, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 601-663,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 13 Sep 2011

Educating the Developing Mind: Towards an Overarching Paradigm


This essay first summarizes an overarching theory of cognitive organization and development. This theory claims that the human mind involves (1) several specialized structural systems dealing with different domains of relations in the environment, (2) a central representational capacity system, (3) general inferential processes, and (4) consciousness. These systems interact dynamically during development so that changes in each are related to changes in others. The changes in all systems and the change mechanisms are described. This theory integrates research and theorizing from cognitive, developmental, and differential psychology. Based on this theory, a model for education is proposed that specifies, first, educational priorities for different phases of development according to the cognitive developmental milestones associated with each phase. The theory also specifies how education can educate students to (1) construct mental models for the sake of conceptual change, (2) use their central representational capacity efficiently, (3) advance analogical and deductive reasoning, (4) learn how to learn, and (5) become critical and creative thinkers. The theory is offered as an overarching paradigm for the architecture, the development, and the education of the human mind.