Brief introduction to four knowns and unknowns. What they have to do in teaching.

Known knowns (Things we know that we know them)

  • We learn best by doing, we know that.

Why it is hard sometimes to see results even when you teach “learn by doing – way”. There are few reasons. One is that school is not real, in sense that even though you might have job like simulation, something still seems to be missing. I think that this missing thing is students’ motivation. There are no sense of danger making mistakes and losing your job. There is no fear that you are losing a patient. School is school, it’s not real life, most of student’s think. They are used to being in school. Almost all their life. They are not mentally prepared to work in school as much as we would like. Think about your first days at work, you are 100% focused (and maybe more stressed and more nervous). Think about you after one year. Not so focused maybe anymore. Think 10 years. Then think how much you are willing to re-learn or educate yourself more and be focused every day. It isn’t that easy. It takes more mental preparation to be that focused and have high energy.

Teaching by simulation is still the best way. That’s the part where important teaching comes in, that dreaded word teaching. Teaching in sense that you learn your ropes with guidance of teacher and have relatively safe environment to succeed and make mistakes. Teachers guidance is super important in this point to give advice and feedback and prepare students for future. I think we teachers know that and know that we know that.

 

Things we know that we don’t know them

  • Why are honeybees dying? We know that they are dying, but we don’t know why.

Let’s say our student works at shop. Shop sells different items there, clothes, candies, coffee etc. When he comes to work first time, what he does not know, but needs to know? Prices of course. What else? How to make coffee, how to use cash register, where shops clothes are coming from, what material they are, and so on. We have to know what our student does not know so he or she can be better at his job. We teachers as our students, must know our unknowns. Let’s think about that simulation again. Can we simulate everything? Off course not. Can we teach or prepare them for everything? Off course not. How we prepare our students to things that can’t be simulated, like real life situations where you might feel anxiety or stress. At least to my knowledge best way is to prepare them mentally and have them practice in job like situation as much as possible, so that they build confidence in their abilities and most likely will stress less at work and be better workers.

 

Unknown unknowns

  • World can explode tomorrow (we did have no clue and did not think it as possibility)

Hardest part to write and think about. How to think unknown unknowns? There might be even better ways to learn and teach. Maybe we don’t know yet that our brains can learn faster and more efficiently, but we have no clue about it. Something completely unknown thing. These are things that comes completely from unknown to us. Do we have to teach it? How we teach? Can we teach it, if by definition, we do not know what kind of situations are coming at us? I think if you are mentally strong it’s easier to handle those kind of things, and humans are very good at adapting to different situations. We can prepare our students to be more mentally strong and help them to be strong in hard situations. That’s about it, that we can do.

 

Unknown knowns

  • The things that we know but are unaware of knowing.

Most interesting of all maybe. In Slavoj Zizek’s words: “these are things that exist and have been influencing our life and our approach to reality, but we are unaware of knowing them, or we do not realize their value, or worst we refuse to acknowledge knowing them”. Like Freudian unconscious. How aware are we in our teaching methods? We have read and read about good teaching ways, but how much our past life experience affects us? Do we force some kind of ideology in to our pupils? Ideology and customs that were taught to us and we are influenced by them (unknowingly). Like for example how to behave in different social situations, who to listen, who to not, etc. How we even define ideology today? Believe yourself, do what you want, we are all individuals, you can do anything in your life. etc. How much that kind of attitude we pour in to our students? Those attributes sound good in principle, but democracy to Iraq sounded good too.

 

Written by Samppa Toivonen

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