Surpassing Ourselves: An Inquiry Into the Nature and Implications of Expertise

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Open Court, 1993 - Education - 279 pages
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Expertise arouses fears of a society ruled by an elite of specialists in white coats, or else it arouses derision because of the ineffectual bumbling of the so-called 'experts.'. In Surpassing Ourselves, Bereiter and Scardamalia demonstrate that these stereotypes of expertise are false. Drawing upon the latest research in cognitive psychology, they show that expertise is something other than training, experience, knowledge, or formal qualifications. Many individuals acquire all these without ever becoming experts, while some beginners, even schoolchildren, already approach problems in an 'expertlike' fashion. Expertise is a process of progressive problem-solving in which people continuously rethink and redefine their tasks. A future 'expert society' will not be a heaven in which all problems have disappeared, but a realistic utopia in which endless problem-solving will be a highly-valued part of life. Progressive problem solvers stay healthier, live longer, and experience the intense mental pleasure known as 'flow'. They repeatedly go beyond their well-learned procedures, avoid getting into ruts, and surpass themselves by reformulating problems at new and more complex levels. They are able to transform insoluble predicaments into soluble problems, to the benefit of everyone. Yet many of our present institutions, especially the schools, penalize expertise instead of cultivating it.

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