With A Twist


We interpret the world by the scripts we have. The young ducklings knew that when Konrad Lorentz stepped into the pond and started swimming with them; he was accepted as their ‘mother’ (1) . Scripts (or schemata) make life easier, organized, and above all meaningful. Once discovered (or taught) we routine-wise like to follow them, like in the meanwhile ‘famous’ restaurant script where even minor violations in behaving according to the script immediately cause edgy reactions (panic even sometimes). Scripts are that helpful mainly because they relieve our thinking. Instead of being constantly alert and vigilant in the situations we encounter we just simply ‘read’ the script that will allow us almost in advance to know what will happen and what will be needed as a response. This comes into effect in reading and story telling as well. Listening to a story or following a story line in a book is highly governed by activated scripts (meant to be by the author or reconstructed by the reader/listener). It is comforting if a story falls into place. But, seriously, is reading, interpreting the world, behaving all living up to expectations?
What would happen if the story line deliberately develops contrary to expectations and violates the script we thought applies? This was scrutinized by a study with young children reading a story which followed a Good Mother script (nurturing and creating a safe environment from which to explore) but that gradually evolved into a Bad Mother script (the one in Cinderella). It turned out that especially in young children violation or a change in script was a highly disturbing event, even leading to a point that a child could find no reconciliation anymore which then led to distress and crying.

If our interpretations of the world are flawed it is certainly a disturbing thing but that is mainly because our thinking forsakes us. Imagine a story, a situation, a happenstance that perfectly follows script lines, it would, for an experienced person, get boring and soon be ignored. Books, story telling come to life by the twist they give to the scripts we have: not too vehemently for the inexperienced but may be more so for the knowledgeable. It is about challenging our thinking. A bit of cognitive dissonance (2) in the way we expect things to be will ignite new add-ons to our scripts and the ways in which we are thinking which, in education, ultimately means to confuse and stir up minds. It will let us know whether our expectations hold.

Einat Natalie Palkovich (2015). The ‘‘Mother’’ of All Schemas: Creating Cognitive Dissonance in Children’s Fantasy Literature Using the Mother Figure, in: Children’s Literature in Education (2015) 46:175–189
DOI 10.1007/s10583-015-9252-4

Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015


1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqZmW7uIPW4
2. http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/cognitive_dissonance.htm

One Size Fits All


School-time for life-time it was said in one of the previous blogs. But how can that be? Do not elderly people learn different from that what is asked in schools (1); is it not obvious that learning at the workplace is not school-like at all? The issue of differences in learning has been raised before: Can there be one theory of learning for all; or should we diversify? The issue has not been resolved however.
Back in the thirties, in the US Hull and Spencer, and later Hilgard disputed about a General Theory of Learning; In Europe a theory of learning was considered relevant only in as far as it supported pedagogy (Herbart, Kohnstamm, and mostly Kerschensteiner (2).
The article by Tam picks up on that long standing issue . Most of the arguments pro and con can be found here. For a distinctive way of viewing how people learn pleads the following: there are identifiable periods across the life span; changes in society call for targeted learning; not everyone experiences the same typical learning problems; and different people have different motivations.
On the other hand one could argue that: learning is a core human activity from birth to old age; in essence based on curiosity and built on experience. In all its varied forms learning is “engaging in direct encounter and then purposefully reflect upon, validate, transform, give personal meaning to and seek to integrate their ways of knowing “(cited from Mercken 2010 by Tam p. 815).
Now there lies certainly an interest in the above dispute when we embed it in the demand for Life Long Learning (3). Is “school-time for life-time” to be equated with this? I would not say so. The LLL demand is primarily one for employability and adaptation of the workforce to technological and management development (4). An alternate viewpoint is captured with the idea of “school-time for life-time” which has to do with “educating minds “ (5) and that is based in Mercken’s classification and characterization of exploring, searching, studying and valuing what matters in one’s life. And that goal fits us all.

Maureen Tam (2014) A distinctive theory of teaching and learning for older learners: why and why not?, International Journal of Lifelong Education, 33:6, 811-820,
link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02601370.2014.972998



1 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0380127860120301#.VKuVvHv-kaY
2. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13636820.2012.733514?journalCode=rjve20#.VKvQxXv-kaY
3 http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED411774
4 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13600820600929812#.VKuY9Hv-kaY
5 http://books.google.nl/books?hl=nl&lr=&id=9F8DpyHlFCEC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=egan+educated+minds&ots=gEXlbMilvO&sig=aDLPyHMd5u6H_Z-7HenlWln6kI4#v=onepage&q=egan%20educated%20minds&f=false