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Procedural vs Declarative Knowledge....

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  • Procedural vs Declarative Knowledge....

    Who's familiar with these terms ?

    Any comments on how they relate to riding, learning to ride, and instructing riders ?


    Declarative knowledge is defined as the factual information stored in memory and known to be static in nature. Other names, e.g. descriptive knowledge, propositional knowledge, etc. are also given. It is the part of knowledge which describes how things are. Things/events/processes, their attributes, and the relations between these things/events/processes and their attributes define the domain of declarative knowledge.




    Procedural knowledge is the knowledge of how to perform, or how to operate. Names such as know-how are also given. It is said that one becomes more skilled in problem solving when he relies more on procedural knowledge than declarative knowledge.
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  • #2
    Well, I wasn't familiar with the terms until now, but from your description it seems to me that, as far as riding is concerned,

    Declarative Knowledge = ability to talk the talk

    Procedural Knowledge = ability to walk the walk


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    • #3
      Declarative Knowledge: how to ride test figures

      Procedural Knowledge: how to ride a horse

      *star*
      "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
      - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Interesting responses....

        Some quotes from Dressage Today article

        Declarative
        "Stretching exercises can make your body as supple and elastic as you want your horse to be. Then not only are you able to sit in the middle of the your, you're able to use the left and right sides of your body equally."

        Procedural
        "Try this: Stand with your knees lightly bent as if you were in the saddle and keep your hips facing forward. Now see how far your shoulders and upper body can rotate to the left and then to the right, keeping your hips straight and forward."
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        • #5
          Book learning versus experience.

          Problem is that the book learning more likely to be "correct", while experience may not be. One can fall into some very bad habits with experiential learning. What we learn through personal experience is far more powerful and changing than what we learn second hand. Teachers can talk and talk about what to do and how to feel, but until the student does it and actually feels it, it won't have the same OMG quality.

          Example--how to hold a lead rope. You can hear and hear about the dangers of having your hand in a loop of a lead, but until you've experienced that loop tightening around your hand, it's just an academic proposition.
          "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
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          • #6
            I'm not quite sure why we need yet more complicated words that won't be interpreted or remembered correctly.......
            Siegi Belz
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            2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
            Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by siegi b. View Post
              I'm not quite sure why we need yet more complicated words that won't be interpreted or remembered correctly.......
              so someone can write an article or a book and coin terms that no one uses in real life but describe what many already do.
              bad decisions make good stories

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by siegi b. View Post
                I'm not quite sure why we need yet more complicated words that won't be interpreted or remembered correctly.......
                If you Google the terms you will find that they are well used in other disciplines.

                I found that these concepts illuminated a huge deficit in much riding instruction. Riders are often advised what should be ("horse should be supple, forward, response to your leg, etc.") but they are not educated in how to accomplish these things.

                It is very curious that riders are willing to investigate/accept new concepts in joint supplements, blankets, therapeutic wraps, saddle trees, metallurgy for bits, designs for boots, etc but when asked to consider new (to them) concepts in education and learning, they balk like a green horse refusing to cross a puddle. And with similar reasoning .
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                • #9
                  Oh, I am not saying that they are not valuble terms to break down the educational experience. And IMHO, I think many people subconciously differentiate the "way I should" from the "way I do". Just look at parents who say "Do as I say, not as I do".

                  I just am a cynic. It seems like there are new terms applied to many areas of our sport that take away from the actual learning of the "How to Ride" process.
                  As a parallel, there have been at least 5 different terms for a child who has impaired brain development in my life time. And I am not really that old. Essentially, the problem hasn't changed, just the label.
                  bad decisions make good stories

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by siegi b. View Post
                    I'm not quite sure why we need yet more complicated words that won't be interpreted or remembered correctly.......
                    It's two words. Not an entire new language And no one is demanding you even interpret or remember them, if they are too complicated for you.

                    I think it's a valid discussion and Isabeau highlights some excellent points. The use of these terms, imo, are beneficial to clarity within such a discussion; doesn't mean a person has to even use the terms out at the barn.

