How would you explain the different levels in the Structure of Knowledge and the Structure of Process to a new teacher in your building?
A new teacher would likely be aware of the skills vs knowledge arguments in classroom teaching. I would exclaim that the structure of knowledge focuses on subjects whereby discipline maps are fairly well-known. These are also subjects whereby cultural capital is not necessarily needed to operate within that subject. The structure process focuses on aspects of disciplines where strategies are employed (e.g. language arts, practical subjects).
Why is an understanding of the Structures of Knowledge and Process critical to quality curriculum design and instruction?
To understand the division between content and skills allows us to realise the unhelpfulness of that dichotomy. Instead to see the synergistic elements of skills and knowledge is essential.
What is the difference between two-dimensional and three-dimensional curriculum?
A 2d curriculum is defined as thin because connections are not made across subjects explicitly. It also suggests that connections are not made within the subject.
How close are you to a three-dimensional model in your teaching? What are your “next steps” on the journey?
My subject inherently aims to make connections. Literature is not indeed a discipline in itself, but rather an amalgamation of history and philosophy.
I do have issues with trying to evaluate too early (and therefore perhaps too often). The prioritisation of evaluation as the most ideal kind of thinking in lesson observations has led to too much abstract thought too early.
5. What is the difference, and relationship, between macroconcepts and microconcepts? Why do we want to expand a student’s repertoire of microconcepts and related generalizations through the grades?
Macroconcepts seem vague and generalised words that I do not tend to use myself consciously to connect disciplines. Microconcepts seem more situated and therefore more powerful. Connecting microconcepts seems more fruitful in day-to-day thought than macroconcepts. However, macroconcepts allow students to return to the same concept with increasing depth and sophistication.
6. How do macroconcepts provide breadth of understanding? How do microconcepts provide depth of understanding?
A breadth of understanding is promoted through interdisciplinary connections via macroconcepts. This involves taking decontextualised and low-context knowledge and situating it in a new subject. Microconcepts are high(er)-context knowledge and are essential for understanding in a situated fashion.
I feel this could benefit from some of the work of Bernstein who spoke about vertical and horizontal knowledge. However, Bernstein is ultra-theoretical whereas concept-based learning has the credibility of actual practice and school leaders.
7. What is your reaction to using the Structure of Process as a guide to curriculum writing and Concept-Based Instruction?
The structure of process is interesting to me as a literature teacher. I think that employing a number of concrete metaphors are important for promoting understanding in processes like writing or reading because they are both conceptual yet idiosyncratic. That is, they are not entirely conscious processes, nor do they work the same way every time.
In the conceptual spaces between those metaphors, students can understand their own, workable versions of these processes.
Read more of Tharby’s work here.
8. Where are the 2D and 3D levels found in the Structures of Knowledge and Process?
The idea that concepts will allow students to transfer knowledge still seems a notion rooted in theory. Pragmatically, students will need multiple cues to retrieve knowledge. And writing depends on knowledge of what is being written. This is something I need to further study.