Book review: Surpassing ourselves
Wed, 18 Dec 96 23:07:01 GMT

Those interested in the psychology of education and learning
may want to take a look at "Surpassing Ourselves" by
Bereiter and Scardamalia. I am usually not very fond of this
type of "soft" psychology, -neither numbers nor concrete
practical advise- but this book was endurable to me and
should therefore be very enjoyable for those with a taste
for this gengre.

The basic idea is that what makes the difference between a
gifted individual that never becomes anything other than
"skilled" and one that becomes an "expert" (they use this
term broadly, to mean "outstanding, excellent; creative") is
in the way they approach the learning process. Most people
see it as a one-stage problem solving taks: they are faced
with a particular type of task, and when, after a while,
they have learnt master that task, the learning process is
over for their part. The "experts", on the other hand, take
an "expertlike" approach, which means that when they have
mastered the original task, they begin to redefine it to
include more challenging desiderata. A doctor may begin to
ponder *why* that treatment was successful, a car salesman
may extend his strategy so that it is not only effective in
selling a car to the prospective custmer, but also in
prompting him to come back another time, to recommend the
car shop to his friends, to become a personal friend to the
salesman etc. etc. In short, the expertlike learner
reinvests the resources in the learning process, and his set
of goals evolve as his goes along. All this sounds pretty

Nicholas Bostrom