Forms of Mathematical Knowledge pp 135161  Cite as
Beyond Mere Knowledge of Mathematics: The Importance of Knowingto Act in the Moment
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Abstract
Knowingto is active knowledge which is present in the moment when it is required. To try to produce knowingto, formal education focuses on forms of knowing which are easier to teach and to test: knowingthat (factual), knowinghow (technique and skills), and knowingwhy (having a story in order to structure actions and from which to reconstruct actions). Together these constitute knowingabout the subject. Expertise is demonstrated by being able to respond to assessments: to write essays and to solve routine problems. The central problem of education is that knowingabout does not in itself guarantee knowingto, as teachers have attested throughout the ages. For example, Edward Fitzgerald (Harrison, 1937) captures it beautifully in one stanza of his purported translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam:
Instead of trying to reach definitions, we illustrate distinctions amongst kinds of knowing as used by various authors in the past. Then we turn to our own experience, for it is in one’s own experience that one can locate and enliven sources of metaphoric resonances and metonymic triggers which constitute understanding. Drawing on our experience we distinguish knowingto from other forms of knowing, and explore implications of that distinction for teaching and learning mathematics. We propose that knowingto act in the moment depends on the structure of attention in the moment, depends on what one is aware of. Educating this awareness is most effectively done by labelling experiences in which powers have been exhibited, and developing a rich network of connections and triggers so that actions ‘come to mind’. Noone can act if they are unaware of a possibility to act; noone can act unless they have an act to perform.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent,

Doctor and Saint and heard great argument,

About it and about: but ever more

Came out by the same door as in I went (p. 341).
Keywords
Epistemological Belief Dynamic Geometry Software Cognitive Apprenticeship Justify True Belief External Authority
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