Knowledge Is Facts About The World Education Essay

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Knowledge is a collection of facts about the world and procedures for how to solve problems. Facts are statements like 'The earth is tilted on it's axis by 23.45 degrees' and procedures are step by step instructions like how to do multi-digit addition by carrying to the next column.

The goal of schooling is to get these facts and procedures into the students head. People are considered to be educated when they possess a large collection of these facts and procedures.

Teachers know these facts and procedures and their job is to transmit them to students.

Simpler facts and procedures should be learned first, followed by progressively more complex facts and procedures. The definitions of 'simplicity' and 'complexity' and the proper sequencing of material were determined either by teachers, by textbook authors, or by asking expert adults like mathematicians, scientists and historians; but not by studying how children actually learn.

The way to determine the success of schooling is to test students to see how many of these facts and procedures they have acquired.

This traditional version of schooling is known as 'instructionism' or 'transmission method'. Instructionism prepared students for the industrialized economy of the early 20th Century. But the world today is much more technically complex and economically competitive, and instructionism is increasingly failing to educate students to participate in this new kind of society. Today we are living in a knowledge economy, an economy that is based on knowledge work. In the knowledge economy memorization of facts and procedures is not enough for success. Educated graduates need a deep conceptual understanding of complex concepts, and the ability to work with them creatively to generate new ideas, new theories, new products and new knowledge. They need to be able to critically evaluate what they read, be able to express themselves clearly, both verbally and in writing, and to be able to understand scientific and mathematical thinking. They need to be able to learn integrated and useable knowledge, rather than the sets of compartmentalized and decontextualised facts emphasized by instructionism. They need to be able to take responsibility for their own lifelong learning. These abilities are important to the economy, to the continued success of participatory democracy, and to living a fulfilling, meaningful life. Instructionism is particularly ill suited to the education of creative professionals who can develop new knowledge and continually further their own understanding; instructionism is an anachronism in the modern innovation economy.

Galton's theory was to try to explain human differences. His view was that intelligence was genetically inherited, he argued that the distribution of natural or innate abilities was distributed normally amongst the population and those individuals who possessed the most 'innate ability' were the most successful in society e.g. 'children of gold' (Plato - Myth of Mixed Metals). This led to the practice of Eugenics (selective breeding) and became widely accepted in Western culture because of economical and social issues. At the time there was a belief in the need for a governing elite of the 'heritably able' to be able to redeem the social situation (Torrance 1989 Study text). There was also deemed to be a need to regulate access to education and therefore jobs according to merit to establish a fair way of identifying talent. To be able to do this there needed to be some way to measure peoples inherent abilities. Intelligence tests were derived. They thought that it was not only possible to measure intelligence objectively, but from these measures future performance could be predicted. Spearman factor 'g', Pearson - statistical methods to try to promote research into heredity, Burt worked with schoolchildren to confirm the existence of innate and heritable ability and to develop tests to measure it. These narrow tests were considered valid as performance indicators as they measured 'capacity to learn'. Hence an individuals 'g' factor was the 'ceiling', the limit on a child's future achievements and therefore on their occupational performance. It is not difficult to relate this to some of the ideas about education that were prevalent even in the last century. The tripartite system of secondary education introduced by the Education Act 1944 was based on the premise that, by the age of 11 years, it would be possible to judge whether a child was best fitted for a grammar, technical or secondary modern education (i.e. a child of gold, silver or copper/iron). Despite rhetoric at the time about parity of esteem, these three routes were never, in reality, afforded equal status. The Myth of Mixed Metals describes the possibility of 'children of silver' being born from 'parents of gold' and vice versa. This is a discussion that is still undertaken today when we wonder how much of our behaviour and ability is inherent when we are born, and how much is learnt. This is often referred to as the Nature/Nurture debate.

Transmission model of learning

Teacher as dispenser of knowledge, the student is the passive receiver. Nothing intervenes between stimulation and response. Therefore if the stimulation is successful with some learners then any problems for other learners must rest with them.

