The difference between an expert and a novice is that an expert has a fully developed conceptional framework and a novice not only has a minimally developed conceptional framework they may even have some of the concepts wrong and not fully understand all the connections. If we understand that learning is the making of meaningful connections then role of the expert teacher is to provide the context for learning which means they may provide the broad conceptual framework and also create the environment where the learner can start to make the meaningful connections between those concepts. Ultimately the expert mentors the novice in building their conceptual frame work. If you consider the above graphic this notion can be simplified as the process of connecting the dots.
For the past several weeks I have been considering and exploring the best way to convey this idea so when I read Seth Godin’s post Connecting dots (or collecting dots) this morning I was immediately struck by the elegance and the simplicity of his argument. I copied and shared the entire post because it deserves repeating:
Without a doubt, the ability to connect the dots is rare, prized and valuable. Connecting dots, solving the problem that hasn’t been solved before, seeing the pattern before it is made obvious, is more essential than ever before.
Why then, do we spend so much time collecting dots instead? More facts, more tests, more need for data, even when we have no clue (and no practice) in doing anything with it.
Their big bag of dots isn’t worth nearly as much as your handful of insight, is it?
The teachers role is then to help the learner to connect the dots not to simply collect the dots. Enough said!