Sunday, May 1, 2011

A working definition of mastery

From Catherine Johnson at Kitchen Table Math:
I define "mastery" of subject matter informally as remembering and understanding -- along with novice-level ability to apply the knowledge you've acquired.

Following the research in cognitive science, I see problem-solving, critical thinking, and analysis as capacities that develop after you've acquired knowledge.
This is incredibly useful in thinking about how I'd like the schools to teach my children.  It is consistent with Susan Wise Bauer's description of a classical education.
A classical education, then, has two important aspects. It is language-focused. And it follows a specific three-part pattern: the mind must be first supplied with facts and images, then given the logical tools for organization of facts, and finally equipped to express conclusions.

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