Ideas > Architects of the Intellect > Feuerstien: Cognitive Modifiability

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Cognitive Modifiability

The portraits of these architects of the intellect would be incomplete without acknowledging the influence of Reuven Feuerstein (1990). This Israeli psychologist performed ground-breaking work with cognitive modifications with traumatized children of the Holocoust.

As a result of his success through mediated learning experiences (MLE) with these children, Feuerstein has transformed thinking about intelligence and human potential. His theory of cognitive modifiability refutes the concept of a static and unchanging IQ and opens the metacognitive realm of the classroom to intense examination.

Feuerstein believes the "construction of knowledge" requires a teacher's intervention to guide a student's learning. For example, witness a student deeply engaged in a cognitive task of searching for a pattern that connects a seemingly random series of dots, and listen closely to the expert intervention of the teacher/coach. "Why did you do that?" "What were you thinking just now?" "How does this remind you of another problem we did, yesterday?" "Have you a good reason for doing what you did here? Tell me about it."

Then, shift to a less intense classroom scene in which youngsters are asked to think about their teamwork upon completing a large mural depicting the Oregon Trail.

"What were you supposed to do?"
"What did you do well?"
"What might you change if you work together again?"
"Do you need any help?"

Notice how the teacher goes beyond the cognitive and into the realm of the metacognitive by getting kids to think about their thinking and learning through guided reflection. These teachers put Feuerstein°s theory into practice as they capture "teachable moments" and lead students toward deeper understandings and reflective transfer.