Claxton - teachers have to present knowledge and train learners to apply it (am I a teacher of a trainer?)

My view of mind…………………………

b. Contructivist

Hodson: evolved from 1970, used Piaget theories as base, individuals generate their own understanding, individuals prior knowledge determines sense made of new experiences.

Hodson: balance between content and practice. Increase in process led courses. Focus on observation, interpretation and classification. Outcomes concerned with how to observe, not what to observe. Developed the inductive view - observe first, interpret second. Observation per se is unproblematic. Anyone can observe. When we observe science we select only those features that are familiar or expected. Driver (1983) argues that 'looking at' is an active process where the observer is checking perceptions against expectations.

Children come to science with informal concepts and theories about scientific phenomena that influence how they engage with learning experiences and what they judge to be evidence (p19 study text).

Gunstone (1988) - rethinking the goals of science education towards having students see the direction of science - what is useful for the students to help them function effectively.

Constructivist perspective - how to make scientific interpretations, models and generalizations believable to students and more useful than ones they already hold. Metacognition - teaching students to understand their own learning.

Formative assessment - carried out during learning to try to gain insight into the student's view of science so that teachers view can reflect that of student.


learners are active constructors and reconstructors of their own understanding; inactive, in a mental sense, learners are not constructing meaning.

learning depends as much on what the learner brings to the task as to what the teacher builds into it.

the restructuring of mental representations is a continuing process

learning is a purposeful activity - learners have the final responsibility for their own learning.

There are commonalities in the meanings that learners construct. Planning effective teaching needs to be informed by common meanings. Difference between behaviourism and transmission and constructivist theories:

View the learner as passive receiver V view of learner as an active constructor.


Different ways of conceptualizing the human mind, the development of learning and the way this impacts on behaviour lead to different approaches to the education of young people and the development of childrens learning. Bruner (1996) there are two 'strikingly different' ways of thinking about how the mind works. One of these is to conceptualize the mind in cognitive terms as operating like a computer in processing the information it receives. Information processing systems of any kind are governed by procedures that control the flow of incoming information, what should be done with it, how it should be categorized and so on. For this conceptualization of 'mind', one appropriate pedagogy is, as Bruner comments, 'drill'. One of the problems associated with an information processing view of mind is that it assumes that all information can be sorted into specifiable categories to produce intelligible outputs in terms of knowledge and skills (Bruner 1996). This conceptualization cannot account for processes of human meaning-making which are 'messy' (Frederickson 1993), ambiguous and sensitive to context (Bruner 1996).

In Bruner's view meaning-making is situated in a cultural context as well as in the prior conceptions that learners bring with them into new situations as a result of previous learning in other contexts. New learning is a product of the interplay between them.

School pedagogy must be capable of instructing students in the toolkit of the particular culture. Where learning is assumed to occur through engagement in society, pedagogy needs to be interactive and intersubjective to take account of individual meaning-making and allow for the production of shared task outcomes. It is the reverse of the transmission-of-knowledge view of teaching.

Schools need to recognize that they exist in societies where issues of power, status and rewards are very influential. Educational policies and practices need to take account of this.

Schooling plays a critical part in shaping a student's sense of self - that is the student's belief in his or her ability, responsibility and skill in initiating and completing actions and tasks. The way in which schools mediate success and failure is crucial to a sense of personal agency. School is an integral part of the culture, not simply a way of preparing for entry. Teachers should therefore reflect continuously on the impact of school processes and practices on young peoples sense of agency and ability.

The use of narrative is a very powerful way to support students in finding a place and attaining a sense of belonging in the world.

Failing to support the development of students in understanding and ability to act in a cultural context risks marginalizing and alienating young people and rendering them incompetent.

The cognitive approach can encompass a wide range of approaches, including the use of perception, language, problem solving, memory, decision making and imagery. In the area of student learning, metacognitive awareness, is an awareness of one's own thinking, feelings and emotions (p65).

In recent years the cognitive behavioural approach has extended into constructivism with its focus on ways in which individuals construct their understanding of the reality in which they live.