                    On a related note, declarative knowledge is necessary imo so as to correctly guide an individual if they are to learn correct procedural knowledge. Procedural knowledge is unarguably of greater benefit and more powerful than declarative knowledge, but this is not to take away from the importance of declarative knowledge.

                    Deficits certainly exist. As an occasional instructor (horse and non-horse), it can be difficult to bridge that gap at times and with certain students, especially as it pertains to horses because there are so many variables involved. I'd have to think more on it to contribute more.


                    (Eta: sorry, just rubs me the wrong way when someone has nothing but negativity to add to a valid discussion, especially when I've heard this exact argument in the (recent) past as it pertains to other terms/words. If the words don't jive with you, don't use them, simple as that. No use whining. No one is asking you to use, or even say, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. It's two terms that are about as complicated as any of the other words we use. Others should be free to use such words as they find them useful in conversation. Sorry!!! Maybe I should go make myself some caffeinated tea? I swear, no one pissed in my cornflakes this morning - I didn't even have cornflakes!!! LOL!)
                    Last edited by naturalequus; Jun. 17, 2011, 10:47 AM.
                    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Isabeau Z Solace View Post
                      I found that these concepts illuminated a huge deficit in much riding instruction. Riders are often advised what should be ("horse should be supple, forward, response to your leg, etc.") but they are not educated in how to accomplish these things.
                      You might not have had good teacher then.
                      Usually, with such comments like 'get the horse more supple' should come some directions. Use of the inside rein, more inside leg, stay straight and don't collapse on that inside hip...and so on.

                      BUT there is a limit to what can be taught.

                      Riding is about feeling. How can you teach 'the feel' of things?
                      You can explain only what you feel, use metaphores, big words and all (talk the talk and read books) but in the end, the student must 'feel' by himself and decide if 'this feeling' is good or not. (walk the walk and experiences)

                      Being light to the leg.

                      Ex: Trainer is riding the horse and is putting X amount of leg to make it move. Everything looks lovely. Horse is light.

                      Rider is riding the same horse and is putting Y amount of leg to make it move. Everything looks lovely and trainer is happy with result. Horse is light.

                      They are not putting the same amount of pressure to obtain the 'so called' same result. Who is putting the right amount of leg pressure? What is the amount of pressure that really should be put on with the leg to make this horse move?

                      The horse should be light to the rider's leg. When you touch it, he should respond. More leg, more whip, some voice cues, less seat, more seat...that is all there is to know and to teach. The rest is just about personal 'feel'. And at some point, the 'feel' can't be 'taught' with words.

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by AlterBy View Post
                        BUT there is a limit to what can be taught.

                        The horse should be light to the rider's leg. When you touch it, he should respond. More leg, more whip, some voice cues, less seat, more seat...that is all there is to know and to teach. The rest is just about personal 'feel'. And at some point, the 'feel' can't be 'taught' with words.
                        That may be all that some know how to teach, but feel can be taught using words.

                        A bridge or a building can be built using diagrams. Experience is required, but no matter how experienced the builder, precise diagrams and plans are needed. To build even more complex structures, more experience and 'feel' are needed, but those are never divorced from very detailed plans.

                        It is common that riding instruction is attempted minus the very detailed instructions.

                        AlterBy I wonder exactly what is meant by your example directive of "more seat, less seat?"

                        That is rather like directing a bridge builder to 'build more supports.' How many? What shape? How tall? How thick? Made of what material? Placed where? Supported by what?
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Isabeau Z Solace View Post
                          A bridge or a building can be built using diagrams. Experience is required, but no matter how experienced the builder, precise diagrams and plans are needed. To build even more complex structures, more experience and 'feel' are needed, but those are never divorced from very detailed plans.

                          It is common that riding instruction is attempted minus the very detailed instructions.

                          AlterBy I wonder exactly what is meant by your example directive of "more seat, less seat?"

                          That is rather like directing a bridge builder to 'build more supports.' How many? What shape? How tall? How thick? Made of what material? Placed where? Supported by what?
                          How can you try to compare building a bridge and riding horses?

