Archive for October, 2013

October 27, 2013

Transfer of Learning

A quick, Sunday post.

“Transfer of learning occurs when learning in one context enhances a related performance in ANOTHER context. “ (David N. Perkins, Harvard Graduate School of Education)

Points:
1. Transfer is not ordinary learning.
Although “learning” as a psychological phenomenon does embed a minimal change (cognitively speaking) it differs from “transfer” in that it does not extend beyond its original context. Example: a student may show certain grammar skills on the English test (ordinary learning) but not in everyday speech (the hoped-for transfer). The student may solve the problems at the end of the chapter (ordinary learning) but not similar problems when they occur mixed with others at the end of the course (the hoped-for transfer).

2. Near versus far transfer.
Near transfer refers to transfer between very similar contexts. Example: in an exam the student solves similar types of problems s/he has previously practiced.
Far transfer implies application of knowledge and skills to problems or domains that seem remote (e.g. math and art, math and architecture etc.).

October 20, 2013

Who Is Afraid of Knowledge?

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” 

There. I said it. And yes, I know, “progressive” educators will quickly dismiss this as being an “elitist”, “traditionalist” or whatever you want to call it, claim. My questions…

Have you ever met a creative person or a critical thinker who did not possess knowledge? I haven’t. Pseudo-experts abound. On TV, in newspapers, online.

Do you think any of the geniuses that are used as icons in discourses about creativity was an ignorant? Read their biographies. They had vast knowledge not only in their domain but also in others.

Have you ever met people who seemed to be experts in a topic or field just to realize later in the conversation (or interaction) that they only had surface knowledge and the dialogue was deviated to hide these gaps? And you couldn’t further debate or build on an idea *because* they lacked knowledge you had assumed they had? I have met a lot of them. Even educators – who had no idea who Vygotsky, Dewey, Pestalozzi, Freire were, or what children’s stages of psychological development are. And I am not saying this in a condescending tone – but as an observation. The reasons behind this ignorance are diverse and many are understandable (one being irrelevant professional development forced upon teachers).

Back to my statement:

Knowledge of facts is critical to building understanding. In-depth understanding.