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Season 2
Episode 3
Duration 53:02

Learning through The Extended Mind

Since this season of the podcast is all about the HOW of learning through experience, I wanted to talk to Annie Murphy Paul who basically wrote the book on learning outside the brain.

She’s the author of several books, and I love to talk with people after they have had a chance to learn through the experience of their book being out in the world. In this episode, we focus on The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain. Her book challenges the perspective that brain-bound cognition is the best way to learn.

There are so many great nuggets in this book and in this conversation with Annie. She adds quite a bit to the conversation about HOW to extend our learning capacity beyond the brain. The brain evolved for survival in a very different era to the one we live in today, and the tasks our brains evolved to solve are so different from the tasks we are expected to do now. To more fully utilize our learning potential, we can extend the mind by utilizing the body, physical spaces, relationships with other people, and material objects.

Key Topics:

00:45 Challenging our perspective regarding social and emotional learning: As children, we are encouraged to learn from and through our environment. However, we are expected to put this kind of learning aside as we get older;

07:05 The limitations of the human brain: Understanding that the brain evolved for survival in a different era is crucial to changing the education system and preparing students for the modern world;

09:58 Bringing the body into learning: Moving the body to build range and enhance our cognitive abilities;

17:34 Restoring our attentional resources: We have a finite supply of attention, we can restore this by spending time in outdoor spaces;

24:41 Designing interior spaces to support effective thinking: We can use certain objects, symbols, and signs to extend our thinking, evoke a certain version of ourselves, and direct our learning;

33:34 Extending our thinking through experiencing people: Learning again as adults how to experience people around us as an individual and as a group.

Additional Resources from Annie:

Book: The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain by Annie Murphy Paul


Linkedin: Annie Murphy Paul