University of Calgary

A better way to teach? A better way to learn?

UToday HomeApril 18, 2012

April 26; Roger Schank will speak on campus on cognitive learning.   Photo courtesy of Roger Schank Roger Schank will speak on campus on cognitive learning April 26. Photo courtesy of Roger Schank For as long as anyone can remember, the K-12 school system has focused learning on the three R’s—reading , writing, and ‘rithmetic. Throw in some history, science and computers and you’ve pretty much rounded out the curriculum. Not many people have ever thought to question why schooling is organized around academic subjects; it just seems logical. But is it?

Roger Schank doesn’t think so.

Schank believes there is another, more appropriate way to organize the classroom, and he says it involves using cognitive processes.

Schank will be on campus April 26, when he will present his thoughts on the three processes he believes are instrumental to learning: conscious, analytic, and social development. “All of these processes are part of a small child’s life as well as a high functioning adult’s life,” he explains. “Education should mean helping people get more sophisticated about doing these things through the acquisition of a case base of experience. Teaching should mean helping people think about their experiences and how to think more clearly about them.”

“Unfortunately, education and teaching rarely means either of these things in today’s world.”

Schank’s name will be familiar to many, as he is considered one of the United States’ preeminent computer scientists—perhaps, most notably, as the Director of Yale University’s Artificial Intelligence Project in the late ‘80s. Since those days, his work has evolved to include a strong focus on teaching and learning, and today, he is the executive director and founder of Engines for Education, Inc. He is also the chairman and CEO of Socratic Arts, Inc. a company that delivers story-centered curricula to schools and businesses.

Schank’s talk, “From Subject-Based Education to Cognition-Based Education: what cognitive science tells us about what we really need to learn,” will focus on how to teach these processes and how to use them as means of creating an exciting and enjoyable educational experience for students at all levels of schooling.

The talk is free and open to all. For more information and to register