What transforms knowledge into understanding? What indelibly inscribes understanding into our synapses? We can study content. But to truly understand something — a fact, a skill, a complex process or concept — we must also think about our thinking in relation to the content. As learners of any age, we need to consider whether or not we understand something, misunderstand something, or are confused about it. We must tease out how we understand or misunderstand. We need to describe why we are confused. Developing such metacognitive skills and using them in reflective ways are paths to deeper, more nuanced understanding of knowledge itself. Thinking about content alone only takes us so far in our learning. To make understanding about any topic as permanent as a ink under the skin, we have to think about thinking, too. Metacognition is the needle that turns the mere ink of knowledge into a tattoo on the brain!
The following pages constitute my own metacognitive journeys during my studies at National-Louis University, pursuing a second master’s degree; this one in the learning sciences. I hope my own mental gymnastics provide insights for others as well.