KBSI 2016 paper

today is the first day of the Knowledge Building Summer Institute (KBSI 2016). had the chance to have some conversation with the KB community as we presented our paper “Teachers’ understanding of knowledge creation: A phenomenography of Singapore Chinese Language teachers“. the paper can be found in the local mirror:


won’t be able to make it for tmr as i’ll be facilitating the 2nd f2f session of Clinic 12470. day 3 morning, should be joining the folks at a school visit to teck whye sec.

idea improvement and CL learning

two days ago, met my 老师 for a little chat. and we came upon the topic of knowledge creation (k/c) in learning of CL — how does it look like?

assuming we were to use knowledge building (kb) pedagogy (Scardamalia & Bereaver, 2006) as the guide, ‘idea improvement’ would be a basic tenet. so what does idea improvement look like in CL? what is an idea in CL to begin with?

老师 recalled in the past, CL teachers in his 802 class have had problem reconciling CL and idea improvement. this is an observation, and to me, it’s also a phenomenon. what is the reason behind this phenomenon? we have to perhaps understand what is CL teaching and/or learning to CL teachers? just four days earlier, we were having lunch with a very senior and experienced CL teacher, and he said “有不少华文老师觉得怎样才能学好华文?” the answer is Beethoven the musician (背多分).

Beethoven (背多分) to me reflects CL teachers’ personal epistemology. sadly, it’s tended towards the naive end. what do you 背? naturally, it’s existing knowledge. existing knowledge by who? experts, authority, 前辈,etc. if knowledge created by experts have a higher value, this indicates ‘experts’ exist (cf. omniscient authority). if an authority exists, what is the chance of CL teachers expecting students, who are just beginning to learn and are generally having low CL proficiencies, be creating knowledge? not to mention 尊师重道、长幼有序 is inherent in Confucius’ teachings. one is expected to respect the authority, and accept the 千年累计流传下来的知识。 背,才会有多分。背得越多,得分越多。Hail Beethoven!

following my interpretation of these CL teachers’ personal epistemology, an ‘idea’ would be knowledge that’s been passed down from some authority. would there be a need to improve such an idea? it’s effectively asking these teachers to question the music Beethoven has written 🙂

if we were to encounter another group of CL teachers who possess more sophisticated epistemic beliefs, what would an ‘idea’ be in CL per se? perhaps we can look at what can be created, or are created in language classroom/lessons? yes, literary-related creations, e.g. written compositions, essays, poems, novels, etc. these are creations at a 篇-level. if it’s too ‘big’, we can always reduce the scope and create 段、句、词、字 instead for learners at different levels. assuming each of these could be an ‘idea’, what would idea improvement look like? what would kb discourse be about? yes, i would think it would be about these building blocks in their respective creations, individual or group work. why do student (or group) A choose to use this adjective in his/her sentence? why do student B think that student A’s choice could be improved; justify why, and the ‘improved’ choice? such idea improvement talk can occur at all levels – 字、词、句、段、篇, and related linguistics ideas would inevitably be brought in during the discourse (for e.g. 修辞、语义、段落、篇章结构). if the creation is oral instead of written, ideas of 语音、语速、语调 could be added.

so, perhaps if a CL teacher were to ask me “is knowledge creation possible in CL learning/teaching?” i would probably say “let’s examine your personal epistemology(‘s sophistication) first” 🙂

knowledge creation photoacknowledgement: Photo by woodleywonderworks

knowledge creation — literary writing

if knowledge creation (aka knowledge building) is about ideas improvement and being a deliberate act of creating something new, would entries to “What is the best horror story you can come up with in two sentences” on reddit count?

some samples:

  1. I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, “Daddy check for monsters under my bed.” I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, “Daddy there’s somebody on my bed.” by justAnotherMuffledVo
  2. I woke up to hear knocking on glass. At first, I though it was the window until I heard it come from the mirror again. by therealhatman
  3. They celebrated the first successful cryogenic freezing. He had no way of letting them know he was still conscious. by KnowsGooderThanYou
  4. The last thing I saw was my alarm clock flashing 12:07 before she pushed her long rotting nails through my chest, her other hand muffling my screams. I sat bolt upright, relieved it was only a dream, but as I saw my alarm clock read 12:06, I heard my closet door creak open. by jmperson
  5. The doctors told the amputee he might experience a phantom limb from time to time. Nobody prepared him for the moments though, when he felt cold fingers brush across his phantom hand. by Gagege

and an extended story built on Gagege‘s idea, by Nosfermarki:

It had been 6 months since the accident. I remember because Elizabeth was helping me sign my name in our daughter Jenny’s birthday card. Slowly she guided by hand, helping me create some legible signature rather than the scribbles of a child in kindergarten, the best that I was able to manage with such little practice. It seems that when one loses a limb, it’s quite likely to be the dominant one. For me it was the right.

I was concentrating on my writing, trying not to make her do too much of the work, when I felt it. I hadn’t noticed the phantom feeling of my elbow resting on the table beside me, by this point I had almost gotten used to it, although the pain would sometimes still wake me. It was brief, but enough to startle me and cause my hand, still holding the pen, to jump and effectively turn my name into scribbles despite my wife’s best efforts. It was gentle but cold. Too cold. Less like ice and more like the feeling of a deep cut, when the insides of a body part are suddenly exposed to the outside elements that they were never supposed to meet. When Elizabeth asked, I shrugged it off, telling her it was an unexpected pain in the hand that was convinced it was clenched, even though it didn’t exist. At the moment, I almost believed that that was what happening myself.

The next time it woke me…. (skipped)

For months it happened, with no warning or reason. The doctors said it was just the phantom limb, that it was to be expected. No one understood that something was wrong. Sometimes it would last days at a time, and those were the days when I would stay in bed, watching TV, trying not to focus on the hand around my wrist, trying not to think of the thing that was holding me. Sometimes it’s grip would loosen only to tighten again, as if the hand that didn’t exist was sore from holding my hand that didn’t exist for so long. The one day, it stopped. For a month or so, nothing happened at all. I had gone from living with an unknown entity at my side every day to finally being free. We lived it up during that time. We went everywhere, from the Grand Canyon to Disney World. It had been forever since we had the opportunity to spend time as a family again, and we enjoyed every moment we had, grateful to have suffered only a small loss to our family.

We had opened the cafe again, and my wife was doing what she loved. My daughter and I were at the cafe. It was closing time. She and I sat at a table outside while Elizabeth closed the register, chatting about the upcoming middle school dance. My wife joined us and locked the doors. “Wanna come with me?” she asked, patting the bag of money in her hand awaiting deposit at the bank across the street. Jenny jumped up, eager, no doubt, to get one of the suckers from the candy dish that the bank kept at it’s counter. “I’ll warm up the truck,” I said, fishing my keys from my pocket. My wife nodded in approval and walked me to the truck, kissing me on the cheek through the window after I entered, and again on glass after I rolled it up. They headed down the length of the truck and I turned to check the mirror when I saw it. A truck barreling down the road heading straight for my wife and daughter. I screamed her name and threw the door open when the hand that wasn’t there was suddenly jerked to the opposing side of the truck, holding me in place as I kicked and screamed. The kiss on the glass of the window was the last I ever got, and the hand never let go again.

and finally, trust someone among the community to be innovative (aka break the rules), marino1310‘s SIX words creation:

I just saw my reflection blink.

samples credit: various authors on reddit.com *THUMBS UP* to all the authors!