What are you teaching tomorrow?
Causes of the Civil War? Photosynthesis? Exponents? Huck Finn?
Now think about this – what was the source of the understanding you want students to walk away with?
Contrary to popular belief, knowledge doesn’t just fall out of the sky. Someone first came up with every piece of knowledge known to humanity.
How’d they do it? Disciplinary thinking – using the structures of a discipline to think in a particular way that allows us to uncover the mysteries of the world. It’s how experts create new knowledge about our world.
Take science for example: You probably learned that atoms are made up of protons, electrons, and neutrons arranged something like this.
That’s what most people today would consider fact.
Back in 1904, however, the in vogue model of atomic structure was something that looked more like this:
Electrons were thought to float in a soup of positive charge – like plum pudding.
What happened between plum pudding and our current understanding? Experts used the thinking of their discipline, science in this case, to refine knowledge. So if we were teaching students about atoms, we definitely want them to have an understanding based on the most up-to-date research, but we would also want them to practice using scientific reasoning.
Misconception Alert: That does not mean students have to go through the entire thinking process about the atom or create new knowledge the world has never before seen -that would take thousands of years and a particle accelerator…
So tomorrow when you start your lesson, think about not only how you can teach students the information, but also the process for how knowledge is developed within your discipline. Design your lesson so that students engage authentically in the thinking that historians, scientists, rhetoricians, mathematicians, and others use to progress their fields.
Let us know what happens!