This book delves into how we come to terms with ourselves, with other
people, and with the world in general. It is about how we come to be what
we are, and to think the way we do. It is a book about influences on this
process. A particular influence to which Smith gives central consideration
is language, not just in terms of the communicative networks in which it
engages us--the "information" that presents itself to us--but in the
largely unsuspected framework for thought that lies within language itself.
He also considers deeply the role of technology.
This is a book of description, not of explanations--these are two quite
different intellectual territories. Smith writes about what can be
observed, not philosophized about. Thus he does not discuss the inner
workings of the human brain. His claim is that what he is interested
in--thinking, learning, understanding, remembering--have never been found
in the brain. The aim is to describe the scope and limits for how we can
be seen to think, learn, understand, and remember--but not to "explain"
such behavior by recourse to hypothetical inner entities.
"Ourselves" speaks especially to educators. It outlines the possibilities
and limitations inherent in all of us. It delineates who we are, but also
stresses that no two people are the same, that what we become depends on
our journeys in life and the people we encounter on the way. The formal
part of learning that is called education is particularly sensitive to the
role of people who organize critical experiences for us, our teachers. The
brief summaries at the end of each chapter reinforce and highlight points
that are of particular relevance to teachers. Researchers, professionals,
and graduate students across the fields of literacy education, psychology
of reading, learning theory, human learning, educational psychology, and
psycholinguistics will find this book compelling.