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Greg McVerry

The Epistemology of Hegel: An Underlying Approach to Learning

In the Associationist epistemology, knowledge is the result of experience, we perceive and understand the world through individual experience of it.

Instead Kant argued that our experience does not directly lead to knowledge, but rather the mind interprets the experience through structures that the mind imposes (such as cause and effect, real or hypothetical), and thus the mind takes the input from experiences and constructsan understanding of it [3].

Hegel added two key components to the Kantian idea of construction of knowledge: The first, laid out in his 1807 Phänomenologie des Geistes(usually translated as Phenomenology of the Mind [5] or of the Spirit [6], neither of which precisely captures the meaning of Geist) is that of the Volksgeist (roughly the spirit of a people) which we can largely interpret as what we mean today by ‘culture’. We come to our knowledge by means of the culture in which we find ourselves.

The second is the dialectic method for arriving at truth. The classic formulation of this is Fichte’s: Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis [7] (although Hegel himself used the formulation abstract negative concrete).

Thus we have the three basic components of the Hegelian epistemology: a) that knowledge is constructed by the mind rather than simply copied from the world, b) that this knowledge construction takes place within a cultural context that determines (to some extent) the form of the knowledge, and c) that the mode for this construction takes the form of a dialog (i.e. it is dialectic)

Freire argued strongly against an Associationist epistemology and its instantiation in the classroom, which he termed the banking model of instruction. Instead he argued that pedagogy needed to be responsive to the students’ need to a) construct rather than receive knowledge, b) within the framework of their own culture and language, c) through the use of respectful dialogue.

Vygotsky's  most important and influential insight was that of mediation between the learner and the object of the learning: that what distinguishes human from animal learning was the use of concrete but more importantly, psychological tools

In AST, a learning activity is composed of three central components: the subject (or learner), the object (produced by the learning activity), and the community (typically the class, including the instructor). Each pair of these components is related through a culturally specific set of mediators

Apprenticeship [21]. Collins and Kapur outline the four components of their model of Constructivist pedagogy: identification of the kinds of knowledge in the tasks to be taught, determination of the sequencing of those tasks, the set of instructional methods, with emphasis on dialog and active construction of knowledge, and finally, the cultural context (which they call the ‘sociology’) [22]



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