“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”
Albert Einstein (attributed)
My understanding of knowledge is being severely challenged and hopefully adjusted…
When I started school (half a century ago!), students were perceived to be “learning” if the class was quiet – everyone sat at their own desks, with textbook and notebook, while the teacher imparted his wisdom to the group or individual students, walking up and down between neatly arranged rows of desks. Knowledge came from teachers and books…
Now it seems that Brown, Collins and Duguid (1989) have understood all along that knowledge has little worth in isolation, by itself. They reason that activity and situations are integral to cognition and learning. Learning that is embedded in activity and that makes deliberate use of social and physical contexts facilitate understanding and cognition (p. 32).
Fenwick and Edwards (2010) argue that knowing is “situated, embodied and distributed” (p. 24). Knowing cannot be separated from doing, is actively bound to social, cultural and physical contexts, is specific to a particular situation, has a tangible visible form, is not isolated, but distributed – shared, spread over an area!
I now understand that an object of knowledge “is held together by a network of connections that must be continually performed to make knowledge visible and alive” (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010, p. 24). I think this is what Siemens (2006) calls “connective knowledge” (p. 3). Siemens actually makes me feel better about my misconceptions, he says knowledge has changed – from categorisation and hierarchies, to networks and ecologies. He reasons that our educational spaces and structures need to change accordingly (p. v).
How do we do this? How do I do this in our middle school library?
Siemens suggests we do this in the structures we create to hold our knowledge, the spaces where we dialogue about and enact our knowledge, and the tools we use to disseminate this knowledge (p. 4). There is so much more to learn, but on this Monday morning I will go forth and facilitate knowledge creation and dissemination in a structure (our library with its resources), and space (physical and virtually available) with appropriate tools available, where students can have dialogue, create and share knowledge.
Albert Einstein Quotes. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved September 10, 2017, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins121678.html
Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational researcher, 18(1), 32-42.
Fenwick, T., & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor-network theory in education. Routledge.
Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge. Lulu. com.