Knowledge and Information

I am sure that the differences between knowledge and understanding are explored in some deep academic way and I probably should get to grips with that but I want to suggest that the differences between knowledge and understanding are quite simple a difference in amount rather than nature.I was waiting for an appointment and looking at a large map of North Wales, which is where I live. A better map than the one shown here.

I was looking at the map and thinking how difficult it was for me to remember some of the names of places in Wales. I do not speak Welsh. Although one learns some things by living in a country that uses a language as different from English as can be it is much more complex for me to know where places are and the relationship they have to each other, geographically, than for places in England.

Why is this? The map above is not too clear, which adds to the difficulty somewhat but see if you can locate Wrexham. In Welsh this is written Wrecsam as there is no X in Welsh.

Wrecsam is to the top right on the map. If you have no idea where Wrexham is then this task is more difficult than in you have more of an idea about its location.

Ok now find Llangollen, which is close to where I live. Don’t worry, I am not planning to get you to visit me!

Llangollen is below and a little to the left of Wrexham. Found it?

First you have some knowledge. You know the word Wrexham. That it is a place in Wales. That it is top right on the map. You also know the same things about Llangollen.

You also now know where Llangollen is in relation to Wrexham. If I told you they were about ten miles apart you get knowledge of the scale of the map.

Would you agree that you were beginning to understand the locations of Wrexham and Llangollen?

My hypothesis is that understanding comes from adding knowledge to that which you already have. Nothing more than that.

How you assess knowledge and understanding is a different matter.

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