A bit more about bridge, but I want this blog to be read as about learning, and particularly moving from knowledge to understanding.
Understanding is a 3 stage process. In very simple terms it is about first, knowing more. Having more “bits of knowledge”.
The second stage is recognising the linkage between those bits of knowledge and how those bits of knowledge interact.
The third stage is the one that makes me feel joyful. Recognising the significance of that linkage. Realising the meaning that the previously somewhat disparate knowledge items has. It is about beginning to see the knowledge as a whole, within a system.
You could leave it there but my example is a bridge example as I have recently recognised this process in myself. When I explain it you may well say that it is obvious. That is because it is but I am making the linkage apparent to you. Once we recognise the links and the system elements then we are understanding. I am shortcutting that part for you. But my shortcutting is really only giving you a rule which you need to obey. Just obeying the rule will work but understanding the significance will lead to a deeper understanding.
So two bits of bridge, which all bridge players know.
To open one needs 12 high card points, HCP.
To respond to that opening bid one needs 6 (or more HCP)
Well, the opener opens one of a suit with 12 to 19 HCP. So 19 plus 6 makes 25 HCP. And with 25 HCP the partnership can go to game. Obvious as a rule but by recognising why 6 points not as a rule but as understanding is both more powerful and easier to remember. It also, significantly, means that there are other understandings to be sought. The why of bridge bidding and not just the rules.
The question for teachers is how might we support learners in this move from knowing to understanding? Do we ask the question “Why do we bid with 6 HCP after a partner opens?” Is a response, “Because opener might have 19 points and 25 is game” evidence on understanding? How do we know it is not just a statement of a rule?
Should we not ask the question as that can prompt a rule-response? Should we just leave the learner with the knowledge and let the “discovery” happen?
Can we move the understanding process faster?