Cultivating a garden of knowledge: Encouraging students to move from information to knowledge.

Cultivating a garden of knowledge: Encouraging students to move from information to knowledge.


Mason, Deanna M.




November 2014


The Notebook, 14(2) [Electronic publication]


Reinert Center for Teaching Excellence, Saint Louis University: St. Louis, MO.


The Notebook – Reinert Center for Teaching Excellence

Cultivating a Garden of Knowledge: Encouraging Students to Move from Information to Knowledge

Deanne Marie Mason, Ph.D. Nursing-Madrid

Webster’s defines knowledge as, “the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association.” Learners might assume collecting information is the same as developing knowledge. However, active engagement is needed to transform information into knowledge.

“Inch by inch, row by row Gonna make this garden grow All it takes is a rake and a hoe And a piece of fertile ground...”

Information shared in the classroom are seeds of knowledge; full of possibility and potential, yet unrealized until the information becomes personally meaningful. Seeds can be carried and passed from individual to individual without ever becoming the mature plant they have the ability to be. Only when seeds are deposited into fertile soil, and cared for, does their true potential appear.

Educators have learned the process of changing information into knowledge. Therefore, they hold a responsibility to assist learners to recognize the value of planting those seeds and caring for them until fully mature. Learning to cultivate a “garden of knowledge” is a task students must practice to create meaning of, and from, information obtained in class. Otherwise the seeds lie dormant, become scattered, or are lost.

“Pullin’ weeds, pickin’ stones Man is made of dreams and bone Feel the need to grow my own ‘Cause the time is close at hand...”

Teachers can lead students to their gardens by incorporating learning strategies that support the development of knowledge through experience and association. Examples include classroom assessment techniques (CATS) like 1-minute papers and concept maps. Service learning illuminates direct application of classroom learning while engaging in service to the greater good. It is also important to avoid relying on teaching strategies, such as “Sage on the Stage,” that only promote a transfer of information.

“Plant your row straight and long Temper them with prayer and song Mother Earth will make you strong If you give her love and care...”

Teaching students to tend their knowledge-gardens encourages a sense of personal responsibility towards knowledge formation. With practice, learners are able to continue tending their gardens and harvesting the fruits of their labor beyond the classroom.

The Garden Song by John Denver. Album: The Country Roads Collection, 1979. If you want to watch the video of this song:


23 January 2015



Contact Information

Dr. Deanna Marie Mason

Calle Téllez, 26, 28007 Madrid
T. +34 912 192 862

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