Abrahamson D., Dutton E. & Bakker A. (2021) Towards an enactivist mathematics pedagogy. In: Stolz S. A. (ed.) The body, embodiment, and education: An interdisciplinary approach. Routledge, London: 156–182. https://cepa.info/7085
Enactivism theorizes thinking as situated doing. Mathematical thinking, specifically, is handling imaginary objects, and learning is coming to perceive objects and reflecting on this activity. Putting theory to practice, Abrahamson’s embodied-design collaborative interdisciplinary research program has been designing and evaluating interactive tablet applications centered on motor-control tasks whose perceptual solutions then form the basis for understanding mathematical ideas (e.g., proportion). Analysis of multimodal data of students’ handand eyemovement as well as their linguistic and gestural expressions has pointed to the key role of emergent perceptual structures that form the developmental interface between motor coordination and conceptual articulation. Through timely tutorial intervention or peer interaction, these perceptual structures rise to the students’ discursive consciousness as “things” they can describe, measure, analyze, model, and symbolize with culturally accepted words, diagrams, and signs – they become mathematical entities with enactive meanings. We explain the theoretical background of enactivist mathematics pedagogy, demonstrate its technological implementation, list its principles, and then present a case study of a mathematics teacher who applied her graduate-school experiences in enactivist inquiry to create spontaneous classroom activities promoting student insight into challenging concepts. Students’ enactment of coordinated movement forms gave rise to new perceptual structures modeled as mathematical content.
Ackermann E. K. (2010) Constructivism(s): Shared roots, crossed paths, multiple legacies. In: Clayson J. & Kalas I. (eds.) Constructionist approaches to creative learning, thinking and education: Lessons for the 21st century. Proceedings of Constructionism 2010. Comenius University, Bratislava: 1–9. https://cepa.info/6082
This paper examines the shared roots and crossed paths between Jean Piaget’s constructivism, what Seymour Paper refers to as “constructionism,” and socio-cultural theories as epitomized by Lev Vygotsky. We do so in the light of more situated, pragmatic, and ecological approaches to human cognition. All these views are developmental (stressing the genesis children’s interests and abilities over time), experiential (in the sense that knowledge is rooted in sensori-motor activity) and interactionist (people are seen as constructing their knowledge by transforming the world). Yet, the views also differ, each highlighting some aspects of how children grow and learn, while leaving other questions unanswered. Piaget’s main contribution was to flesh out what is common in children’s ways of thinking at different stages of their cognitive development and, more important, how consistent, robust, and generally “adapted” their views are. The theory stresses the progressive de-contextualization of knowledge (from here-and-now to then-and-there) and identifies some of the hidden mechanisms (internal reorganizations) that drive human cognitive development. Papert, in contrast, stresses how individuals learn in context and how they use their own – and other people’s – externalizations as objects to think with, especially as their convictions break down. His approach is more situated. Papert is particularly interested the role of new media in human learning. Both Papert and Vygotsky shed light on the articulations between direct and mediated experience (from action and tool-use to enactments, language, and symbol-use). Yet Vygotsky and the Russian school have paid much closer attention to the role of caring adults and peers in a child’s initiation to her culture. They remind us that it takes a whole village to raise a child. Integrating the views helps rethink how children come to make sense of their experiences, and how they find their own places – and voices – in the world. At once world-makers, world-readers, and dwellers in the world, human infants are granted from birth with the abilities to optimize exchanges with people and things by moving in and out of contexts, by shifting perspectives, and by switching roles or standpoint. They are extraordinary learners, and much can be learned from them. Lastly, while mostly inner-driven and curious, children need caring adults, secure grounds, and engaging peers and props to thrive and grow. Tools, media, and cultural artifacts are the tangible forms through which they explore their surrounds, express their thoughts, and share the fun with others – and the traces left by those who came before (cultural heritage) become a terrain for newcomers to create their paths.
Adams F. & Aizawa K. (2009) Why the mind is still in the head. In: Robbins P. & Aydede M. (eds.) The Cambridge handbook of situated cognition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 78–95. https://cepa.info/4734
Philosophical interest in situated cognition has been focused most intensely on the claim that human cognitive processes extend from the brain into the tools humans use. As we see it, this radical hypothesis is sustained by two kinds of mistakes, confusing coupling relations with constitutive relations and an inattention to the mark of the cognitive. Here we wish to draw attention to these mistakes and show just how pervasive they are. That is, for all that the radical philosophers have said, the mind is still in the head.
Anderson M. (2003) Embodied cognition: A field guide. Artificial Intelligence 149(1): 91–130. https://cepa.info/4568
The nature of cognition is being re-considered. Instead of emphasizing formal operations on abstract symbols, the new approach foregrounds the fact that cognition is, rather, a situated activity, and suggests that thinking beings ought therefore be considered first and foremost as acting beings. The essay reviews recent work in Embodied Cognition, provides a concise guide to its principles, attitudes and goals, and identifies the physical grounding project as its central research focus.
