Concerning David Didau’s position re. the place of knowledge in education

David Didau states describes his position regarding knowledge in the curriculum as follows:

  1. Knowledge is both what we thing with and about.
  2. We cannot think with or about something we don’t know.
  3. The more we know about something, the more sophisticated our thinking.

Whilst I agree with what he says heuristically, I think David Didau could make his position stronger:

  1. Perhaps with the exception of 3, I am unsure as to how one might pin down the meaning of the propositions. Any criteria of correctness would be vague and arguable – and probably unfalsifiable.
  2. The main cause of this vagueness is the fact that his current formulation relies on a reification of knowledge. (It’s a bit of an ‘I’ve lost my bearings’—‘where did you leave them?’ situation.) I don’t think this is necessary.
  3. Instead, I would recommend defining knowledge adverbially, which then changes the question subtly but importantly: What does it mean to do something knowledgeably (or indeed critically)? Knowledge is manifest in our actions, and thus, there would certainly be some reference to the ability to recall relevant ‘facts’ here. ‘One could not describe a student as speaking knowledgeably/critically about Y if they did not appear to know X.

(I’d recommend reading Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, esp. §149)


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