The Royal Society has just published a journal issue on metacognition.

It’s pretty technical, and I don’t think particularly helpful to teachers.

However, they also published a short video interview with the guest editors of the journal. In it, one of the editors, Christopher Frith, had some useful comments on metacognition. I think most of us know it already, but it was helpful to hear it anyway. It’s just another reminder to me about creating a “The Best…” list on my posts about metacognition.

Here are his two comments that struck me:

Psychologists describe [metacognition] as monitoring and control. An example is when you’re doing something like typing, you monitor what you’re doing so you notice if you’ve made an error and then you slow down — which is the control bit — to prevent the error from happening in the future.

At the very top end of metacognition when we are reflecting on what we’re doing, it has a very important social function. We can actually tell people why we did something. It turns out that most of the time we’re not very good at knowing why we do things. But by actually discussing it with other people we get better.