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Reuven Feuerstein

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Doctor Reuven Feuerstein (Hebrew: ראובן פוירשטיין ‎ ) is the originator of the theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability (SCM), the theory of Mediated Learning Experience (MLE), and Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment (FIE). The idea that intelligence can be taught is at the core of Dr. Feuerstein’s work.

Feuerstein studied at the University of Geneva under Jean Piaget, Andre Rey, Barbel Inhelder, and Marguerite Loosli Uster and is a peer of Lev Vygotsky. He is the chairman of the International Center for Enhancement of Learning Potential (ICELP) in Jerusalem. The concepts that intelligence is plastic and changeable, not fixed, and that intelligence can be "taught" are central to the theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability. Intelligence can be developed within a mediated learning environment created with the theory of Mediated Learning Experience. A mediator is a person who works in relationship with the learner in developing cognitive functions leading to clearer thinking and improved learning processes.

After developing these theories and a set of practices for mediation to enhance the thinking of children-survivors of the Holocaust, Feuerstein uncovered teacher’s needs for methods that would ground their work in a curriculum format. To this end, he developed 14 "instruments" that mediators and students use to enrich cognitive functions and to build habits of efficient thinking. He organized these "content free" instruments into a single three-year program for students above the age of 9 known as Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment.

After 50 years of success, documented by over 1500 scientific research studies with various populations including engineers at a Motorola (USA) plant, impoverished students in rural communities (Bahia, Brazil), non-literate immigrants (Ethiopia), Autistic and Down Syndrome children (Jerusalem), low-performing high school math students (Cleveland, Ohio, USA), weak readers in middle grades (Portland, Oregon, USA), and many other groups. Feuerstein developed a BASIC version of Instrumental Enrichment for use with early childhood and severely challenged adolescents. Projects throughout the State of Alaska (USA) and in Britain, Italy, India and Japan are exploring the applications of the new instruments with young children especially as a way to avoid the over-categorization of students as learning disabled.

Following is an excerpt from a diary record (Letters From Jerusalem) by Myron Tribus of the proceedings of the International Center for the Enhancement of Learning Potential 18th Annual Conference July 1997: [1]

Today we had the opening ceremonies for the 18th Annual Conference on the two basic theories, Structural Cognitive Modification (SCM) and Mediated Learning Experience (MLE), with their two applied methods, Instrumental Enrichment (IE) and Learning Propensity Assessment Device (LPAD). There are 233 people attending the conference, representing 33 different countries.

The ceremonies included remarks by Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister. He spoke of the importance of education in this new era and then went on to describe his experience at a nearby military base. There he met with some down syndrome men, who had been mediated by Feuerstein's methods and were now serving in uniform in the Israeli Defense Forces. He spoke of the pride these men had in being able to wear the uniform and to take up their duties. He also spoke of his gratification at the acceptance of these soldiers by the military command. At one point he said,"I had great difficulty containing my emotions as I saw and talked with these down syndrome afflicted men."

Netanyahu also said, "A country should be judged by how it cares for the most vulnerable of its citizens."

As part of the opening ceremonies, Dr Feuerstein said, "Instrumental Enrichment has been tested for a very long time on a very large population, of great variety and has demonstrated that regardless of the source of cognitive damage, be it from the culture shock of immigrant children, damage from physical injuries, the trauma of child abuse or extreme poverty, parental neglect ... regardless of the cause, the cognitive functioning of people has been increased. Experience tells us that this increase is without limit."

Reuven Feuerstein gave a long after lunch lecture on the foundations of mediated learning and how he saw all elements (SCM), (MLE), (IE) and (LPAD) fitting together. He also decried the practice of some people merely to copy some of the materials of IE, sell them as pamphlets and then tell teachers that all they have to do is "apply them" without benefit of theory, training or supervision. He made the point that successful use of SCM, MLE, IE and LPAD required an understanding of both the theory and the practice. Theory alone would not suffice, nor would just the tools and techniques.

Feuerstein made another point: We need to understand cognitive processes, not just behavioral outcomes. Thus, MLE aims to help learners increase their cognitive competencies, not just master certain subject matter. There is no interest in scoring progress; the objective is to help the learner improve cognitive competencies.

Bibliography Edit

  • Sharron, Howard Changing Children's Minds: Feuerstein's Revolution in the Teaching of Intelligence Souvenir Press Ltd (February 1991) ISBN 0-285-65034-3

External links Edit

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