Aparicio J. J. & Moneo M. R. (2005) Constructivism, the so-called semantic learning theories, and situated cognition versus the psychological learning theories. The Spanish Journal of Psychology 8(2): 180–198. https://cepa.info/7356
In this paper, the perspective of situated cognition, which gave rise both to the pragmatic theories and the so-called semantic theories of learning and has probably become the most representative standpoint of constructivism, is examined. We consider the claim of situated cognition to provide alternative explanations of the learning phenomenon to those of psychology and, especially, to those of the symbolic perspective, currently predominant in cognitive psychology. The level of analysis of situated cognition (i.e., global interactive systems) is considered an inappropriate approach to the problem of learning. From our analysis, it is concluded that the pragmatic theories and the so-called semantic theories of learning which originated in situated cognition can hardly be considered alternatives to the psychological learning theories, and they are unlikely to add anything of interest to the learning theory or to contribute to the improvement of our knowledge about the learning phenomenon.
This article considers W. Ross Ashby’s ideas on the nature of embodied minds, as articulated in the last five years of his career. In particular, it attempts to connect his ideas to later work by others in robotics, perception and consciousness. While it is difficult to measure his direct influence on this work, the conceptual links are deep. Moreover, Ashby provides a comprehensive view of the embodied mind, which connects these areas. It concludes that the contemporary fields of situated robotics, ecological perception, and the neural mechanisms of consciousness might all benefit from a reconsideration of Ashby’s later writings.
This article presents a unifying theory of the embodied, situated human brain called the Hierarchically Mechanistic Mind (HMM). The HMM describes the brain as a complex adaptive system that actively minimises the decay of our sensory and physical states by producing self-fulfilling action-perception cycles via dynamical interactions between hierarchically organised neurocognitive mechanisms. This theory synthesises the free-energy principle (FEP) in neuroscience with an evolutionary systems theory of psychology that explains our brains, minds, and behaviour by appealing to Tinbergen’s four questions: adaptation, phylogeny, ontogeny, and mechanism. After leveraging the FEP to formally define the HMM across different spatiotemporal scales, we conclude by exploring its implications for theorising and research in the sciences of the mind and behaviour.
Enactivism is an emerging perspective both in cognitive science and in cultural psychology. Whereas the enactive approach in general has focused on sense-making as an embodied and situated activity, enactive cultural psychology emphasizes the expressive and dynamically enacted nature of cultural meaning. This chapter first situates enactivism within a tradition of expressivist thinking that has historical roots both in radical Enlightenment thought and Romantic reactions against the rationalization of human nature. It will then offer a view of our human biology that can be reconciled with an account of meaning as irreducibly normative. By emphasizing the consensual rather than the supposedly shared nature of meaningful conduct, enactivism avoids some of the classical pitfalls in thinking about culture. In the conclusion a genetic enactive psychology will be presented, which understands sense-making not as a mediated activity, but as a competence acquired through cultural training and personal stylization.
Dynamicism has provided cognitive science with important tools to understand some aspects of “how cognitive agents work” but the issue of “what makes something cognitive” has not been sufficiently addressed yet and, we argue, the former will never be complete without the latter. Behavioristic characterizations of cognitive properties are criticized in favor of an organizational approach focused on the internal dynamic relationships that constitute cognitive systems. A definition of cognition as adaptive-autonomy in the embodied and situated neurodynamic domain is provided: the compensatory regulation of a web of stability dependencies between sensorimotor structures is created and pre served during a historical/developmental process. We highlight the functional role of emotional embodiment: internal bioregulatory processes coupled to the formation and adaptive regulation of neurodynamic autonomy. Finally, we discuss a “minimally cognitive behavior program” in evolutionary simulation modeling suggesting that much is to be learned from a complementary “minimally cognitive organization program”
Increasing evidence suggests that mundane knowledge about objects, people, and events is grounded in the brain’s modality-specific systems. The modality-specific representations that become active to represent these entities in actual experience are later used to simulate them in their absence. In particular, simulations of perception, action, and mental states often appear to underlie the representation of knowledge, making it embodied and situated. Findings that support this conclusion are briefly reviewed from cognitive psychology, social psychology, and cognitive neuroscience. A similar representational process may underlie religious knowledge. In support of this conjecture, embodied knowledge appears central to three aspects of religious experience: religious visions, religious beliefs, and religious rituals. In religious visions, the process of simulation offers a natural account of how these experiences are produced. In religious beliefs, knowledge about the body and the environment are typically central in religious frameworks, and are likely to affect the perception of daily experience. In religious rituals, embodiments appear central to conveying religious ideas metaphorically and to establishing them in memory. To the extent that religious knowledge is like non-religious knowledge, embodiment is likely to play central roles.