Understanding requires ideas to have context¶
It isn't enough to see or hear about a new concept in order to understand it. Instead, the concept needs to be actively explored. The learner should find analogies, find connections to existing knowledge, work through the implications of the new idea, and so on. The more thoroughly the idea is explored, the deeper the understanding will become.
Understanding things within their context is a core idea within Constructivism. Understanding needs active learner engagement. Together, this means that Constructivist teachers adopt a support role.
Both the lack of context and the lack of engagement are reasons why transmissionism doesn't work
If you want to really understand an idea, you have to grapple with it.
You can’t just read something, listen to a lecture, or hear a notion in a conversation. You’ve got to wonder: where does this apply and where does it not? What are the implications? What are the assumptions? Whose view is represented here? What does this refute? etc
- Prefer notes that describe a relationship
- According to educational constructivism, understanding requires ideas to have context. This is so the context forms relationships between things you know already and the new subject. Building notes describing these relationships explicitly will focus the process and engage you with the task - understanding needs active learner engagement.
- Transmissionism is generally believed to be incorrect. Understanding requires ideas to have context, and Understanding needs active learner engagement
- An educational philosophy. The idea that a learner 'builds' understanding of a new concept by exploring it, examining it and connecting it to their existing understanding.
- Find a way to collect contextual backlinks in your notes
- On top of making your collection of notes easier to understand (Understanding requires ideas to have context), it enables some useful habits such as letting 'noun' notes collect backlinks for a while.
- Let 'noun' notes collect backlinks for a while
- You don't ever need to manually fill these noun notes in if the need never comes up, but if you do end up writing something you won't be starting with a blank page. You'll be surrounded by context for no extra cost, and Understanding requires ideas to have context
- Iterate on complex ideas to find simplicity
- You can often create something concrete to understand an idea more fully. This is a good start for somewhere to iterate from. By iterating on an idea, you provide two things that are necessary for understanding. Understanding requires ideas to have context and needs active learner engagement.
- Notes should be densely linked
- When writing permanent zettelkasten-style notes then composing notes is done by making links between them. Creating relationships between ideas builds context, and understanding requires an idea to have context.
- Practice metacognition
- Understanding requires ideas to have context, and observing your thoughts will bring that context over time. Because of this, metacognition can help you learn how to learn effectively.
- Start notes with context
- This habit gets you to contextualise the information you're writing about, and understanding requires ideas to have context. This comes back to help even further when you revisit your note later - context will help you access the associations you need to think about the subject clearly.
- Title notes imperatively or declaratively
- Where a note describes a relationship, the title should reflect this by being declarative. Declarative titles apply pressure for you to strongly back up your claim, and when titled well should immediately suggest the content of the note. An example: Understanding requires ideas to have context.