I just read Stephen’s paper (An Introduction on Connective Knowledge). An extensive text about the building blocks of connective knowledge. How knowledge exists and how it is influenced by us as human beings in a dynamic world. Throughout the reading I more and more got the feeling that not only knowledge but everything is “connected”. It’s like nature, everything influences everything else. Everything is a part of something bigger than itself. If one would disconnect itself from nature, from society around him, from people, etc. most of the time, things will end up badly. We are part of something bigger, and we do affect everything around us.
Knowledge works in the same way. We can learn things but our interpretation of them influence our perspective. Just as other people interpret things will influence your own perspective. You may agree, or not, but the interaction with different opinions changed your knowledge. It affected it in a way that the new knowledge is confirmed or disproven, but changed. Knowledge is affected by a networked structure and because we are human and therefor driven by nature to be “networked” with each other, knowledge will always be something dynamic.
So, when people (students) learn, it is best to do so according to these “standards”:
- Diversity – did they connect with a wide variety of sources to make their own conclusion?
- Autonomy – did they reach a conclusion according to their own knowledge, values and decisions?
- Interactivity – did they interact with each other, so that their opinion is founded?
- Openness – did it happen in an open environment, so that their opinion is to be heard and interacted with by others?
If learners can work with these standards a deeper level of knowledge is formed. Things will be remembered better, they will become “smarter” students. As I have mentioned in other posts, your interaction with sources, with knowledge, is crucial in gaining a greater insight. By using connective knowledge we encourage deeper learning. And since everything else is connected too, we are using the “natural” way of learning. Chaos is all around us. It penetrates everything that is, but by learning connectively one can make sense of it all. Not like the old way, by structuring everything, placing all things, thoughts and interpretations in different segments and labeling them all, but by absorbing different views and interpreting it all into a vision on how it could interact. Learning to see the connections, without making them into a straight line is probably the most difficult thing to do for us humans. Accepting the chaos and interpreting it has more value, results in deeper learning, than arranging everything into a system of uniformity.
Stephen ends with these beautiful words: “A community that limits its diversity, that becomes closed, is as liable to error as a person who refuses to look around, refuses to take measure. A person, exposed only to limited points of view, with limited opportunities to interact, will be similarly bereft of insight. Freedom begins with living free, in sharing freely, in celebrating each other, and in letting others, too, to live free. Freedom begins when we understand of our own biases and our own prejudices; by embracing autonomy and diversity, interaction and openness, we break through the darkness, into the light.”