MCLeod, 1998

"Constructivism can perhaps be categorized as resting on three basic assumptions. First, the person is regarded as an 'active knower', as purposefully engaged in making sense of his or her world. Second, language functions as the primary means through which the person constructs an understanding of the world. Constructivist therapists are therefore particularly interested in linguistic products such as stories and metaphors, which are seen as ways of constructing experience. Third, there is a developmental dimension to the persons capacity to construct their world".

SEH804 notes - Greenfield, neuronal plasticity …………………………additional 200 words req'd

brain cells and more particularly just how adaptable they are to stimulation and to change. 'Mind' used for the subtle things in life, like learning. Brain cells can really adapt to exquisite changes in the environment (plasticity), this is the personalization of the brain, occurs as one grows. Emotion directly linked with consciousness and learning comes afterwards. Learning is the formation of specialized connections in the brain which add on to the cells that are already there. You don't receive information, you construct it. All the time you are interpreting the world in terms of your own personalised connections. Influence of culture, Greenfield, hugely significant to how we interpret the world and how we interpret information coming in, indeed how we learn. The whole point of facts on their own is that they are very boring, it's when you see a pattern emerging, by comparing one fact with another, that it's interesting. Instead of fretting about whether somebody has an innate ability or not, we should assume that they have this fabulous brain that is very adaptable and more what the constraints are, what the cultural blocks might be on people, but also on how they can actually put things together to have an interesting idea rather than just know facts. Meaning making is seeing one thing in terms of another, which means that different people understand things to different degrees. Makes sense of how we experience and know the world, you evaluate the same thing coming in differently as you get older - lifelong learner. Greenfield thinks certainly in science, the whole issue is to see connections, to see a pattern emerging. Passing exam mentality, being excited about science is seen as secondary to knowing a lot of facts, ticking all the boxes that you have learnt something. The whole point about science is using your curiosity, asking questions and spotting connections. Notion of the purposeful learner, who needs independence and autonomy. In a sense that involves an interaction rather than just a passive something coming in because if you have a purpose you will do something to it; you will be proactive and if you interact you will gather and learn more effectively; if you are actually doing something in response to things and you are growing at your own pace. Learning in science is the need to collaborate with others.

c. Ways I think science learning is effectively supported…………

Driver Ch2.2 context and relevance….. DVD "Nobody likes cold tea"

Brown Ch2.3 ……… of proximal development - scaffolding

500 words

Hodson p96….

The most appropriate form of scaffolding depends of course on the nature of the task, the learners and the situation. It also changes with time as learners gain experience with the task. Early scaffolding steps are finding connections between what is to be learnt and what students already know and have experienced, establishing a context that is meaningful and relevant to the students.

Supporting student learning with regard to scientific investigations requires deliberate and consistent instructional effort. Research shows that simply 'doing' science activities leaves students with an inaccurate sense of what science is and how it works.

At the root of all science investigation are complex and compelling problems. In order for problems to be effective for supporting learning, they must be meaningful from both the standpoint of the discipline and from the standpoint of the learner. If a problem fails to connect to legitimate and fundamental scientific ideas, it cannot be used to promote science learning. And if students fail to see the problem as meaningful, there is little chance that they will engage in the range of productive, scientific practices that result in science learning.

Study notes p38….

In the fostering a community of learners (FCL) the learners role is far from a passive one. They have autonomy in deciding the direction of their learning and in their pursuit of this. They are thinkers and decision makers with responsibility for their learning.

Question 2

a. Rationale for my choice of authenticity in science learning (900)

McGinn and Ross

Hodson ch10

Web resources

Sawyer R.K. (2009) p335

The arguments for engaging learners in authentic practices tend to focus on three benefits. First, learning to participate in a particular practice may be valuable to a population of students because they will engage in that practice outside of the learning environment. Second, engaging learners in authentic practices can provide a meaningful context that may increase their motivation to learn and may improve their learning of content by focusing their attention in ways that will enhance their ability to apply what they have learned in the future. Third, engaging learners in authentic practices can assist them in understanding the structure of knowledge, or the epistemology of the domain under study.

