Scardamalia & Bereiter on “Knowledge Building”

Scardamalia & Bereiter argue that we now live in knowledge societies.  Therefore, it is critical that education “enculturate students into the knowledge-creating civilization” (p. 97).  This requires “a shift from treating students as learners and inquirers to treating them as members of a knowledge building community” (p. 98).  The authors feel that not only the older “knowledge transmission” view of education misses the point, but so do newer constructivist views.  Instead, they argue for a “developmentalist” view.  They list six themes that underlie a shift from treating students as learners and inquirers to treating them as members of a knowledge building community:

  1. Knowledge advancement as a community rather than individual achievement
  2. Knowledge advancement as idea improvement rather than as
  3. Knowledge of in contrast to knowledge about
  4. Discourse as collaborative problem solving rather than as argumentation
  5. Constructive use of authoritative information
  6. Understanding as an emergent

In regards to conversation: “Conversation” isn’t itself defined, but “discourse” is discussed as one of the six themes that underlie a shift to treating students as members of a knowledge building community: “Discourse as collaborative problem solving rather than as argumentation” (p. 98).  “Knowledge-building discourse, as we conceive of it, is discourse whose aim is progress in the state of knowledge: idea improvement” (p. 102).  It entails: a commitment to progress; a commitment to seek common understanding; and a commitment to expand the base of accepted facts. Knowledge-building discourse is not about argumentation and debate, which the authors think are over-emphasized in our schools today.

There is overlap between some of these ideas and those of “Accountable Talk,” it seems to me, though Accountable Talk might argue that accountability to knowledge is progress towards true or warranted belief, something that Scardamalia & Bereiter eschew.

References

Scardamalia, M. & Bereiter, C.  (2006). Knowledge Building: Theory, Pedagogy, & Technology.” The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences.  ed.*** (pp. 97-115).

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