June, 2015

Metacognition: IDEAS

In the late ’70’s, our award-winning Lab School at Learning About Learning Educational Foundation was praised by external evaluators for being “metacognitive.” This means we had a big focus on “thinking about thinking,” especially about the unique characteristics of one’s own creative thinking. Diversity was celebrated and we were also interested in how other people and a variety of disciplines thought as well. This is the first in a series of blogs explaining what we Read More →


Have you ever heard of a “brainbow?” When scientists learned to add colors to the gray and white matter of the brain, they began to understand the structural basis for learning. The neurons of the brain are in such a dense jungle that it was hard to differentiate one neuron from another, much less trace the connections between them. Neuroscientists tell us that the patterns of connections define bits of learning. Brainbows help researchers study Read More →

The Beautiful Trash Arrangement

Some educators and educational programs identify with the “constructivist” theory—but what does that really mean? Basically, it means that children (and adults) think and learn by constructing concepts and processes rather than by simple memorization or drill. This implies an active role for the thinker/learner and suggests a facilitator role for parents and teachers. Piaget and Vygotsky were pioneers in this theory and both began by observing real children in real contexts. Piaget was most Read More →


Shapes are unified wholes or the closed outlines of wholes. We can often recognize something just by its shape; e.g., a cup, a leaf, a flower, a pinecone, a pyramid. Most of us can see and differentiate both 2D shapes like circles and 3D shapes like spheres. Some of us are good at imagining what a flattened 2D shape is like when its reassembled into a 3D shape. Our brain interprets shapes as different kinds Read More →


Our perception of lines—indeed our perception in general—is based on our life experiences.  Optical illusions, such as those where equal lines appear unequal, “trick” us because our brains cannot see and interpret what is actually out there in the world but can only make its best guesses, based on millions of past interactions with lines. Our brains tend to connect items into lines, even when the lines are not there or not totally there. . Read More →