Mediated Learning Experience. Mediation of Transcendence


Trevor Moodley is an Associate Professor, Education Faculty, at UWC and is a registered Educational Psychologist. Prior to entering academia he spent 20 years in Basic Education, 13 of those were in the classroom as a primary school teacher, specializing in teaching Maths and Science. He has also qualified as a practitioner in Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment.

Lilian Lomofsky is a registered Educational Psychologist, whose research and interests are in the area of Inclusive education, special needs and cognitive education. She is retired from her previous position as a Senior Lecturer at UWC.  She is an accredited trainer in Feuerstein’s methods (ATA) and has given numerous Instrumental Enrichment workshops in South Africa.


A central component of Feuerstein’s theory of structural cognitive modifiability is Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) (Feuerstein, 1979, 1980). In the theory and practice of MLE, there are three main criteria that are considered to be universal. The Mediation of Transcendence, together with Mediation of Intentionality and Reciprocity and Mediation of Meaning, are necessary components of, and should be present in every human interaction.


The Mediation of Transcendence means, “Going beyond the immediate objectives of the interaction or an immediate learning situation, by including more remote ones”, which is an important goal of MLE. Thus what is immediately experienced in the ‘here and now’ by the learners, can be transferred to a different time or another place and enlarges the repertoire of experiences in their lives to include cognitive, affective and motivational responses.

Why is this Mediation of Transcendence important for better thinking and learning in the classroom?

In the Mediation of Transcendence, the mediator assists the learner to not only interpret what has been learned in the classroom, but also to transfer the learning experience or concept to other contexts, such as their daily lives and social contexts. The type of question for metacognition may be, “Where else would this be relevant?” or “How can I can apply this skill/concept in a different situation?”

Transcendence may also be referred to as “bridging” or going beyond the topic of the lesson in the classroom. The learners are not expected to only learn facts by rote but instead be encouraged to form associations or find the interconnectedness among objects, behaviours and situations.  This will develop their curiosity to discover relationships, to seek for explanations and have a deeper understanding. Thus resulting in learners to become creative and autonomous thinkers. “It is the flexibility and plasticity engendered by MLE and Transcendence that makes the human individual modifiable and in a constant state of change” (Feuerstein and Feuerstein, p.22, 1991)

What is the topic/concept?

The Principle selected for the purpose of this discussion is for learners to understand the differing viewpoints of others or seeing the perspective of others.  People become less egocentric when learning to understand different perspectives, to be more tolerant of differences, which enables their adaptability to changes in society. By ‘putting themselves into the shoes of others’, they also develop more empathy when interacting with people from diverse cultural backgrounds as the people of our country, South Africa, as well as most countries in our world.

How can this topic be applied to subject teaching in the classroom?

In the subject History teaching, where in lessons it is important to link the past with the present and the future.  Only when students have knowledge of past events can they understand current events and then are able to plan for the future.

The narrative in History lessons can change and may be taught and discussed from different perspectives i.e. that of the indigenous population or the immigrants who settled in the country. They may express different perspectives according to their social background.

Other examples are questions about “How has my personal family history influenced my life?”

How has the history of slavery in Cape Town shaped current urban geographies and the languages spoken in and around the city? (Here history and geography are included to show the link and how phenomena are linked in the real world)

Gauteng is the smallest province in South Africa, yet is South Africa’s economic hub. How did Gauteng achieve this status and will it be able to remain the economic driver of the country in the future?

Another example may be that  many learners struggle with algebra (that branch of mathematics in which letters and other general symbols are used to represent numbers and quantities in formulae and equations).  At school a learner may not be able to solve the following problem:  3y = 12, solve for y.

However, you could remind the learner that the earlier grades, shapes were used as place holders. Therefore the problem can be represented as:

3 x  |_| = 12, what number should be placed inside the square. Now the square is replaced with the ‘y’ symbol as a placeholder.  Find the value of ‘y’ in 3 x y = 12.

In the subject Mathematics. Many children struggle with mathematics yet mathematics is an essential part of daily living. Therefore, serious attempts need to be made to make math relevant in daily life

For example: How are negative numbers (-1; -2; -13, -121, etc.) used in real life

Some uses are for reading the temperature when it is below 0℃ such as -5℃ or when your bank account goes into overdraft, this means that you do not have money of your own in your banking account and you are actually borrowing from the bank. So, if you have a balance of -R100 on your bank slip it means that you actually owe the bank R100.  The adding of 2 negative numbers can also be explained in this manner. For example: you owe a friend R5 and you borrow another R2 from the same friend. Now you owe your friend R7. The math operation would be -R5 + (-R2) = -R7

Transcendence could also mean looking back at prior knowledge in a subject and linking prior knowledge to the current lesson to advance conceptual understanding. It therefore plays the important educational goal of linking existing with new knowledge, which usually enhances learning since developing associations between ‘islands of learning’ usually leads to more meaningful engagement with what is being learnt.

Cultural transmission and ‘collective’ needs in society

MLE is considered a universal form of interaction that is necessary in all cultures. The mode of interactions may differ according to the cultural and social background,  In some cultures the mother’s style or mode of interaction or communication may be more verbal whereas others may be more gestural and non-verbal or attitudinal. The mediator may be a parent, caregiver, teacher, mentor, peer or competent other.

Mediation of Transcendence also refers to the transmission of ‘culture’ from generation to generation, which leads to an understanding of one’s personal history as well as that of the society to which he/she is reared. Feuerstein states that every culture has its own richness with its own belief and value system and moral code. Through transmission of culture an individual acquires his habits and ways of behaving as well as the values and morals of the society.  In societies that are undergoing change,  these understandings will enable individuals to adapt more easily to the changes.  If this mediation is lacking, for various reasons the individual may not comprehend certain situations or events and have ‘an episodic grasp of reality’.  In heterogeneous societies, such as in South Africa, the explicit intention to learn in diverse settings by drawing on the funds of knowledge from different cultures, not only enriches the learning process, but provides the opportunity to achieve an even more important goal; social cohesion.

Mediation of transcendence also affects change in the affective /emotional and social development.  It also has a goal to mediate a feeling of competence.  When the learner acquires a skill, the intention to make him/her feel competent, transcends the immediate goal of the skill acquisition.

Visit our Tools and Recommended Reading pages for  recommended and applicable literature sources on this topic. 

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