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Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition$
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Linnda R. Caporael, James R. Griesemer, and William C. Wimsatt

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780262019552

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262019552.001.0001

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Footholds and Handholds

Footholds and Handholds

Scaffolding Cognition and Career

Chapter:
(p.343) 16 Footholds and Handholds
Source:
Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition
Author(s):

Barbara Horberg Wimsatt

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262019552.003.0017

Cognition is both developmentally and socially scaffolded. I focus on the social aspects of cognition, whose development occurs through a dynamic coordination and integration by individuals of social resources afforded or sought by them over time. In the often open-ended development of expertise, we see vital handholds, or encouragement by mentors and significant others, and footholds or foundational steps such as crucial decisions, commitment to a training program, access to salient information or other key resources. I consider the early scientific careers of Craig Venter and Charles Darwin, and the many ways in which they were scaffolded both emotively and cognitively. For Darwin, I focus mostly on the development of his theory through multifarious social interactions. This also shows the intertwining of career and intellectual development. Other cases I discuss of medical trainees suggest that that factors such as gender may affect availability of career resources.

Keywords:   Social cognition, Handholds, Footholds, Expertise, Scaffolding, Problem-solving trajectory

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