chapter  12
10 Pages


So far I have been largely concerned with early learning. It is now time to look beyond infancy. One of my particular concerns is to explore the extent to which it makes sense to say that someone becomes a more independent learner as they mature. Many claims have been made for the idea that one can ‘learn to learn’ or that it is possible to teach people general ‘thinking skills’ which they can then go on to apply in a wide range of contexts. These ideas have, arguably, two roots: first in the Rousseauian dislike of authority; second in the representational model of the mind found in cognitivism and some forms of developmentalism. One of the themes of this book has been the importance of training, taking place in a human context of affective, reactive and social behaviour, which is necessarily connected with some notion of authority. Training is important in early learning, but it continues to be important throughout childhood and into adulthood. But as people grow up, their understanding, skills and knowledge mature and they become more independent. A consequence is that independent learning becomes more possible as children are able to make use of what they already know. In this sense the growing independence of children as learners is not a particularly controversial idea.