Content-type: text/html Downes.ca ~ Stephen's Web ~ The three best arguments against a knowledge rich curriculum, (and why I think they’re wrong).

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

The third of the three arguments is a straw man and I'll set it aside. The remaining two are as follows:

  • Children need skills, not knowledge.
  • Enquiry based learning is a more effective, motivating and natural way for children to learn.

Jon Hutchinson's response to these is as follows:

  • Skills are hugely domain specific; and rely on large amounts of foundational knowledge.
  • We don't know what it is we don't know, and so new information is best taught explicitly.

Neither is a good response, in my view. The first rests on the presumption that different knowledge domains are like silos, and we know this isn't true; there's a lot of cross-over between them, both explicit (like mathematics) and metaphorical (like user interfaces), so skills in fact transfer easily across domains. In the case of the second, the conclusion doesn't follow - even if it is true that we don't know what we don't know, it doesn't follow that we must be taught explicitly - we can also learn from examples, demonstrations, hints, brainstorming and interaction, and trial and error, to name a few.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
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