Who knows …is the Acquisition of Knowledge Really Knowing?

I once felt certain that the acquisition of knowledge was a sequential continuum and that to be a good teacher all I needed to do was to carefully deconstruct what knowledge was required, sequence and deliver the content as empirical truths in manageable chunks. I would plan and provide activities that reinforced that knowledge, add a few ticks, revise the crosses and send the students off with a smile.

This is a simplistic version, but essentially that was how I used to teach. I worked really hard to provide pretty worksheets, create reusable work cards and a variety of group learning games. I was a dedicated and totally didactic committed knowledge educator and the personal agency of my learners was low.

I began my learning journey towards a more sophisticated academic view of learning when I returned to post graduate studies after fifteen years in the classroom.  This totally unsettled my original, limited understanding of the science of education – the focused ways of coming to know and how this can be translated into a balanced knowledge repertoire . My studies have lead me to explore the learning theories of researchers such as Vygotsky, Jonassen, Gardner, Bloom and Anderson and New Learning theory as described by Kalantzis and Cope . The diagrammatic concept of ‘crosswalks’ of Kalantzis and Cope have assisted enable me to visualize connections and parallels between these theories.

Each time I investigated a new theory it unsettled my knowledge, forced me to critically reflect on my performance, question my assumptions and rationalisations (Brookfield,1995) and adjust my expectations of more divergent outcomes. I assimilated new ways working and ways of framing and reframing questions to reconsider what the students know and what they are learning.

I realized that teaching is not a one-way process and I began to see my role as that of a coach and mentor who facilitates learning experiences that promote  21st Century skills of creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving.

multimodalAfter exploring the ideas of knowing , my future energies will be focused on developing a balanced approach to the building of a knowledge repertoire of my students using the strengths of knowledge relativism and committed knowledge. I will concentrate on extending their ways of knowing to include applying appropriately and creatively, experiencing the known and the new, conceptualising by naming and theory and analysing functionally and critically.



A strong knowledge repertoire empowers the learner to make appropriate knowledge making choices according to the particular learning context and their interests and needs and allows them to become insightful and powerful learners with a strong sense of personal agency. I am uncertain if my knowledge could become settled again but my new powers of critical reflective thinking will ensure I do not become complacent



Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Annual review of psychology52(1), 1-26.

Gardner, H., & Hatch, T. (1989). Educational implications of the theory of multiple intelligences. Educational researcher18(8), 4-10.

Kalantzis, M., & Cope, B. (2012). New learning: Elements of a science of education. Cambridge University Press.

Brookfield, S. D. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Loughran, J. J. (1997). An introduction to purpose, passion and pedagogy.

Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Schön, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions.

San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Smyth, W. J. (1992). Teachers’ work and the politics of reflection. American Educational Research Journal, 29(2),





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