Engaging students in authentic practices raises a number of challenges for designers of learning experiences. Two critical pedagogical challenges are:

1. Helping students deal with the complexity of authentic practices.

2. Helping them to understand the rationale for the elements of these practices.

Two practical challenges also arise in the implementation of authentic practices. First, teachers may have never incorporated such practices into their instruction in the past or even engaged in the practices themselves. Second, teachers have limited time and resources to support the implementation of learning activities that engage students in authentic practices.

To respond to these four challenges, it is necessary to take a systemic perspective in design. It is not sufficient to alter one of the components of the learning environment - such as the tools learners use - without changing the tasks that structure the learning or the ways that learners interact with one another and with teachers.

There are three critical elements that any design must address, these are:

the activities in which the learners are engaged, that is, the curriculum

the tools and resources in the learning environment

the social structures that learners participate in, including facilitation and instruction by the teacher.

There are four design strategies that address these challenges:

1. Situate authentic practices in meaningful contexts. To provide students with a sense of purpose and to help them understand the rationale for authentic practices, the practices must be integrated into a curriculum that is motivated by goals that are meaningful to learners.

2. Reduce the complexity of authentic practices. The practices used by highly trained professionals are typically complicated and unfamiliar to non professionals. To reduce the cognitive load required to master authentic practices, learning environments should scaffold students by reducing the complexity of the practices, while retaining their key elements.

3. Make implicit elements of authentic practice explicit. During years of training, professionals internalize elements of practice and are able to execute those elements efficiently and rapidly. But if these elements remain implicit, students can never gain access to them. Learning environments should make the implicit elements of authentic practice explicit, so that they can be examined, discussed and mastered.

4. Sequence learning activities according to a developmental progression. To allow students to develop the skills and knowledge to successfully engage in authentic practices, learning environments should sequence activities so that they bridge from students prior knowledge, abilities and experiences to the authentic practices.

When learners are engaging in a new and unfamiliar activity such as science enquiry, they need support to make sense of the basic practices and types of representations involved in that activity. The guidelines and strategies in the scaffolding design framework are grouped according to three aspects of science enquiry that are complex for learners. These are sense-making, process management, and reflection and articulation.


Sense-making involves engaging in the basic practices in an activity - in this case, the basic practices of science enquiry. Sense-making involves the different types of reasoning that are necessary to engage in a practice. For example, in a science enquiry context, sense-making involves understanding and reasoning about data and other visual representations used by scientists (e.g. understanding important patterns in data visualizations). Sense-making also involves understanding disciplinary terminology (e.g. scientific language) and disciplinary strategies that are used throughout the practice (e.g. understanding the differences between different data analysis techniques). Learners need scaffolding for sense-making because they will not understand the strategies experts use in science enquiry, nor will they be able to make connections between their prior knowledge and the disciplinary representations they are being introduced to.

Designers also need to scaffold process management. Learners need support for engaging in, managing and negotiating new disciplinary processes, especially when those processes are complex and open-ended. Designers should structure complex tasks by setting boundaries for learners, by using different kinds of task decompositions to describe complex tasks to learners (break the task down into smaller steps) and by using functional modes in software to constrain the space of available activities that learners can engage in at any given time. Designers should embed guidance about the practices that learners are engaging in by describing the characteristics and rationales for those practices. Designers should design scaffolding procedures that automatically handle the non salient and routine components of a task that would distract learners from the more important aspects of the work they are doing e.g. automating less important parts of a task, facilitating the organization of work products or facilitating the navigation among the tools they are using and the activities they are performing. Designers need to scaffold reflection and articulation for those many learners who tend to avoid, or do not understand the importance of such reflective work. Designers can incorporate specific features in software to help learners plan and monitor their work. Many learning environments integrate specific tools to support planning and monitoring so that learners can not only reflect on the work they will be doing, but also keep track of their progress so they can continue to work productively. Similarly, scaffolding features can also support learners in articulating different aspects of the work they are doing, which also can aid with developing new understanding. Common approaches for supporting articulation involve the use of textual prompts (Davis 2003) and associated text areas that promt learners to articulate a question to investigate and a hypothesis to that question, or to discuss what they have learned after reading some text. Finally scaffolding features can highlight the epistemic features of the practices that learners are engaging in and the products they are creating during their work (e.g. a concept map, the periodic table of elements, argument outlines etc.). Scaffolding features can make explicit the aspects and characteristics of epistemic forms to help learners work with, construct, and understand suck knowledge structures. This in turn can help learners begin to understand the products and practices in the give domain of study (e.g. understanding different knowledge structures, such as arguments or plans in scientific enquiry).

