“Knowledge transfer” is an illusion 6

Explaining which is also known as KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER is a content-driven approach which does not focus on the process of learning, and is probably only directed at achieving the first three cognitive levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, namely knowing, understanding and applying.
Little or no room is left for in-depth application of what was learned and the chances of learners progressing to the higher levels of insightful thinking remain slim. Learners remain passive receivers of pre-ordained truths (definitions, rules, laws); their thinking skills are not nurtured to allow them to question the pre-ordained truths, and it is questionable whether learning is enjoyable.
Learners in behavioristic classrooms are expected to sit, listen and follow the lecturing stimuli, which teachers reinforce by explaining it repeatedly and by using different examples. Learners who meet the pre-set learning objectives pass the course or academic year as a reward, and learners’ successes are measured in terms of how well they achieve and meet the curriculum requirements, which mainly focus on mastering content.
Such teachers are interested in learners’ final achievements and scores and not so much in their learning journey. Despite all the efforts of teachers to explain content to learners and to reinforce the content through rehearsal, memorizing of content does not necessarily lead to the development of higher-order skills, such as critical and creative thinking that would engage learners in a deeper understanding of the content. In addition, learners tend to forget more than they can recall, when memorizing content.
Curriculum-led, behavioristic teachers believe that learning is about assimilation of information. They believe in the traditional saying that ‘knowledge is power’, and therefore see their main task as sharing their knowledge, providing answers, instead of enabling learners to work out answers for themselves. This approach to teaching could result in both teachers and learners believing that thinking skills will start emerging during employment.
To teach for critical thinking, teachers need to understand how Bloom’s taxonomy could guide teaching, learning and thinking in the classroom in order to move away from a curriculum-led, content-driven approach to teaching that often only focuses on the lower levels of thinking (knowledge, comprehension and application).
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6 thoughts on ““Knowledge transfer” is an illusion

  • Cas Olivier Post author

    Hi Hannes,

    So called ‘deep learning’ is the only type/kind of learning. This is if you define learning as thinking and problem-solving.

    If one defines learning as ‘memorising other people’s knowledge, then learning means stagnating. Let me explain myself.

    Not progessing/moving means going backwards as other people are passing you as they progress and leave you behind.

    This is exactly what educationist did to the education system. I is common knowledge that we are last or second last on the list of countries when it comes to education.

    This is also not because they are getting better and better, but because we keep being gatvas and getting worse and worse.

    Nothing will change, until each and every provider and trainer changes.

    I think providers don’t care a dam about the country ony about their income.

    I wait for the day learners and parents will realize this and demanding thinking skills instead of spoonfeeding.

  • Hannes Nel

    Hello Cas, Very interesting article. One of my lecturers is doing a Master’s degree in deep learning. I believe he should be interested in your arguments. I will bring the article to his attention and then it will be up to him to contact you for further discussions or not.

  • Cas Olivier Post author

    Sylvia, good for you picking this up.

    About 12 years ago I was commisioned to train a number of forklift drivers as assessors. Althought my material at that point in time was already learner-centred, I as facilitator depended on my slide show.

    Meeting my learners I realised that they will be killed by PowerPoint. I weighed my options and realised they are not going to follow the slide show and will not be able to complete their portfolios. I did not even bother to take out my data projector.

    I geared myself into full fledged learner-centred teaching. Can tell you I did a lot of footwork to make it work as my course was based on Mr PowerPoint.

    Long story short, I got them to teach me the specific outcomes of the assessor unit standard, they taught me about assessment methods and 14 odd assessment principles. This was possible because of the format of my material.

    Instead of me explaining, they had chances unraveling their portfolios, kind of what goes where and why. Today they are moderators. Guys with max std 7.

    This amazed me, and I did a lot of thinking and realised that given the opportunity anyone is able to gear into au natural learning.

    What you stating i.e. “Identifying problems, solving practical problems for themselves, working together as a community – all seem highly relevant abilities.” is what I claim making my appoach workable. This is exacty what Great Teaching is abut. Learners don’t have to attend study and memorising courses to enable them to recall. I don’t have to make use of mnemonics or rhymes to enable them to recall facts. I dont put up a show, learners have to put up the show.

    My answer to your first question is not that they are better equiped, but the fact that they are equally equiped as any other learner. This opens learning doors for anyone. We have it in our DNA. Yes your are correct, those you are talking about are kind of forced to use it in their everyday lives. I agree, they are more experienced in solving problems and it does come easier in some cases.

    Your question: what do we need to know and be able to do to survive that future?   

    We need to move from ‘transfering knowlede’ or as I see some providers advertise: ‘Skills transfer’ to enabling learners to think.

