In sociology of education, it is always believed that lay knowledge or everyday knowledge is the type of information that is within the public domain. This type of knowledge allows people to interpret their surrounding since it provides a frame of reference or direction. This knowledge is usually acquired through the process of socialisation because societal members obtain it as they grow.
In other words, an individual must not necessarily go to school to equip himself with lay knowledge. An individual is bequeathed with the sense of reality and order regarding the events of society through lay knowledge. Lay knowledge gives an individual the opportunity to foretell, familiarise, and comprehend the complex world.
Unlike other forms of knowledge, lay knowledge is simply made of commonsense and social recipes meaning that an individual ought to follow what the society dictates. It is compared to recipes because it provides the type of knowledge that an individual must possess in order to fit in society perfectly. Some scholars call it cookbook because an individual cannot survive without this type of fundamental knowledge.
In human life, some events and behaviours do not have ready answers meaning that an individual ought to invoke some form of knowledge to offer adequate answers as to why things are the way they are. In other words, an individual accumulates wisdom through experts and experience, which would later help him or her to interpret events (Blackledge and Hunt 12).
Reflexive knowledge, on the other hand, refers to formal communicative knowledge that is acquired through schooling. This form of knowledge is manifested when people engage in some form of an argument, debate or discussion. It allows an individual to analyse an event using certain theories, concepts, and models.
In this regard, an individual is expected to assess a situation carefully, examine an event or behaviour, explain the occurrence of phenomena, forge a hypothesis, draw some conclusions, and develop various options to explain an event or a social action. Reflexive knowledge is closely based on reason meaning that it supports rational discourse.
This is compared to everyday knowledge, which is based on the dexterities of the community. Lay knowledge draws its examples and experiences from experts in the community whereas reflexive knowledge is based on reason meaning that it has to obey the rules of rationality. Therefore, such knowledge cannot be approved unless they are scientifically proven. Lay knowledge varies from one individual to the other.
Moreover, everyday knowledge may differ based on the culture. However, reflexive knowledge must always be uniform meaning that it has to be acceptable in a much bigger community. For knowledge to be considered reflexive, it must be endorsed globally meaning that the statement needs to be applicable in all societies in the world. For instance, a theory that works in the United States should always be valid in Europe, as well as Africa.
In this regard, the method used to gather information in any society should be recognised worldwide. Any attempt to criticise reflexive knowledge should be defeated through meaning that the statement should be logical.
In other words, the alternative body of knowledge given should be inferior to the reflexive knowledge. Any rational discourse should be ready for questioning and criticism hence reflexive knowledge ought to be factual in order to pass the test.
Lay knowledge is never subjected to academic or scientific review, which means that it might not be accepted in some societies. This implies that not all people are allowed to communicate and think rationally since they might not have the capacity to do so. However, individuals are allowed to join institutions of high learning to acquire the power to communicate their ideas freely.
In this regard, it is evident that lay knowledge is restricted to a small group of individuals while reflexive knowledge is available to very many people, who have the freedom of challenging it. For further clarification, knowledge should be transformed from religious, theological, and traditional knowledge to scientific knowledge for it to be accepted as reflexive.
In this case, an individual moves ahead to prove that the knowledge he or she possesses is not simply traditional, but instead it can be applied in various societies (McKenzie 92). This is done through various processes, such as substantiation, authentication, prevarication.
Why the Curricula of Educational Institutions are Largely Based on Reflexive Knowledge
As earlier noted, lay knowledge or commonsense is available in every society meaning that each society has its own established standards that govern human interactions and interrelations. This form of knowledge is only meant to help an individual in normal life, but not in the professional world. At the global level, an individual should be able to reason in a way that would accommodate the views of the majority.
Lay knowledge is only applicable to a small group hence it cannot be relied upon when interacting with people from other societies. The main role of education is to extend the lay knowledge to incorporate reflexive knowledge. This conversion does not take place automatically meaning that a curricula needs to be developed. Many people in society tend to believe that their lay knowledge is accurate, which no always the case.
