15 January 2009

School As Extended Mind

This post at Mind Hacks about the extended mind idea has me thinking about what it means for schools if we accept the premise. When we put children into a new classroom every year then we effectively wipe out their ability to externalize their mind. We cut them off from the possibility of school enabling them to maximize the benefits of externalizing. They know that whatever investment they make in utilizing this year's classroom as a medium for extending their personal capabilities, it will be wiped out at the end of the year.

That's not good.

1 comment:

Don Berg said...

Original Post:
Exploring the extended mind

The Philosopher’s Magazine has an interesting interview with David Chalmers on the extended mind hypothesis – the idea that the mind exists not only in ourselves but is extended out to the technology we use.

However, the technology does not have to be computers and digital technology, something as simply as a notebook is enough:

"The central example in our original paper was an Alzheimers patient. We called him Otto. Like a lot of Alzheimers patients, to get around, he uses external tools to manage his life. In particular, he carries a notebook around everywhere with relevant information and consults it whenever he needs it. So, when a normal person thinks, ‘I want to go to the museum,’ they recall, ‘OK, the museum is on 53rd Street’ and off they go. When Otto wants to go to the museum, he looks it up in his notebook, reads the museum is on 53rd Street and off he goes.

"We argue this is part of his memory all along. We would say that even before the ordinary person recalled the information, they believed the museum was on 53rd Street. Why? Because that stuff was there in their memory, available, so to speak, for them. Exactly the same is true of Otto: that information was there in his memory, in the notebook, available for him there when he wants it. So we argue even before he read the information from the notebook, he believed that the museum was on 53rd Street."

It’s interesting to note that language, is, of course, a technology, despite the fact we tend to think of it as something largely internal.

Chalmers also goes on to discuss the limitations of the theory and discusses what the idea implies for our concepts of the mind as they relate to the brain and the material world.

Link to Philosopher’s Magazine interview ‘A Piece of iMe’.
Link to original Clark and Chalmers extended mind paper.