Especially noteworthy to me was Beeler’s Four Stages model. To be honest, this model is new to me (thanks for the introduction), so I spent some time thinking about it. I’d like to rephrase the four stages like this:
- Unconscious incompetence: I don’t know what I don’t know
- Conscious incompetence: Now I know what I don’t know
- Unconscious competence: I don’t know what I actually know, i.e. I can do more than I think
- Conscious competence: I know what I know
This sequence strikes me as intuitively accurate. I like it on a personal level. That is I can see myself using the model in my teaching and thinking. Of course, the model simplifies the reality somewhat. Rather than a purely linear progression from not knowing to knowing, there will be many multi-layered simultaneous states of not knowing, emerging knowing, probably never knowing, clear knowing and so on.
Barnacle (2007) describes the search for knowledge as a perpetual state of never fully knowing. Knowledge is erotic in that it is desired, outside of us and teasingly within reach, yet never so. This implies (and Barnacle draws upon Socrates’s famous life and death to illustrate this point) that Beeler’s fourth stage is illusory. Barnacle claims that “knowledge obtained by the philosopher will always remain partial: just as glimpses of knowledge will be revealed so too will ignorance remain at the door” (2007, p. 184). This is to me a comforting thought. Our own personal trajectories may lead us down widely differing paths, and the notion that no one can come to the end allows for a more investigative, more accepting, more diverse intellectual life.
As I hadn’t heard of this model before, I tried to access the Beeler article. It’s not available on line. Could you send me a copy?
Beeler’s model is widely cited, though. I did check with Wikipedia whose article on “The Four Stages of Competence” indicate that the model is not Beeler’s, but an older one from the 1970s. Following those links, it appears that the model is quite famous in psychology and is the focus of books by Gordon Training International. I’d like to read the Beeler article to see if these ideas were referenced (I’m sure they were), and to wonder if it’s not a kind of academic laziness to cite “The Beeler Model” in all of those later articles. It’s all too easy to skim read an article, take out a usable point and to reference the article’s author without ever seeing if the idea is the author’s or not.
Barnacle, R. (2007). Research education ontologies: exploring doctoral becoming. Higher Education Research and Development, 24(2), 179-188.
Four stages of competence. (n.d.) Retrieved May 16, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_competence