Belief Systems and Mental Sets

A belief system is a network of proposition comprised of what we consider to be true or factual about reality. Each of us has a vast network of belief systems that act as a scaffold to help us make sense of the world around us. As we encounter new data we use this network to perceive, interpret, analyze, and organize this data.

Our belief systems also act as filters to eliminate data that does not correlate with our existing constructs. In this sense, our beliefs can limit thinking and learning (Harman and Rheingold, 1984). Below are described three different levels of belief systems, each successively harder to access and more resistant to change (Sisk and Torrance, 2001). (Johnson, 2011).

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From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able

TEDxKC talks synopsis, by Michael Wesch, “From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able”: Today a new medium of communication emerges every time somebody creates a new web application. Yet these developments are not without disruption and peril. Familiar long-standing institutions, organizations and traditions disappear or transform beyond recognition. And while new media bring with them new possibilities for openness, transparency, engagement and participation, they also bring new possibilities for surveillance, manipulation, distraction and control.

Critical thinking, the old mainstay of higher education, is no longer enough to prepare our youth for this world. We must create learning environments that inspire a way of being-in-the-world in which they can harness and leverage this new media environment as well as recognize and actively examine, question and even re-create the (increasingly digital) structures that shape our world.

(Published on Oct 12, 2010)