“Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.”
- Thomas Henry Huxley,
At the center of human evolution, lies a deep desire to learn and understand the ways of the world we live-in. It is this quest that sets sailors off their coasts to find far away mystic lands and philosophers in search of answers to mankind's most intriguing questions. When we witness something unusual in our daily life, it makes us ponder. We ask ourselves "what is this?", "why did this happen?", and "how did it happen?". Answering such fundamental questions, start us out on a journey of discovery. Geographical exploration led to bringing the world closer and in turn making it smaller, while the journey of scientific discovery has created an abundance of information that led to more questions. As a consequence of this never ending process, we understand a few things but we know a lot more. There is a fundamental difference between knowing and understanding.
“Knowing is not understanding. There is a great difference between knowing and understanding: you can know a lot about something and not really understand it.”
American Inventor, Engineer, and Businessman.
Knowing is, fundamentally, an external process that is based on an individual's interaction with his/her environment. On the other hand, understanding starts with the information an individual already knows that initiates a process of internalization. This facilitates application of the acquired knowledge in a way that the individual sees fit. It also places the individual on a unique platform where he/she may be able to contribute to the existing body of knowledge. Thus, initiating a cyclic process that involves a network of individuals going through the stages of learning, understanding, implementing, and, eventually, innovating.
With that broader perspective in mind, I define teaching as a process that provides students with the necessary knowledge they need to understand, and ignite their process of internalization along the way. I consider classroom as a community and learning as a movement that achieves a specific task. I believe that every course must be structured with a very specific goal in mind, which serves as the primary objective for the course. Further, the course must be broken down into several modules (and sub-modules, if needed) with their own specific objectives that collectively aid students in achieving the ultimate goal of the course.