Becoming Knowledge-able

The title of Michael Wesch’s presentation, “Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able”, was intriguing. I could vaguely guess what it meant: to go form knowing things, to being able to learn things. A typical tale of unlearning the rote memorization we are taught throughout our school life and…well, learning how to learn. This is a problem that I know I’ve had in college, where the learning and testing and essays are so vastly different than what we learn in grade school. And, in fact, this idea is an important factor in Wesch’s presentation.

The points that resonated with me the most are that students will say they hate school, but not that they hate learning; that school teaches kids not to be vulnerable, and that failing even once is not an option; and that we as students are meaning-seeking, but we are constantly bombarded by the media with who or what we are supposed to be. These points were certainly all things that I had experiences. Wesch’s idea was to move away from these kinds of things, and to use the internet and social media and the vast communications these create to make the classroom more open and welcoming. Students don’t see a project in class as something that gives them meaning, but using a collaborative work online, allowing for students to contribute into every part of it does give them meaning.

The way school is taught is sometimes old-fashioned or incredibly outdated. I learn about the catechistic method in my classes (a call-and-response type teaching, where the response is pre-written for you), and it feels outdated. And then I remember all my years of high school, and it feels like we haven’t really moved beyond that.

That’s what I mostly took away from Wesch’s presentation. In order to better help students find themselves and become people who can make it in the real world, there has to be a communication between not only the teacher and the students, but the world. The methods of teaching should have flexibility, be unpredictable, mandated by the students. Rote memory and the catechistic method should be left in the past; critical-thinking and analysis are what is truly important in the world.

2 thoughts on “Becoming Knowledge-able

  1. I really liked that you mentioned student’s fear of failing in this post. I agree that throughout our grade school educations, and to a large extent our education here at UMW, we are taught that it is not okay to fail. It’s far better to play it safe, do work that is acceptable but predictable, and get a good “grade.” Part of what I really like about this course is that we don’t really have to opportunity to do that because we don’t have an exact prototype or book to go off of or give us all the answers, which you also mentioned as being a problem. I think you did a really nice job interpreting Wesch’s talk and I very much agree with the points you made.

    1. Yeah. The biggest problem with having courses that are open, and a syllabus that is open to interpretation, is that we’ve been trained for so long in reading the instructions exactly, that it’s like running around lost and confused. But it’s an important thing to have, although I’m sure grade schools would be abhorred at the idea of letting kids actually think for themselves.

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