On Ditching the (Dangerous) Dichotomy Between Content Knowledge and Creativity

Amy Burvall, CC BY, Aug 07, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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The core of this post is based on the slogan, attributed to Picasso, "Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist." But what are the rules? Do they tell you what to paint? Of course not. The 'rules' are a syntax. When Amy Burvall writes "Virtually every piece of media we are confronted with (from pop songs to poetry, from TV shows to classic texts), makes assumptions that the audience knows certain references" she refers not to 'content knowledge' but rather to the way culture has transformed content into language, taking specific reference and turning them into syntax. It's important to understand the difference. Otherwise you'll think that memorizing Shakespeare is the same as getting an education, when the real learning consists in how to use Shakespeare - or anything else - to make your own voice heard.

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