Executive function can have no meaning apart from practice

I have made good progress in my plan to follow the concepts in Executive Function and Child Development(2013.

I’ve chosen Executive Function and Child Development(2013) as my ‘map’ for this project. I don’t know whether the map is the one that’s ideal for the task at hand, or not, but that doesn’t matter.

Some time back I read an online article, in PDF format, written by a person who has positioned himself as having expertise in ‘sensemaking’ – that is, not sense making of sense-making, but ‘sensemaking.’ You can access the article here.

The above-noted article has in it a story that I really like.

The story concerns a military group that got lost in rough terrain under difficult conditions, during wartime. The group discovered that one of its members had a map, and the group used the map to find its way to their home base, instead of perishing from exposure, which is what otherwise would have happened.

Later it was discovered that the map in question wasn’t a map that dealt with the area where the group was trying to travel across. It was the ‘wrong’ map.

However, the map, even though not suited for the task at hand, technically speaking, enabled the group to be organized and systematic about figuring what to do.

Executive function

I’ve chosen three concepts to focus upon, from the above-noted book about executive function. They are: Response inhibition; self-monitoring; and goal orientation.

Response inhibition

This is concerned with “inhibiting actions that interfere with our intentions or goals.”

Spending time on library books gets in the way of my volunteer work. I’ve stopped borrowing library books for now.


This concerns “checking on one’s own cognitions and ac­tions to ensure that they are in line with one’s intentions.”

Goal orientation

This involves “creating and carrying out a multistep plan for achieving a goal in a timely fashion, keeping the big picture in mind.”

No meaning aside from practice

The reference in the title of this post is derived from a quote from Pierre Bourdieu in Buddhist Warfare (2010).

The passage, on p. 197 of Buddhist Warfare (2010), quotes a passage from Pierre Bourdieu in which the latter author states that: “Space can have no meaning apart from practice; the system of generative and structuring dispositions, or habitus, constitutes and is constituted by actors’ movement through space.”

You can access a review of Buddhist Warfare (2019) at the link above. The review notes that the essays in the study “present and analyze a diverse and surprising (and sometimes horrifying) array of ‘individual and structural cases of prolonged Buddhist violence’ over time and space with the intention of ‘disrupting the social imaginary that holds Buddhist traditions to be exclusively pacifistic and exotic’ (p. 3).”


I’ve found the above-noted outline of what executive function entails, as a concept and as a practice, highly useful for my purposes.

For many years, I spent a lot of time reading library books and writing blog posts based upon them. I’ve learned many new things as a result; the time has been well spent. I’ve now stopped reading library books, for the time being, and have also stopped reading books that I’ve purchased in recent years.

This has been a great move because it enables me to focus on other things – at the current time, in particular on work related to the high school reunion that I’m helping to organize.

Related posts

A companion piece to the current post is entitled: Executive Function and Child Development (2013).

A related post of interest is entitled: The research defies what we’ve been told: How We Learn (2014) and The Handbook of Language Socialization (2014).


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