Have ever asked yourself what is the main goal of “Knowledge Construction? ”
Is it letting students memorize the biggest lot of information possible?
Is it transferring the subject matter in a clear way so that students understand the material correctly?
Is it facilitating education and preparing students to get high grades on their tests?
Or is it simply: “All, Some or …. None of the above? ”
Whenever we think about teachers, we associate them with “knowledge construction”. We all went to schools and what we remember the most is “Exam Time! ” That time when we had to pour everything we learned on our answer sheets in order to pass to a higher grade. When I became a teacher, all I cared about was my students’ understanding of the material, memorization of the information so that they pass with flying grades. However, one day, I realized that what I was doing is …. Completely awkward!
Facilitating the transfer of information from the textbook to the students’ minds is not the main goal of knowledge construction. Building knowledge through fixed applications and exercises that are taught in the same way to all the students in the class turned out not to be the perfect way that builds students’ knowledge.
What are the three golden tips that we must know about “Knowledge Construction”?
Golden tip #1: Constructing Knowledge vs. Recycling Knowledge
Students only build their knowledge when:
They search for the ideas themselves, collect information, interpret, analyze and evaluate them in order to refine and create the appropriate needed material.
They are able to reformulate their end product (created by the collection of practiced skills and the inferred understandings) in a specific sequence they choose in order to present the information in a constructive manner.
They are able to use this final product as a basis to be applied in new situations and problems.
In other words, in order to build their knowledge, students must not recycle the information; they must plan and execute its construction! Let your students design their own construction procedure and enjoy the amazing results.
Golden tip #2: Critical Thinking vs. Memorization
Memorization is good but it does not provide our kids with critical thinking skills. These higher levels of reasoning skills are the skills needed in their future out there in the work force! Information is now being available everywhere on the internet, it only takes one “mouse click” to gather tons of information, but it surely takes more than a “mouse click” to compare this information, relate the ideas and explore the relationships needed so that this information be integrated and productively used at work! Every day is a chance to face a new situation, a new problem and a new challenge which will not be solved only by the WHAT but also by the WHY and HOW! Let your students practice and develop these skills when constructing their knowledge because they are the perfect tools for a better mind.
Golden tip #3: Inter-discipline vs. One Discipline
It is always good to focus on specific learning objectives of the material you teach. But think of what “language skills” have to say when it comes to expressing your scientific ideas for example. I have always had problems with students who love science and cannot express themselves linguistically. Learning science in a foreign language made their life difficult when studying and taking tests in science. However, when I started collaborating with other teachers and especially the English language teacher, I could see a big change in the performance of students in my subject matter. Whenever I prepare nowadays a lesson, I think of how the other subject areas can be integrated appropriately in the lesson to create a win-win situation.
Realizing all the differences between constructing knowledge and recycling Knowledge, between critical thinking and memorization, and between inter-discipline domains and one discipline domain lead me revolt and apply a new strategy in my class; and that revolt strategy was called the “Warak Warak Method“!
Youssr Chediac is a biology teacher and coordinator of Biology for the secondary classes at the Gebran Andrawos Tweini Public School in Beirut, Lebanon. She started teaching in1996, and has now taught all levels from the 4th grade to grades 12 (all sections). Her passion is teaching and engaging her students whether it is in the classroom or as part of their extracurricular activities focusing on environmental themes with her peers.