Readings about the unconscious mind and implicit learning

I am excited that we are discussing a topic I fell in love with on my sabbatical – the role of the unconscious mind in learning – in our new class on conceptual change. In order to begin to investigate this topic we are reading (1) the cover story from the January 2014 issue of Scientific American on the Unconscious Mind, (2) chapters 1 and 2 from Daniel Kahneman’s 2011 book “Thinking Fast and Slow”, and (2) chapter 3 from Daniel Goleman’s 2013 book “Focus.”

To start our discussion I am interested in any questions the readings may prompt.

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2 thoughts on “Readings about the unconscious mind and implicit learning

  1. The readings for this week made an excellent introduction to the scientific developments in the area of neuroscience and provided a good overview of System 1 and System 2 mechanisms. It would be interesting to discuss in class (and online) how learning (maybe start with an individual learning) process can be explained using interaction of System 1 and System 2. Should one (especially the novice) approach conceptual learning task as an athlete, practicing different aspects of the concept through numerous problem solving for a long time before really getting it? Should more emphasis be placed on automating certain tasks before getting to more complex and abstract principles? What is the role of reflection in the process of learning?

  2. I particularly liked the discussion about how we adapt or transform to meet not only the expectations of those we associate with but in different situations. It made me wonder if we consciously exert any kind of control over our thoughts or if our system 1 and 2 responses are automatic for want of a better term. Meaning, is it through brain impulse or automatic reaction that we assess our situations and behave in a manner appropriate? When we think of learning in engineering environments, there is a unwritten rule that engineers are good problem solvers hence classes are structured in such a manner to play on these traits and students adjust themselves accordingly to do what is expected of them. Is this natural or a developed habit that became so ingrained in system 1 it is almost second nature?

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