Removing the divide between individual learning/development and cultural knowledge/development

Principal Metaphors

  • Knowledge is … scope of externalized actions and interpretations
  • Knowing is … doing (i.e., appropriate action in a situation)
  • Learner is … a cultural apprentice (socialized and enculturated individual)
  • Learning is … participating (i.e., internalizing culturally appropriate identifications and competencies)
  • Teaching is … modeling (i.e., acting as a more-expert agent while involving learners in culturally relevant experiences)




Commognition is an education-focused articulation of Socio-Cultural Theory. The name is a mash-up of communication and cognition, used to signify the unity of interaction and thinking. Commognition foregrounds the role of verbal language, attending in particular to the human capacity to talk about almost anything, including talk itself. That recursive function of language is seen as the source of unbounded innovation and ever-mounting complexity.


The principal contribution of Commognition has been an updating of the vocabulary of Socio-Cultural Theory, tailored especially for the issues and obligations associated with formal education. Beyond that, it offers little that hasn’t already been developed across other theories, particularly Second-Order Cybernetics.

Authors and/or Prominent Influences

Anna Sfard

Status as a Theory of Learning

Commognition is a Socio-Cultural Theory of learning.

Status as a Theory of Teaching

Commognition is not a theory of teaching.

Status as a Scientific Theory

Commognition meets our criteria for a scientific theory.

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2019). “Commognition” in Discourses on Learning in Education.

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