Reading ‘Education and mind in the Knowledge Age’ Carl Bereiter #cck11

Understanding is a relation between the knower and an object of understanding. Understanding implies abilities and dispositions with respect to an object of knowledge sufficient to support intelligent behavior. In all these practical cases, deep understanding means understanding deep things about the object in question, which in turn implies deep and extensive involvement with the object. To behave withunderstanding is to act in ways that are attuned to relevant properties of the thing.

The eleven observations made earlier about understanding people are here applied to what we shall for simplicity call ‘Connectivism.’
1. What constitutes understanding Connectivism depends on your relationship to it. Different kinds of understanding (not just different levels of understanding) are appropriate to an elementary school teacher, a learning theorist, a student learning theory, a researcher.

2. Understanding is intimately bound up with ability to act intelligently in relation to the theory. Acting intelligently with regard to Connectivism might mean using it intelligently as a tool or it might mean using it to make sense of educational phenomena. A person who has thoroughly “internalized” Connectivism will perceive and act in ways consistent with the theory, without having to recall or deliberately apply its principles.

3. Understanding is also intimately bound up with interest. Although exceptions are conceivable (as they are in the case of understanding persons), it seems a reasonable supposition that the person who has no interest in Connectivism does not understand it.

4. Understanding Connectivism depends on understanding its relationships to neurology, psychology, learning, teaching,, epistomology, etc.

5. Understanding of Connectivism is not necessarily accompanied by ability to explain. Explanation may, however, play a crucial role in acquiring and furthering its understanding.

6. Although there is no single correct, complete, or ideal understanding of Connectivism, there are recognizably wrong understandings, and these are potentially correctable.

7. Discussions of Connectivism will seldom make reference to mental states or mental contents of the discussants. Instead, discussion will focus on the theory itself, its implications, applications, limitations, and so on.

8. A major way in which understanding of Connectivism will be manifested is through narratives in which ideas such as learning, knowledge, and teaching figure. An account on the premise that knowledge exists in the world rather than in the head of an individual , for instance, could be expected to reveal quite a bit about the extent and accuracy of the speaker’s understanding of Connectivism. Inadequate understanding would be manifested in narratives that are incomplete, implausible, and incoherent.

9 Having a understanding of Connectivism means understanding the deeper things about it—derivations, proofs, nonobvious implications and applications.

10. Deep understanding of Connectivism is most clearly demonstrated by insightful solution of problems involving it.

11. A deep understanding of Connectivism can only arise from deep involvement with the theory—from thinking about it a lot and from various angles, from using it in various contexts and for various purposes.

We should treat the understanding of conceptual artifacts in the same commonsense way that we treat the understanding of material objects—as inhering in the relationship between the person and the object rather than as a characteristic of a different kind of object located in the person’s mind.

Understanding refers to that aspect of a relationship which has to do with its potential to support intelligent action.

What is it, then, to feel that we understand? Taking a cue from Karl Popper (Popper & Eccles, 1975, p. 44), I would say that it is a feeling of confidence. It is confidence that we know how to proceed, how to deal as appropriate with the object of understanding.

But if we did decide to pursue understanding of any ofthese, we would tackle it as a problem. What is it about the object in question that we trying to understand and to what purpose? Having framed the problem—perhaps initially in rather vague terms—we would set about solving it.

According to the view I am trying to advance, educators ought to be less occupied with what is in students’ minds and more concerned with what kinds of relationships are developing between the students and those conceptual artifacts that find their way into the curriculum.

Bereiter adds emotion and feeling and other aspects of relations to relational understanding. (this post is about ch. 4 of the book)



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