Opening up thinking about education today for tomorrow - Imagining possibilities and solutions

Friday, November 02, 2007

From Knowing to Doing

Recently I was working with a group of teachers who had formed a learning network with a focus on assessment.

In the discussions around what they had learnt from their involvement a theme seemed to be emerging:

We know what the research is telling us about assessment
for learning, feedback, strategic questioning and teaching for deep understanding. We know we need to do something. However, the doing is hard.
This knowing-doing gap is hard to bridge. Pfeffer and Sutton address this issue from a corporate perspective in their book, The Knowing-Doing Gap. In the book they state that, “Knowledge that is implemented is much more likely to be acquired from learning by doing.” (p.6)

Underpinning the doing is the need to operate from a philosophical base that guides not only what is done but why it is done. The development of philosophical inquiry and a shift away from pragmatism in schools may assist in the doing and develop deeper professional understandings.

Some other key points for consideration in bridging the Knowing-Doing Gap in schools and school systems include:
  • Overcoming obstacles rather than identifying why it can’t be done – A can do approach;
  • Not substituting memory for thinking – there can be tendency to fall back on the default position of how things have been done in the past meaning that things often are not really thought through;
  • The need for cognitive closure (Pffefer and Sutton, p. 88) by bringing assumptions to the surface, challenging the sacred cows and providing opportunities to recreate;
  • Encouraging courageous behaviour (Pffefer and Sutton, p. 107) – what I would call responsible risk taking;
  • Recognising that there is no learning without error (Pfeffer and Sutton, 131) – my belief that it is possible to fail forward to success.

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