What can Socrates teach us about cognitive science? (Pt. 3)

– And how is Deadpool involved?!

If you want the historical and philosophical backing for this post, check out part 1 here!

If you want the conversation with Meno’s slave boy, and Socrates’ prophetic coverage of cognitive scientific principles – check out part 2 here!

What I did not realise until recently was that Socrates was also a Successive Relearning (SR) fan!

Modern backing for the principles we see in the Myth of Meno

What we see in abundance in Socrates’ Myth of Meno, is the Socrates’ use of Successive Relearning – a cognitive scientific principle that shows a great deal of promise to the educational world.

Not only this, but each time Socrates drills the new information with Meno’s boy, he gives corrective feedback before giving the boy another chance to apply the knowledge correctly.

This is further compounded by the idea of ‘exposure’. CogSci literature has been dominated in recent years by terms such as ‘retrieval practice’, which makes an effort to give the opportunity for students to forced learned information back into their short and working memories as a way of strengthening schema.

Successive Relearning – a cognitive scientific principle that shows a great deal of promise to the educational world.

In essence, the more frequently learners are exposed to information, the more of that information they are able to recall each time, and at greater speed. This means that with each successive relearning, retrieval strength and speed are heightened.

An exciting new piece of software that I have been using that utilises not only Socrates’ prophetic pioneering of cognitive scientific principles, but also using CogSci’s latest research is RememberMore and it has been an interesting and exhilarating 2-week period as I introduce CRM in my classroom. 

Many educational colleagues have racked their brains in endless departmental meetings on how to assess the understanding of a whole class as quickly as possible. The normal logical conclusion often reverts to whiteboards, of which many educators have had an experience, the Clicker systems continue to gather dust! 

There are some educational alternatives in the mix that serve to streamline and rationalise the whole process. For instance ‘Plickers’ gave sole control of the learning episode to the classroom teacher in scanning through students responses using a QR code – but from experience, uptake on this lowered after 4 questions, and repeated rounds would see student engagement falter. (Though I am now more cautious of recognition models).

This is where RM has the edge – it streamlines and rationalises this process once more down to it’s logical conclusion, like Demokritus separating all matter down to its most foundational part – the atom.

Once routined, the multiple quick-rounds of RM testing can serve the same function as any other AFL method, and exceed them.

Due to the simplicity of the delivery, the CRM system requires two pieces of material only – pen and paper (and the already existent IWB in the room). The corrective feedback allows the students to mark their own work, and with encouragement from the adult in the room that they trust, they are more honest with themselves. This allows the students to think with a greater metacognitive focus – what do they know? What do they need to know?  How will they come to know it?.

The additional element of seeing their scores get better with each successive round serves to keep engagement at the same level as the beginning of the activity, even elevating it, where other techniques and strategies may lose student engagement and interest over time.

This is a principle that in my Marvel fandom have elected to call the “Deadpool Effect” – a reference that I make each class aware of before we begin. The ‘100% maximum effort’ becomes the norm, and a mantra that they can repeat to themselves not just throughout the task, but in other walks of life where they feel they wish to succeed.

The Deadpool effect is an observed
and observable phenomenon that
can come into effect when successive
relearning becames part of the routine.

Continued in Part 4, here::

2 thoughts on “What can Socrates teach us about cognitive science? (Pt. 3)

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