Knowledge and Understanding


Knowledge and Understanding: The question, ‘What should be taught to the young’? derives from a deeper question, namely, What aims are wo...

Knowledge and Understanding:

The question, ‘What should be taught to the young’? derives from a deeper question, namely, What aims are worth pursuing in education? The answer is a vision of the capabilities and values that every individual must have and a socio-political and cultural vision for society. This is not a single aim, but a set of aims. So also the content selected seeks to do justice to the entire set of aims; it has to be comprehensive and balanced. The curriculum needs to provide experiences that build the knowledge base through a progressive introduction to the capabilities of thinking rationally, to understand the world through various disciplines, foster aesthetic appreciation and sensitivity towards others, to work and to participate in economic processes. This section discusses the nature and forms of knowledge and understanding as necessary elements terrains for making informed curricular choices and approaches to content.

Knowledge can be conceived as experience organised through language into patterns of thought (or structures of concepts), thus creating meaning, which in turn helps us understand the world we live in. It can also be conceived of as patterns of activity, or physical dexterity with thought, contributing to acting in the world, and the creating and making of things. Human beings over time have evolved many bodies of knowledge,which include a repertoire of ways of thinking, of feeling and of doing things, and constructing more knowledge. All children have to re-create a significant part of this wealth for themselves, as this constitutes the basis for further thinking and for acting appropriately in this world. It is also important to learn to participate in the very process of knowledge creation, meaning making and human action, i.e. work. Conceiving knowledge in this broad sense directs us to the importance of examining knowledge in terms of not only the ‘product’, but also the underlying principles of how it is created, how it is organised, who accesses it, and what it is used for. It suggests that in the curriculum, there must be as much focus on the process of learning, on how learners engage with and reconstruct knowledge, as on the content of what is learnt.

If, on the other hand, knowledge is regarded as a finished product, then it is organised in the form of information to be ‘transferred’ to the child’s mind. Education would concern itself with maintaining and transmitting this store - house of human knowledge. In this view of knowledge, the learner is conceived of as a passive receiver, while in the former there is a dynamic engagement with the world through observing, feeling, reflecting, acting, and sharing.

The curriculum is a plan to develop capabilities that are likely to help achieve the chosen educational aims. The range of human capabilities is very wide, and through education we cannot develop them all. The concern is therefore with those that are necessary and significant in relation to our aims, which offer potential for further development, and for which we have some pedagogic knowledge.


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CLEAR CTET: Knowledge and Understanding
Knowledge and Understanding
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