Descartes' Hostages: Mind and Observability in Education

Date created: 
Charles Bingham
Education: Faculty of Education
Philosophy of Mind

My purpose in this dissertation is to argue that given the relationship among the concepts of mind, knowledge, education and assessment, educators must pay more attention to our current view of mind. Educators use assessment practices, for example, to reduce complex, abstract concepts such as knowledge, understanding and mind because of a commitment to a particular view of mind. Further, to understand this relationship, mind’s primacy must be acknowledged. As there is significant debate about the idea of mind, examination of this debate must precede discussion of deep, conceptual problems in our learning theories, assessment practices and views of education. The primary concerns I will address in this dissertation, then, include:• The degree to which a particular view of mind frames the aim(s) of education, particularly framing what knowledge and understanding are and what assessment practices are best; and• That any view of mind inherits a problematic history and confused vocabularyTo address these concerns, the analysis will specifically include: • A brief historical account of mind from philosophy of mind• An examination of how metaphors of mind are used in an attempt to clarify mind• Thought experiments from philosophy of mind used as entry points to encourage new and deeper dialogue • A summary of informal discussions with teachers about views of mind, knowledge, education and assessment• An examination of the language from British Columbia, Canada’s new curriculum to more closely analyze the hold our current view of mind has on education • A discussion of the concepts of invisibility and visibility as they relate to the larger analysis of the mind-knowledge-education-assessment relationship

Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
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