Knowledge vs Information RDI Webinar Notes

Knowledge relates not to information content, but to the efficacy of information in terms of its application to the situation at hand – Bennett & Bennett.

Dr. Steve Gutstein has been giving weekly webinars for parents on the RDI system. They’re very good, rich in RDI theory. If you are on the RDI system and cannot make the webinar times, they’re being archived. It’s great to attend the live presentation, because I can ask questions. Here’s my notes from this week’s webinar, “The Importance of Experience Based Knowledge.”

Knowledge is information that is transformed and integrated.  Knowledge is not static. It changes as you use it and find what is useful to you. Knowledge is only valuable if we can retrieve it when we need it. That requires the ability to organize knowledge in a way that is meaningful to you. You also must be able to match what you are seeing in a situation with the knowledge you have that goes with it.

The quality of our knowledge is determined by how we learn to create representations of our experiences to create anticipation of future ones. Dr. Gutstein calls this the basic idea of being human. Fascinating!

Knowledge comes from our own experiences as well as many other sources, but it must be personalized, asking yourself what about it is important to you. Dr. Gutstein broke down all the steps of acquiring knowledge in a very discrete way. Never thought about all the decisions involved when we evaluate and transform information to turn it into knowledge.

Knowledge in this sense isn’t for everyday things; it’s to help you handle uncertain, complex, and ambiguous situations.  We integrate current knowledge with new information to evaluate and react to new situations.

If you’re arriving at a split in a hiking trail, you update by checking your map, your energy level, trail conditions, and weather before picking which route to take.  I do this all the time. Sometimes a trail I want to take doesn’t look so good when I get there. I know now to be wary of large ditches and mud puddles. The trail usually gets worse, not better.

Then there’s proficiency vs skills. Knowledge is not useful without requisite proficiency. However proficiency does not develop without knowledge to guide it. We learn to develop knowledge; we practice to increase proficiency.

Effective learners develop habits that support day to day knowledge application, ongoing knowledge development, and efficient knowledge organization. As parents we need to model these habits for our children. I’m sure I do this process as I’m pretty involved as a learner and I’m constantly evaluating my progress in many areas, but I am not really conscious of it. I need to make this more explicit in my own mind in order to make it clearer for Zip. RDI is constantly making me more aware of thinking about thinking. It’s a weird feeling sometimes to think at such a level but also very cool.

Finally, learners need values that support engaging with challenges. They try and find out if there’s a “better way” to do things, usually going past their comfort zone. Learners cannot be too hard on themselves when things don’t work out, and also must value curiosity.

All of this ties back to Knowledge. The four cornerstones of Knowledge are Updated Information, Skill Proficiency, Supporting Habits, Supporting Values.

But what is Knowledge for? We use knowledge to decrease uncertainty and increase our ability to make predictions. This is so much of what ASD kids are missing.

While this is lots of theory to absorb, I can see in our RDI objectives how we’re getting there someday. I never really thought about Zip’s deficits in exactly this way. In RDI, parents are encouraged to make their thoughts, especially decision-making thoughts aloud. It makes sense to me!

5 responses »

  1. I didn’t know you were there! See you next week? I have to take notes otherwise my brain starts wandering off to things like what I need from the store and checking email.

  2. Hi I wasn’t at the webinar but you have done a great job capturing the “Why Bother” of thinking about knowledge and your notes resonate with other webinar discussions I have attended on this topic.

    I would like to share your Blog with some families I work with who are doing RDI.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.


    • Thanks so much. If it could be helpful to others, please feel free to share this information. I like how you phrased the “Why Bother” part – that’s exactly what I was figuring out as I listened.

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