Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 7, No. 3 (2010)

The Resonating World of the Regional Mind+Brain

Terry S. Maybury, The University of Queensland


The 2008 Bradley Review of Higher Education in Australia painted a disconcerting picture for tertiary-level learning and teaching in our country’s regional and remote areas. This diagnosis is in line with a range of other predictions for these same jurisdictions, regardless of whether they range over environmental, social, cultural, economic, governmental or indigenous rationales. Clearly, across a range of criteria the situation is not good in Australia’s backblocks. Rather than employing the usual coterie of analyses (sociological, political, cultural or economic, for instance) might it be helpful to posit an alternative model for delineating regional knowledge, that is, a psycho-physiological approach? In particular, a cognitive model that Susan Leigh Star refers to as “regions of the mind”. Might learning and teaching itself find it useful to pay closer attention to this widespread understanding of the brain’s workings? The university is after all an institution that trains brains, which alerts us to another important issue in cognitive science: brain plasticity. Herein, brain regionalism and plasticity have more than a passing resonance with a geographically arraigned regionalism. Recognising that a primarily socio-economic or a governmental/structural solution to these problems is nowhere near enough, “The Resonating World of the Regional Mind+Brain” draws together these two divergent threads as a possible linking together of the regionality of cognition with its geographic namesake. And it is through this umbilical linkage that a renewed prognosis of learning and teaching regionally might be conceived. This is a possible model for the rejuvenation of learning and teaching that centres on the ancient and universal notions of thought, memory and embeddedness, not as singular and separate individual occurrences but as an holistic and always resonating manifestation of collective knowledge, now largely conceived, produced, distributed and interpreted electronically.

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