    I have heard many teachers saying to their learner: “Think”. This normally results in eyes rolling upwards, scratching of the head and neck, but very seldomly in a solution.

    If trainers are not understanding what learning is, how can they teach? Trainers need to be on top of thinking skills and know how to enable learners to employ tools for a specific context.

    I am only scratching the surface. Look at my thinking toolbox: Where 68 au natural ways of thinking has open access to 1369 thinking skills, which in in turn give human beings potentially access to infinity.http://www.learningdesigns.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Thinking-toolbox.pdf

    Next is that learning material should be changed to the learner-centred format.

    I hope I interpreted your questions and statements correct.

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    Cas, thank you for such an excellent topic, and thank you Charles for adding a valuable insight.  As I read both your  contributions, something occurs to me that may be counter-intuitive. So I would really appreciate your insight – positive or negative to my suggestion.

    In a rapidly-changing world, the formal taught and learned curriculum becomes redundant almost before the exams are written, particularly in the areas of science, astro-physics being just one of those fast-moving areas.  

    So might it be possible that people on the African continent, who have not all had the benefit of a formal – mainly western – education, but have had to work out how to survive, have a family, and take care of those they love – will in fact be better served in this fast-changing environment? 

    Identifying problems, solving practical problems for themselves, working together as a community – all seem highly relevant abilities.

    I have been thinking that prior to the industrial revolution people looked after themselves, created shelters, grew or found food, and manufactured what they needed for themselves.  It occurs to me that we are going back to that time – but in a different way – fewer formal employment openings & the need for individuals to make their own survival.  Your contributions feed into that question: – what do we need to know and be able to do to survive that future?   

  • Cas Olivier Post author

    Charles, your question: What impact do these suggestions have on the South African education and training infrastructure and our role in it? 

    My answer:  Everything, as these sugestions are the only rudders which can save the the education ship from the turmoil of the tsunami and total chaos.

    To provide some true north to your suggestions I am asking the following questions:

    1. What is the quality of the material that material developers are marketing here on Skills-Universe?
    2. Can providers truely say their materials do not consist of pages and pages of content?
    3. Those providing ‘facilitator’ courses; if one takes away the elements fousing on ‘skills transfer’ e.g. ways of ‘transfering’ skills to auditory, visual and kinesthetic ‘learners’, how to format content for left and right brain knowledge ‘absorbsion’, and how to present and other such elements, WHAT IS THEN THE CONTENT OF THEIR COURSES?
    4. Do the ‘facilitator’ courses address the thinking skills of leaners? If so, which thinking skills? If not, what are their learners paying for because content is not worth paying for.
    5. If programme developers keep on selling content-driven material and not learner-centred material, how do they contribute to uplifting education?
    6. To what extend is Skills-Universe party to uplifting teaching standards?
  • Charles Dey

    Many thanks for your thoughts Cas. All the best to those in Skills Universe for what promises to be a most interesting year, to say the least.

    Firstly, a couple of quotes in context:

    “According to research done by Stanford University, the amount of knowledge generated in the last 30 years is equivalent to the amount of knowledge generated in the rest of human history.

    “Textbooks are becoming out-dated by the time they are printed. Curricula are no longer reliable records of what we know. Predictable career paths and stable worldviews are things of the past.

    “In this constantly shifting knowledge landscape, learning how to think is becoming far more important than learning what  to think. This is a shift away from subject content towards a focus on thinking skills.”

    André Croucamp- Totem Media.

    “From self-driving cars to carebots for elderly people, rapid advances in technology – experts now believe that almost 50 per cent of occupations existing today will be completely redundant by 2025 as the skills and knowledge needed by employers changes more quickly than ever.

    Employees and organisations need to adapt or die.”

    Carl Dawson, Managing Director, Proversity

    What these quotes illustrate to me is that we have two converging disruptors- one in which our current competencies are becoming redundant due to technological innovation and the other in which our methods of  equipping people to deal with these changes are becoming outdated as a result of focus on transferring knowledge as opposed to changing mindsets. At the convergence of these disruptors is a tsunami through which those who survive will find themselves in a world irretrievably and radically changed.

    The obvious question is- how do we prepare for this tsunami?

    Two thoughts:

    1. Escape the tsunami by challenging our own organisation’s “story” and disrupting long-standing (and sometimes implicit) beliefs about how to make money in a given industry through the adoption of methods of working and company structures which are infinitely flexible. This will include, inter alia, the inclusion of youth and youthful ideas in the highest levels of strategy formation. 

    2.  Exploit the changes in education and training technology- eLearning, heutagogy, gamification, iLearning and so forth to completely overhaul the ways in which we equip people for the future. This needs to happen with lightning speed.

    What impact do these suggestions have on the South African education and training infrastructure and our role in it?