Monday, October 5, 2015

When talking about education in his book The Medium is the Massage, Marshall McLuhan writes that, "Education must shift from instruction, from imposing of stencils, to discovery-- to probing and exploration and to the recognition of the language of forms." (100) During his talk on the neuroscience of aesthetics, Professor Ed Vessel brought up a similar point when he mentioned that the study of aesthetics could help improve education. Using the idea that human beings naturally search for new information and experiences, a concept known as the Information Foraging Theory, Professor Vessel suggested that the human brain has a built in reward system for learning. The pleasure that we feel from a novel aesthetic experience, such a viewing a beautiful painting for the first time or hearing a new piece of music, is intrinsic to the experience itself. This same idea can be applied to learning, and if we can understand how to harness this part of the brain's function, we come one step closer to McLuhan's idea of making education about 'discovery, probing and exploration'. Instead of, for example, forcing a second grade student to learn multiplication or the history of the American revolution, we can inspire that student to want to learn about these topics and others, to pursue education freely. This lasting love of learning will mean that our students are able to learn and achieve more than ever, and hold on to their lessons for far longer than they would have otherwise.


  1. Finding the correct means to education seems to be such a problem in the world today, the different ways of learning are stunted by education and creativity is stripped from students everywhere. It is interesting to question the role of education and how it helps or stunts the forms of exploration and development of humanity.

  2. I agree that especially in this new age, we need a new manner of teaching or encouraging learning. I'm wondering if you have any ideas? Learning really is important, but with the internet and everything else, there isn't much incentive to go to school or try very hard since we walk around with the answers to almost any questions we could think of in our pockets or backpacks.