The two necessary conditions for adult cognitive development are the person’s ability to engage in rational discourse and critically reflect to the receive experience. Cognitive development is closely connected to the change in thinking patterns, and the more they are creative and powerful the better achievements the person may expect to have in one’s professional, and even personal life. To change thinking patterns successfully, it is very important to engage in transformational learning. Transformational learning should have its purpose in developing individual way of thinking. People who were able to occupy the best positions among their contemporaries had unique way of thinking and unique inner world distinguishing them from the others. The history of success remembers such incredible personalities as Henry Ford, Soichiro Honda, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs and many more. These people were so special on the reason of their extraordinary cognitive development enabling them affect the masses by means of their incredible charisma.
Transformational learning is only possible when the person permits the changes within ones’ brain happening as a result of critical reflection and reflective discourse. Numerous researchers prove that without the ability to critically reflect on the events of the outer world, the person’s cognitive development is equal to zero (Merriam 2004). Similarly, the ability to participate in reflective discourse is closely connected to the ability to think dialectically, and dialectical thinking is an important skill of a mature individual. In addition, participating in reflective discourse requires ability to examine alternative prospective. Such ability characterizes the person as someone able to overcome one’s own biases and warped judgments which appears to be one of the most important conditions for the personal progress. Besides, cognitive development, evident in the ability to participate in reflective discourse, is seen in the absence of long-standing and conservative ideas.
Critical reflection is more than important for cognitive development. It is not enough to acquire some experience because the value of experience is only in conclusions made as a result of something learnt and experienced. Without the ability to critically reflect on any information received from the outer world, the person’s further development is impossible. It is well noted by many famous people that the value of experience is not in the experience itself, but in the intellectual development which becomes possible as a result of critical reflections on the events seen and lived through (Merriam 2004). It does not matter whether the person had positive or negative experience, but it matters a lot whether this experience led to properly exercised critical reflections. There exist three types of critical reflection including content reflection or the reflection on the experience in itself; process reflection or the reflection on how to live through the experience; and premise reflection or critical reflections on assumptions (Merriam 2004). Among the three types of critical reflections, premise reflection is the most important for cognitive development of the individual because it is made on the basis of abstract developments in the society such as national mentality, cultural peculiarities, beliefs common in a particular society, and so on.
Concluding on all the above-discussed information, it should be stated that cognitive development of an individual is impossible without the two important conditions: the ability to critically reflect on the received experienced, and the ability to participate in reflective discourse. These two abilities are absolutely necessary for transformational learning.
Merriam, S 2004, ‘The Role of Cognitive Development in Mezirow’s Transformational Learning Theory’, Adult Education Quarterly, vol. 55 no.60, pp. 60-68.