Directors of the School: Antonio M. Battro and Kurt W. Fischer
Directors of the Course: Sidney Strauss and Elena Pasquinelli
Program officer: María Lourdes Majdalani
Teaching is one of mankind's greatest achievements. Despite its importance, surprisingly little research and theory-building in the brain and cognitive sciences has studied it. Learning has been studied extensively, of course. But teaching has been flying below the radar.
Teaching is often understood as what happens in schools where adult teachers teach youngsters. But teaching is ubiquitous and occurs in "traditional" cultures that have no schools.
A reason teaching is of particular interest that it is one of the key processes that allow the efficient, high fidelity transfer of information among individuals. In human societies, teaching enables knowledge to accumulate leading to the elaboration of tools, technologies and customs that have underpinned our remarkable ecological success as a species, transformed human evolutionary dynamics and shaped our culture and history.
From the inception of formal human teaching, first recorded 4000 years ago in ancient Sumeria through 2400 years when no less than Socrates taught Meno’s slave boy, many leading figures have weighed in about education in general and teaching, more specifically.
Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have progressed far beyond what has been standard fare over the millennia. In part, this status quo may be due to the lack of a scientific base from which we can describe and explain teaching. At the heart of this summer school is the belief that a good place to begin our journey to establish such a base is a multidisciplinary approach to the brain and cognitive sciences, writ large. It has potential to add scope and depth to our knowledge and understanding about teaching.
We believe it is possible to harness our, until now, isolated disciplinary knowledge, to forge a more comprehensive view of the cognition of teaching than what exists to date.
We are embarking on a search to understand the cognitive machinery that stands at the core of teaching. We believe that in order to find answers to that quest, we should cast our net wide. In so doing, we will marshal knowledge from several disciplines that are central to understanding teaching: the brain and cognitive sciences, cognitive development, cultural anthropology, evolution and ethology.
Our undertaking will include all of this and more as we attempt to crack the cognitive code of teaching.