David Perkins – Teaching for Understanding

A good read about the importance of understanding, and the distinction between it and the gathering of knowledge and skills. Though these are important to education, Perkins talks about the notion of a “performance perspective”, meaning that knowledge gained needs to be able to be used in an adaptable way, and be transferred to other contexts and used to solve problems in other disciplines. This demonstrates proper, useful understanding which isn’t provided by rote learning.

Perkins argues that schools and teachers need to be aware of the importance of understanding, and its role in creating “generative knowledge”. This is knowledge that has value across multiple areas of the curriculum, that can be built upon by students as they encounter more reasons to apply it.

Good points are raised about how to achieve this level of good understanding in learners. Regular and appropriate assessment, a long term, holistic approach to learning, and familiarising students with the different methodologies appropriate to different subject areas all get a mention.

Teaching for Understanding

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