b. Challenge being taken up in science education e.g. relationship between learning and teaching with reference to authenticity in science learning.

Leach and Scott (600) words

Course notes p38…

Brown recognizes that children's knowledge limits their ability to enter a community of practice of academic disciplines. To maintain authenticity, i.e. relevance and meaning in the community of scientists, and relevance in her student's learning, Brown locates the students back in time at a point where cultural understandings of scientific phenomena were closer to their own. She sees this as a way of maintaining authenticity in contrast to approaches where 'watering down the content' is seen to be the solution. In this respect her approach accords with aspects of the critiques of current school curricula. Her focus for learning is however disciplinary knowledge and not science for public understanding or vocational use, which is the approach that Millar and Osborne take to address the same issue.

Sawyer p466

Students in classes often do not feel a real personal desire to learn the assigned material. Computer networks can help address this problem. By connecting learners to the real world, they can connect students to real problems, creating a more authentic context for learning. When learning is situated in real world settings and focused on authentic problems that have meaning for students, then students develop a much deeper understanding of the material. The internet is particularly effective at supporting the kinds of learning that research is discovering to be most effective; project based learning (Barron et al., 1998), constructionist learning (Papert, 1991), and Learning by Design (Kolodner et al., 2003). In project- based learning, groups of students work collaboratively to solve the problem posed by a driving question. In contructionist learning, learners contruct their own knowledge while working in communities of learners who share discoveries and build on each others ideas. In Learning by Design, students share design ideas, ask for advice, constructively criticize other students solution procedures, and build on other students ideas in their own projects. All of these learning environments utilize the important role of social context, situativity, collaboration and argumentation on learning. An example is the SCOPE (Science Controversies On-line: Partnerships in Education) project, where students learn about real, contemporary scientific controversies.

Leach and Scott

Classrooms are places where individuals are actively engaged with others in attempting to understand and interpret phenomena for themselves and where social interaction in groups is seen to provide the stimulus of differing perspectives on which individuals can reflect. The teachers role is to provide the physical experiences and to encourage reflection. From this perspective, knowledge and understandings, including scientific understandings, are constructed when individuals engage socially in talk and activity about shared problems or tasks. Learners need to be given access not only to physical experiences but also to the concepts and models of conventional science. The challenge lies in helping learners appropriate these models for themselves, to appreciate their domains of applicability and, within such domains, to be able to use them. A social perspective on learning in classrooms recognizes that an important way in which novices are introduced to a community of knowledge is through discourse in the context of relevant tasks.

The discursive practices in science classrooms differ substantially from the practices of scientific argument and enquiry that take place within various communities of professional scientists; this is hardly surprising when one considers the differences between schools and the various institutional settings of science in terms of purposes and power relationships. This disjunction has been recognized and some science education researchers are experimenting with ways of organizing classrooms so as to reflect particular forms of collaborative enquiry that can support students in gradually mastering some of the norms and practices that are deemed to be characteristic of scientific communities.

If students are to adopt scientific ways of knowing, then intervention and negotiation with an authority - usually the teacher, is essential. The role of the authority figure has two important components. The first is to introduce new ideas or cultural tools where necessary and to provide the support and guidance for students to make sense of these for themselves. The other is to listen and diagnose the ways in which the instructional activities are being interpreted to inform further action. Teaching from this perspective is also a learning process for the teacher.