THE CONNOISSEUR'S GUIDE TO THE MIND by Roger C. Schank

THE CONNOISSEUR'S GUIDE TO THE MIND

How We Think, How We Learn, and What It Means to Be Intelligent

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Another helping of wit and wisdom from the ever-entertaining author of Tell Me a Story: A New Look at Real and Artificial Memory (1990), etc. Here, Schank, director of the Institute for the Learning Science at Northwestern Univ., uses tales of gourmet dinners he has known to evoke the workings of human memory, the underpinnings of the learning process, and the meaning of true intelligence. ``I love to eat and I love to think,'' claims the author, and since he also enjoys combining unpaid pleasures (eating well) with paid ones (writing books about thinking), his lively discussion of the learning process is filtered through tales of his recent sabbatical in Paris, during which he attempted to experience the best of French cuisine and refine his knowledge of good wines. Such a gustatory adventure provides many excellent examples of the processes by which humans gain knowledge: stereotyping, prioritizing, and ``default filling'' (used, for example, to store ``scripts'' for ordering food at a Burger King and at a three-star French restaurant) free up the brain for more efficient thinking; stymied expectations (here, regarding an old Bordeaux that proves nearly undrinkable) lead to learning; firsthand experience (particularly where good food is involved) leads to learning far more efficiently than the rote transferral of facts. A teacher's role, then, Schank concludes, is not to stuff students with already digested facts, but to arrange for them to experience knowledge firsthand, and motivate them to refine that knowledge on their own. In this, Schank himself rates three stars. A tasty and substantial intellectual treat.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-671-67855-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1991