Meaning and Teaching
Plato in the Theaetetus, (1892, 198a) spoke of knowledge as something one could not just possess passively. To retrieve and use knowledge, one needs reason. Philip Phenix (1958) similarly wrote that rote memorization is relatively inefficient if the symbols learned are not significant to the learner. For Phenix, significance depends less on reason than on meaning.
Michael Polanyi (1969) agreed, saying that all human thought comes into existence by grasping the meaning and mastering the use of language. To grasp meaning, one has to interiorize external things or pour oneself into them. Meaning arises either by integrating clues in our own body or by integrating clues outside. We cannot learn to ride a bicycle by memorizing the laws of physics that govern its balance. The laws have to be made meaningful by getting on the bike and trying the different actions that keep it upright and heading in the direction we want it...
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