the manual, so to speak. Anyway, this is just hypothetical suggestion along with many other hypothetical theories – including John Searle’s Mind, Brains, and Science (1984).


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