Tadpole and Fish Fable of Comprehension

Michael Dickmann: Here's what the story is. There was this little tadpole and a fish that grew up in a pond, and they were always intensely curious about life outside the pond. And then, eventually, the tadpole grows into a frog and discovers that, because he's an amphibian, he can go out and see what life is like. So he comes back and tells the fish what he's seen.

He says, "Well, look, one of the things is that there's neat creatures called birds that can actually fly in the air, and they have wings, and they have little feet." And then the fish says, "I know exactly what you mean." And you see what his image of birds are, and they're quite fish-like.

And the frog says, "And they're things called cows, and they have udders, and some of them have horns, and they chew grass sometimes." And so the fish says, "I got it exactly," and here's his view of cows.

And then he says, "Oh, and then they're these things called people, and they walk on two legs, and they come in different sizes." The fish says, "Oh, absolutely." And here's his image of people.

And so we often talk about this as a "fish's fish," the fact that people, all hearing or experiencing the same thing, construct very different interpretations of what's going on, and there's a lot of analogues to this discussed in the book.

One is, you talk to young children who believe that the earth is flat because that fits their experience, and you go, "No, no, the earth is round. It's like a ball." And then the kids say, "Oh, I got it." And if you get them to really articulate the image, it's a ball that's flat on top, and we live on the flat place on top, right? So, they preserve that.


Folksonomies: education perspectives understanding comprehension

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 How People Learn
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Dickmann, Michael (2018), How People Learn, Retrieved on 2018-07-27
Folksonomies: education understanding perspective