Questions for Knowledge, Development and Learning


Knowledge is not a fixed entity. It is fluid and ever-changing. With that in mind, it is beneficial as educators to get into the habit of  
asking fundamental questions about knowledge. For instance,
  • What is knowledge?
  • How is knowledge produced?
  • What knowledge do I have, and why is it different than someone else’s?
  • Who has the power to produce knowledge?
  • Who benefits from existing knowledge structures?

These are certainly not new questions, as educators, philosophers and psychologists have been asking similar questions for centuries. However, I think they are still important to address, especially in our modern age of information.

Engaging in higher order thinking skills, and asking ourselves these kinds of questions help us to understand issues pertaining to equity, access and corresponding politics. Certainly, the power hierarchies in our society have determined the type of knowledge that we deem to be the most important. We cannot deny the connections that exist between knowledge and power structures and our societies. It is from our places of privilege that we come to deem what knowledge is important and what is not. In the 21st century we also have powerful influences through social media and governments that shape knowledge creation. All too often, we have little regard for the sources of our knowledge. Still more fundamental questions to ask can include:

  • How do we define knowledge and our schools classrooms and other learning environments?
  • How do we differentiate between different forms of knowledge?
  • How do we know what types of knowledge will have more value and which ones will not?

The collaboration and co-creation of knowledge is paramount in the 21st Century. We as educators are not ‘experts’ at all of the potential knowledges that can be created via collaboration and, Information and Computing technologies. Therefore, I have even more questions about how educators can create appropriate learning environments to enable learners to be more self-determining with knowledge acquisition. For instance,

  • How can I strive to continue to make my pedagogy more interactive and strive to understand cultural experiences of the students and learners that I engage with?
  • What are the cultural ways that we come to know our world?
I think that what is important at this day in age is to recognize that the co-creation of knowledge is a cultural process. For instance, it is essential to understand First Nations, Metis, and Inuit backgrounds to incorporate Indigenous Knowledge into my Pedagogy and the curriculum. This knowledge is
especially important in see themselves reflected in the pedagogy of the classroom to increase self-esteem, but also to incorporate into other 
knowledges to create shared understandings.  It is all too easy to replicate hierarchies of power, quite unconsciously. This promotes inequity, and does not prepare learners for an increasingly globalized world that will rely on technology and Indigenous Knowledges.

However, it is nonetheless very difficult to unlearn those ingrained patterns and ideas and knowledge structures. It is important to be open as an 
educator to be flexible with knowledge structures that prevent opportunities to meeting needs of learners in the classroom. One of the ways we can do 
this is through acknowledgement of the the Seven Grandfather Teachings, specifically, the teaching that speaks of Humility. Because knowledge is 
always uncertain, we need to demonstrate humility. Because, after all, it is impossible to be an expert at knowledge. It is not fixed. It is always changing 
and evolving.

Deborah McCallum
© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written 
permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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