Understanding as the transformation of what is already known

ASHWORTH, P. D. (2004). Understanding as the transformation of what is already known. Teaching in higher education, 9 (2), 147-158.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1080/1356251042000195385


The conventional image is that we (and other students) reach an understanding of something after a period of puzzled wrestling with the material. Understanding is the end-point of learning. However, there is an important sense in which understanding (of a rudimentary kind) precedes effective learning. Trying to develop this conceptually, I draw on Heidegger's account of hermeneutics in Being and Time (1962). The individual is seen as dwelling in an already-interpreted world with which they have to come to terms. The focus (especially in university and other adult education) becomes the learner as the puzzled, would-be interpreter of the writing and speech with which they are confronted. The interpretation is attempted on the basis of what is already known. However, the struggle is not purely individual. I argue that the paradigm of meaning-interpretation in the context of learning is conversation in that human learning is best considered participatory.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Institute of Education
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1080/1356251042000195385
Page Range: 147-158
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2008
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 23:30
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/149

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