I’m reading a paper and just came across the term “the inert knowledge problem“, coined in 1929 by Alfred North Whitehead:
The inert knowledge problem: students are unable to apply knowledge in a new situation, even when it is highly relevant.
This is what happens when we only ask kids to work at the bottom two levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Sure, they remember information and can explain it — but they can’t actually use their knowledge.
It’s “inert”. What an evocative term.
I’ve also been reading works from Jerome Bruner and John Dewey. It strikes me how concerned they all were with a lack of thinking in classrooms. They were all pushing for a focus on big ideas (not isolated facts) and cross-disciplinary thinking.
90 years later, we’re still struggling with the same problems!
You might be interested in my series on Thinking vs Remembering
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