Such individuals adopt reflexive reasoning when they are faced with serious problems that cannot be explained using lay knowledge. Whenever an individual aspires to offer a verbal expression, reflexive knowledge is always invoked. Therefore, learning is the best way of bridging the gap between lay knowledge and reflexive knowledge.
In the modern society, a number of institutions have included reflexive knowledge in their curriculums. However, even lay knowledge is still valid because it works in the vocational training. When included in curricula, reflexive knowledge allows students to develop their faculties since they would be able to exercise reason. In this regard, its inclusion enables personal development on the side of the student.
Education in its purest form is a process that allows individuals to transcend the hurdles of their secluded behaviours. This would definitely give them an opportunity to be part of the social world in which they have the right to exercise their social privileges and everyday jobs. Moreover, educational knowledge or reflexive knowledge is believed to be superior because it exceeds a pr-reflexive or implicit means of knowing.
Students going through the reflexive curriculum would be in a position to engage unreceptively and expansively with what they claim to know. For instance, an individual who can speak a language precisely without reflexive knowledge might not understand the rules governing that particular language (Gewirtz and Cribb 66).
Research shows that many people have the ability of engaging tangentially and contemplatively with the everyday knowledge. This ability is referred to as accounting practice. Moreover, logic demands that people give detailed explanations of their knowledge to facilitate a better understanding.
Since individuals have the ability to engage in reflective reasoning yet they have no techniques on how to do it, the education system ought to include reflexive knowledge in its curricula. Formal education has the capability o developing reflexive knowledge fully. Moreover, formal education must be treated in the same way as science meaning that the idea of doubt ought to be provided.
This is better facilitated through reflexive education because it shares a lot with scientific knowledge. Research shows that scientific knowledge can easily deal with failures. In the scientific world, ineffective theories and models are always scrapped and are replaced with better one, something that can never happen regarding everyday knowledge or lay knowledge.
Reflexive knowledge allows young scholars to balance the successes of the theory with its failures. In case it is established that the weaknesses of the theory exceed its strengths, the theory is always discarded, modified, or incorporated into another theory. This would actually improve the knowledge of students. In fact, this explains why reflexive knowledge is included in the curriculums of various institutions of high learning.
Relationship between Education Knowledge and Language
A close relationship between educational knowledge (reflexive) and language exists. In fact, sociologists attach a significant meaning to language in relation to reflexive knowledge. Language is one of the aspects of culture, which is learned through the process of socialisation and is passed from generation to the other. In this regard, language is intertwined with the behaviour of an individual in social life.
In whatever the social actors perform, language is always a determining factor mainly because it is a medium of social practice. Language enables an individual to comprehend the reason or the inner sense, which makes a distinction between social life and natural events. Through communication, an individual would easily classify what another person says or does.
Since a close relationship between thought, reality and language exist, an individual is able to comprehend various types of knowledge, including educational (reflexive) knowledge. Research shows that language has the capacity of influencing thought in terms of reality.
Moreover, language represents an elucidation of reality. Individuals are in position to perceive a reality since language sets up a sequence of cognitive groups that act as framework for distinguishing reality. The cognitive groups that language sets guide the cognitive activities of individuals, which would further direct the way that individuals conceptualise reality.
This is achieved through arranging reality in a way that would be understood better. In this regard, it is true that language influences the idea that is related to truth. Different codes of language establish various sets of cognitive groups, as indicated above. These cognitive groups offer different options of interpreting a phenomenon or reality.
For this to happen, a number of language resources must be present in order to express the meaning of a reality. However, each resource has an implication in terms of usage meaning that careful selection process must be undertake.
Language has a number of meanings implying that the context at which it is being used must be understood in order to apply it appropriately. In this regard, language is an aspect that should be used strictly based on culture.
Blackledge, David, and Barry Hunt. Sociological interpretations of education. London: Routledge, 1985. Print.
Gewirtz, Sharon, and Alan Cribb. Understanding Education: A Sociological Perspective. Cambridge: Polity, 2009. Print.
McKenzie, Janet. Changing Education: A Sociology of Education Since 1944. Harlow, England: Prentice Hall, 2001. Print.