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ERIC Number: ED469669
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2001-Aug
Pages: 25
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Cognitive Tools of Children's Imagination.
Egan, Kieran
Examining some of the cognitive tools accompanying development of oral language in young children--tools that are somewhat suppressed with literacy development--can lead to educational principles that transcend the traditional focus on either the knowledge base or the child's mind. Of particular importance are the use of stories to give affective meaning to events, the use of binary oppositions to provide an initial grasp of phenomena, and engagement with fantasy, and the use of rhyme and rhythm. Rhythm and rhyme helped languaged people without writing to preserve their knowledge base and stimulate vivid mental images. Just as stories served as a bond for languaged people to tie themselves into complex societies, they provide young children the security of knowing how to feel about what is being learned. During young children's language development, oppositions are created from continua of size, speed, temperature, and morality. However, with discrete categories such as life/death, human/animal, and human/machine, invented mediations between these categories lead to fantasy stories and myths. The early grasp of metaphor and punning is an essential part of understanding jokes common to young childrens oral culture. Focusing on these cognitive tools of development leads to principles of children's learning: (1) children are abstract as well as concrete thinkers; (2) children's thinking is powerfully affective; (3) children readily understand content organized into story forms; (4) children are readily engaged by forming images from words; (5) children are prodigal producers and consumers of metaphors; (6) children's learning is stimulated by rhyme and rhythm; and (7) children's learning can proceed by forming binary oppositions and mediating them. These learning principles are used to construct the story form planning framework, focused on seeking the affective meaning within curricular content. An example of how this model might be used within early environmental education includes identifying the emotional importance of the individual's environmental impact and exploring binary opposite feelings about the environment. If early education focuses on the development of oral cultural cognitive tools, it will enrich the experience of being human. (Contains 17 references.) (KB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A