Separate and Connected Knowing: doubting and believing

Belenky et al (1986) described separate knowing and connected knowing as two accounts of procedural knowledge. These two distinct positions are used in the search for knowledge or truth. Below will first describe (minus the men are keeping us down theme of the book, or more accurately the silence of women, and a small bit of my opinion on the matter) Belenky,M.F., Clinchy,B.M., Goldberger,N.R. & Tarule,J.M. (1986) Women's ways of knowing: The development of self, voice, and mind (Basic Books: New York)

Separate Knowing
Is perhaps what students will be most acquainted. It requires:
- Analytical thinking
- And most importantly critical thinking
In fact, Belenky et al (1986)’s example of separated knowing rings true for many of us, that in some sense it is “the way They want you to think” - the “They” being academic staff.
As separate knowing uses doubt as its main weapon in acquiring knowledge:
- The most important assumption is that EVERYONE may be wrong

In fact perversely it seemed that the more attractive the concept, the higher the burden of proof is necessary for it to be accepted by a “separate knower”. Therefore, this style of knowing is more about excluding than including knowledge.

How it relates to back to academic institutions?
The language of universities etc is critical thinking, in which acquiring knowledge is adversarial in nature. Opposing facts are pitted against each other, till a theory fails to account for certain evidence.
However, this theme of doubt is also continues in the way which we are examined. Regardless of how one favours a theory or model, in exams at the very limit is to discuss the evidence that challenges our favoured perspective. But better yet is to try and make our view “bulletproof” from them by various methods of disqualification.

Important points
The key points of separate knowing are:
- It is critical thinking, in which we indulge in a “doubting game” of propositions put in front of us (Elbow, 1973).
- Its relationship with ideas and concepts are impersonal and objective.

Connected knowing
By contrast this procedure towards knowledge is very personal:
- It relies on a network of personal experiences
- Not just one’s own but also the experiences of others
- However, the experiences of others are limited to one’s self, so it requires approximation
- It adopts Elbow’s (1973) “believing game”
- In that connected knowers must take into account the position of the person, whose “experience” they are adding to their knowledge – i.e. being connected to other’s terms
- Thus, empathy is employed in knowing, rather than justification

Separate vs. Connected knowing.
This is an important distinction, in that connected knowing is trying to understand the object of knowledge, e.g. taste of something, or the rationale behind things or theories, but separating knowing is the “trial by fire” for these objects. In that it tests the validity of things (which is something we employ in our essays!).
In other words, connected knowing is about what and how did one arrive at this view. But separate knowing is, is that true? Are you misrepresenting or omitting evidence? Therefore, these two approaches can be interpreted as connected knowers attempts to be personally acquainted with knowledge, but separated knowers is concerned with judging is something is true or not, in a binary manner.

Further points by Belenky et al (1986):
- That women are more likely to feel unable to engage in the doubting game, as They find the arguments to be personal
- They suggest this is because women engage more in connected knowing, which personal
- They argue that in educational institutions, because teachers, lecturers etc are male who use critical thinking as a tool, present an unequal debate. As the relationship between teacher and student are unequal, and students’ have unpolished skill in critical thinking, and takes things in at face value. Almost regardless of discipline, there is an adversarial nature in the learning environment.

Further reading (I have not included in this wiki)

Connected and separated learning and effect on learning environment
- Hofer, B. K. & Pintrich, P. R. (1997) The Development of Epistemological Theories: Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing and Their Relation to Learning, Review of Educational Research, 67, 1, 88-140
- They argue that current research support that in educational institutions, there is indeed evidence that the use of separate knowing creates inequitable learning environments for females compared to males.

Gender and separated and connected knowing
- Knight, K. H., Elfenbein, M. H., Martin, M. B. (1997) Relationship of Connected and Separate Knowing to the Learning Styles of Kolb, Formal Reasoning, and Intelligence. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 37, 5-6, 401-14
- They found a relationship between learning that placed emphasis on feeling and connected learning.
- But separate and connected knowing did show relate to formal reasoning, vocabulary and abstract thinking ability. This is suggestive that the approaches to knowing are independent of ability

Online sources on Separated and Connected knowing (starter references)
- someone else’s wiki with many references
- A piece by Clinchy that elaborates on the topic much more deeply than the book.

Overview: it is obvious that these types of knowing are styles of how we approach knowledge, perhaps akin to attribution styles. But also, the style we use is likely to relate to what is the knowledge we are trying to know. For example, in scientific discourse the way we look at evidence for and against hypotheses, are not particularly personal. The evidence presented is in an objective manner, so our criticism is targeted at the evidence or the method (somewhat very similar to very harsh proof reading).
However, in knowledge derived from personal experiences, obviously it becomes personal. It necessary to try and be a connected knower to understand the knowledge presented. As the knowledge is intrinsic, the critical approach does not help in gaining such knowledge.
But the main grievances of this topic regarding education is the adversarial form of critical thinking, that is a component of many academic disciplines, which women is reported to have difficulty handling initially argued by Belenky et al. It is unclear on how to approach this how to solve this problem, as criticism in academia seems adversarial in nature.

On a side note:
This may suggest why arguments in real life fail to reconcile, when both connected knowing and separate knowing are employed. As essentially doubting and believing, opposing languages in knowledge are being used. Obviously other things like emotions, motives and interests come into play.