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

Tom Barrett

Tom is a writer, speaker and consultant. He has been sharing his thoughts on teaching, learning, curiosity and creativity on this blog for over 10 years. Drinking coffee and writing would be his idea of a perfect day.

Latest posts by Tom Barrett (see all)

Other articles you might enjoy

Leave a Reply

6 Comments on "The states of knowing and not knowing and the really interesting bits in between"

Notify of
avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
trackback

[…] to remain in that state, often characterised by asking questions, for as long as you can. Technology and habits cause us to jump out of this inquiry/problem finding state all too quickly. That in […]

trackback

[…] 2014 post ‘The states of knowing and not knowing and the really interesting bits in between‘ recounts a powerful conversation between a professor and his son, showing how the use of […]

trackback

[…] this blog post about the states of knowing and not knowing and all the interesting bits in […]

trackback

[…] providing more opportunities for further questions and discovery. If questions start everything a prolonged state of uncertainty maintains and deepens our thinking, as John Dewey […]

trackback

[…] The states of knowing and not knowing and the really interesting bits in between | The Curious Creat… […]

Rene
Guest
Rene
2 years 5 months ago

Interesting point! Technology has made life so easy…. How to maintain children’s curiosity

wpDiscuz