From assenting to asserting

Mason, John (2009). From assenting to asserting. In: Skovsmose, Ole; Velero, Paola and Christensen, Ole Ravn eds. University Science and Mathematics Education in Transition. New York, NY, USA: Springer, pp. 17–40.




The issue addressed in this chapter is age-old: How can learners be stimulated to move from assenting (passively and silently accepting what they are told, doing what they are shown how to do) to asserting (actively taking initiative, by making, testing and modifying conjectures, and by taking responsibility for making subject pertinent choices). How can learners be provoked into actively working on and making sense of the ideas and techniques that they encounter, and how can this cultural ethos be fostered and sustained? I use the term asserting because of the assonance with assenting, but also because it signals that the learner is taking initiative and making significant choices. It is not intended to indicate that learners become either arrogant or garrulous. Much of the most desirable assertive behaviour is internal, and need not have visibly overt external behaviour. It involves taking initiative, taking control, making choices, and becoming independent.

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