Contextualizing the Learning
Codone, Susan K.
Perhaps the most overlooked teaching principle is the one stating that we learn by linking new material to known material. If we cannot connect what we must learn to what we already know, we can hardly anchor it in our mental schemata and thus make it our own, at least durably. Moreover, our motivation for learning would at best be extrinsic (some sort of obligation, perhaps): Why would we want to learn material to which we cannot relate? Even if we could learn the material without context—by memorization, for instance—we could not recognize situations where this unconnected knowledge applies. For all practical purposes, it would be useless.