The states of knowing and not knowing and the really interesting bits in between

Read, Read, Read

Last year I was attending a conference in Boston, US and was lucky enough to listen to Alec Couros, a Professor of Educational Technology and Media at the Faculty of Ed., University of Regina.

He described a time in a supermarket when his 5 year old son asked whether bananas on a tree grew with their tips facing up or facing down. I will let Alec describe what happened next and how he reacted to his son’s question:

“I didn’t actually know off-hand. But, being the connected father I am, I pulled out my iPhone, Googled it, and in less than 30 seconds, we were looking at photos of banana plants and we no longer had to wonder.

*We no longer had to wonder.*

I did that entirely wrong. At the very least, I could have asked my boy, “Well, which do you think son?” perhaps followed by “So, why do you think that?” But I didn’t. And because I didn’t, I messed up a great learning opportunity.”

During his talk Alec outlined how the states of “knowing” and “not knowing” are drawn together by the pervasive nature of technology.

I believe that in a time when technology provides unprecedented access to knowledge we need to be exploring the really interesting bits in between. Spending longer between posing a question / a state of wonder and the clarification of new or affirming knowledge.

We need more learning designed to unflinchingly explore the unknown, enquiry state and for much longer.

The brevity of not knowing, which Alec describes, often short circuits our opportunities for enquiry, for exploring and revealing our existing knowledge and perhaps discovering new and better ways to find things out.

It is the discerning application of technology in these instances that we should be developing with our students. To know when to ponder, mull and cogitate, working out something with others, and when to simply close the gap, “Google it” and do something with that new knowledge.

Making this type of choice will be the key to constructing knowledge in the future, alongside retaining an enduring curiosity for the world and what it is like to not know.

Pic Read, read, read. by cuellar

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