Legacies of Modernity and Colonialism in Schooling
5 Social Cognition
| 105 →
Cognition is generally defined in educational discourse as the facility of the individual learner to perceive, process, and apply information in an abstract fashion. Prevailing views of intelligence privilege quick recall, rapid calculation, decontextualized knowledge, and form over content. The predominant conception of cognition is dependent on many taken-for-granted, modernist assumptions about the nature of knowledge, particularly the primacy of the individual. Countering the assumption in education that cognitive skills are universal and measurable across individuals, sociocultural and situated learning theorists define cognition instead as a function of communities, where learning is inseparable from identity development, context, and social relationships (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Scribner and Cole, 1981).
In the testing regimes that now dominate school systems globally, the primary concern is with individual differences, notions of better and worse, and making comparisons across normal groups of students. Common achievement measures and standardized tests are designed to reflect normal curves, which locate a small group of learners in an advanced category and the majority of learners in an average middle range, called basic or proficient. Educators are asked to prescribe paths to advanced proficiency and identify predictive data to describe the kinds of individuals who should achieve success. The “below basic” students who do not move as swiftly from some imagined common starting point are labeled as “at-risk” or sub-normal. Teacher and school accountability systems, like the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessments, are built on a contradictory logic that requires an...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.