Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Boltzmann, Witchenstien, Polanyi... Oh My!
During my noon hour today, I had the opportunity to join 40 CCK08 participants in what turned out to be an audio tutorial on "Rethinking epistemology: Connective knowledge". Although complex language was used to explain competing views , I found a path to follow - call it a yellow brick road of sorts.
While what is 'true' continues to move around in my mind, one pathway is being reinforced: the idea that learning has to be connected to an individual's experience, in order to gain traction.
One might think that the disagreements in our individual responses to the theory of connectivism might be due to the fact we've read different things, or that we've read things differently; but I now suspect that our diverse understandings are directly the result of our varied 'prior experiences'. After all, we have to 'connect' these new ideas, to existing understandings.
Stephen Downes brought this home for me when he broke down what at first seemed to be a straightforward question: "What is the capital of France?".
The number of connections necessary to make meaning of this question, gave me great pause. In order to respond with understanding, concepts of physical geography, cartography, politics, civics and more, would have to be considered. The thought struck me that the individuals in any classroom, are experiencing unique learning experiences, no matter the strategies being employed. Indeed, it may well be impossible for everyone in a room to make identical connections
The road became an even brighter shade of yellow with Dave Cormier's clarification of Rhizomatic Education. Hearing that "Learners need for the curriculum to arise from the group, in order to develop literacies and to make their own knowledge, and adapt to the world as it will be." My neurons made the 'connection' to the Reggio Emilia educational approach (which I first read about in Howard Gardner's "Frames of Mind"). It was the first time since the course began, that I was able to connect a concept from this course, to a concrete classroom application!
Just as the children in Reggio Emilia classes must have opportunities to explore relationships with fellow students and with a choice of materials, so too must participants in this course be provided with the freedom to explore areas of personal interest, and to make connections with fellow course participants.
Whether the 'connections' we're making are leading us to Oz or to Paris, at least we're having a say in which paths to take, and with which colleagues to link arms and ideas.
Photo Credit: Valerie