Computers, Cockroaches, and Ecosystems

Understanding Learning through Metaphor

Kevin J. Pugh, University of Northern Colorado

Published 2017

Of all the topics ever studied, surely one of the most compelling is human learning itself. What is the nature of the human mind? How do we understand and process new information? Where do new ideas come from? How is our very intelligence a product of society and culture?

Computers, Cockroaches, and Ecosystems: Understanding Learning through Metaphor brings to light the great discoveries about human learning by illuminating key metaphors underlying the major learning perspectives. Such metaphors include, among others, the mind as computer, the mind as ecosystem, and the mind as cultural tools. These metaphors reveal the essence of different learning perspectives in a way that is accessible and engaging for teachers and students. Each metaphor is brought to life through stories ranging from the humorous to the profound.

The book conveys scholarly ideas in a personal manner and will be a delight for teachers, university students, parents, business or military trainers, or anyone with an interest in learning.

CHAPTER 1: The Learning Age. PART I: BEHAVIORISM CHAPTER 2: Learning as Natural Selection. PART II: COGNITIVISM CHAPTER 3: Mind as Computer. CHAPTER 4. Mind as Network. PART III: CONSTRUCTIVISM CHAPTER 5: Computer as Mind. CHAPTER 6: Mind as Ecosystem. PART IV: SOCIOCULTURALISM CHAPTER 7: Mind as Cultural Tools. CHAPTER 8: Learning as Cockroach or Panda Bear. PART V: THE PURPOSE OF LEARNING CHAPTER 9: Learning as the Journey versus the Map. CHAPTER 10: Learning as Art.

"Overall, Pugh is successful in his goal of helping readers understand how the teaching and learning processes work from multiple perspectives. In particular, Pugh’s approach would be helpful for teacher educators and others interested in making modern cognitive learning theory accessible to practitioners and laypeople. Pugh states, “We are in the age of learning. Yet the core principles of learning are not common knowledge. This is a problem” (p. 9). This book provides a useful set of answers to this problem." Joseph Erickson Augsburg University in Teachers College Record (Read full review)

"Computers, Cockroaches, and Ecosystems provides a concise and easy-to-read introduction to four major learning theories: behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and socioculturalism. It is a practical and relevant guide for new and experienced teachers alike. Pugh helps the reader to understand each of the learning theories using examples drawn from his own personal experience, as well as case studies from the literature. The book is written in a conversational tone that is easily accessible and mostly free of jargon." Rachael Anderman Lancor Edgewood College in Science & Education (Read full review)