Sunday, February 27, 2011

Talking #5: From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able

Wesch, "From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able"

In "From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able", Wesch argues that our social and environmental guidelines for learning and gaining knowledge are, essentially, outdated when compared to the information technology available.

"As we increasingly move toward an environment of instant and infinite information, it becomes less important for students to know, memorize, or recall information, and more important for them to be able to find, sort, analyze, share, discuss, critique, and create information. They need to move from being simply knowledgeable to being knowledge-able."

Wesch believes that learning institutions have put too much focus on authority and the memorization of information.  Even for professors who choose to break the typical binds of teaching - lecture hall, notes, tests expecting word for word answers - it can be difficult. For example, the History Department requires all History 161 classes to follow the same syllabus and assignments. Whether the teacher is comfortable with that style of teaching or not, they must use the "accepted" form. This is not unusual, and happens often in all levels of schooling. Even further, Wesch points out that multiple choice tests are depended on too often - standarized testing, such as the NECAPS, have become a mandatory graduate requirement for many high schools.

This leads to a focus memorization and ignores the availability and multitude of information circa the internet. Wesch sites websites such as WikipediaYoutubeBlogger, and multiple add on websites and applications as tools that can be utilized to enhance the learning experience. However, students are not always allowed access to these websites. For my personal high school experience, students were not allowed any form of personal technology - cellphone, ipod, or laptop. Even if a laptop was brought, there was no internet connection available to utilize it. Even in college, where it is much more accepted, many teachers have specifically requested they not be used in classes. Wesch describes this as the "Crisis of Significance" - teachers are afraid that they will no longer be depended on to relay information.

However, in the end, teachers are needed for something much more important - teaching students how to absorb, understand and analyze the information - Wesch argues it is "not subjects, but subjectivities." 

I wonder if this adjustment will ever be fully made - this is a socially constructed idea of what learning should be. We have been told by society that to learn, we need to be sitting in a chair, taking notes, taking in our teacher's expertise. Will parents and teachers, with memories of their own education, accept this approach to teach the future generations?


  1. excellent synthesis of Wesch's ideas, Lexi. Have you ever had an educational experience that strives for the goals he describes?

  2. I would DEFINITELY say this class, as well as some Social Work classes. But the majority have maybe been more embracive of technology and a "new" way of learning/understanding, but still very separated from it. One experience that really stuck out to me while reading this was a professor I had recently who informed the class that on exams, she wanted to see her exact words. She didn't care if we understood it, or knew how to use it, she just wanted to see that her words were given utmost importance.

  3. That reminds me of my 10th Grade History Teacher. He dictated notes, I memorized them, and then on the test, I basically released all the info from my brain. I've always had a fantastic memory, so I actually like doing that, but that was in 1993-1994.

  4. You make some great points and I loved the question you end on! I hope you bring up these points and others you may have in class tomorrow.