chapter  11
9 Pages


The aim of this chapter is to show how attending and thinking affect the way we learn and why they are important. Thoughtfulness and attention tend to promote learning. This is more than an empirical truth, it is a conceptual point because if thoughtfulness and attention never promoted learning, our concept of learning would itself be drastically altered, having become separated in everyday life and talk from the connections that it has always enjoyed. So the statement that thoughtfulness and attention tend to promote learning is more than an obvious truth, it is a remark about the grammar of ‘learning’. Despite this, the connections between attention, thoughtfulness and learning are a relatively neglected feature of academic writing about learning. This is no accident. None of the theories of learning so far discussed is capable of dealing with the concepts of thinking and attending in a very satisfactory way. Cartesianism and cognitivism wish to construe them as internal events in the mind or brain, and, unable to give a good account in this way, tend to neglect them. Behaviourism can only accommodate them if they can be specified as particular, overt behaviours-an extremely difficult task. Developmentalism of the Piagetian variety shares the problems of cognitivism, while the romantic tradition of Rousseau and his followers cannot comprehend the social and cultural context in which thinking and attending have their life. The time is ripe, therefore, to take a fresh look at these concepts and to show their critical importance for learning. At the conclusion of the chapter, implications for more formal learning situations such as schools will be discussed.