                          Horseback riding has nothing to do with an exact science.
                          What kind of details are you looking for??

                          That may be all that some know how to teach, but feel can be taught using words.
                          No you cannot teach 'feel'. You can describe feelings. About what YOU feel. But there is no way you can teach someone how to feel. No one can 'feel' the same. Feeling is something intangible.

                          Could you say to a rider : '' put 10 grams of pressure with your legs'' ?

                          You could be following every directives of every books in the world and still end up with a crooked messed up horse.

                          You could be following every directives said by all the instructors in the world and still end up with a crooked messed up horse.
                          (and for both, not understanding why or not even knowing you have a crooked messed up horse!)

                          A rider need to listen to its feeling, towards himself, the horse and his trainer. Understand what is going on (reactions from trainer, horse and himself) and work from there. Riding is a personal quest and just can't be generalized and put into one detailed diagram. Yes, there is the Pyramid Training Scale...why isn't more detailed? Don't you think that the German would have done so if it was possible?

                          More seat, less seat : I was being general at using the seat as an aid. Plenty of way to use more or less your seat to influence or just follow the horse. Same goes for hands, legs, whip, spurs...(also, maybe my english is more or less comprehensible! Sorry.... )

                          There was a good quote from Müseler regarding the fact that he didn't put pictures in his instruction books. If I remember correctly, it was because he didn't believe you could take a picture of 'feelings' or 'perfection'. He was aiming riders who had the desire to imitate the 'picture' of perfectness against such false truth.

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                          • #14
                            The way it's described in the OP's last post makes it sound more like goals and objectives. Determine your goals (and they can be tiny); then focus on the objectives that will reach that goal--the concrete "how to"s. That gives you individual lesson plans that have to be really well organized.

                            The differences between the two types of knowledge has been known and used for as long as I can remember; the education jargon is just one form of description.
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                            • #15
                              naturalequus - if nobody "pissed in your cornflakes" then why don't you quit acting like somebody did?

                              Having spent many years in a business that revolved around dealing with people, and lots of them, what I was trying to say is that the problem doesn't go away by throwing bigger words at it.

                              Just read through the posts and you will find that folks continue to question the definitions of "procedural vs. declarative knowledge" and I'm not so sure that even Isabeau who started the thread really understands it all, either. I question why we don't keep to words that everybody understands and that are not so open to interpretation?

                              The way to get people to understand what you're trying to get them to do is to break things down into easy-to-understand, little tasks, talk them through it slowly, and then repeat the whole process.

                              So why don't we then say "here is what I want you to do, and here is how you do it. Any questions?" This can be accompanied by actual demonstrations in case the instructor has a hard time explaining "how" to do it. No need to then ask "and which is the declarative or procedural part of it"?

                              And now I hope that dear naturalequus doesn't think I was being negative again....
                              Siegi Belz
                              www.stalleuropa.com
                              2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
                              Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.

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                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by siegi b. View Post

                                Just read through the posts and you will find that folks continue to question the definitions of "procedural vs. declarative knowledge" and I'm not so sure that even Isabeau who started the thread really understands it all, either. I question why we don't keep to words that everybody understands and that are not so open to interpretation?
                                No scientific or investigative inquiry can proceed strictly on the 'words' of the past. As new things are discovered, new ideas and words are developed.

                                As I mentioned earlier, people are plenty willing to accept 'new' concepts like joint injections, 'better' designed saddles, 'better' footing, 'safer' helmets, etc, etc.

                                I question the notion to begin with that there are words that "everybody understands." Nonsense. If 'everybody understood' then there would be no need for articles in magazines and books attempting to explain what 'everyone understands' over, and over, and over again in a variety of different ways.

                                AlterBy suggested that one could use more or less "seat," but I do not think we all have the same understanding of 'seat,' or even more or less.

                                siegib - In order to have a discussion of concepts, on must discuss concepts. Statements such as " I'm not so sure that even Isabeau who started the thread really understands it all, either" are more like personal attacks than discussion of concept. You chose to step aside from the concept and theorize about my ignorance, instead of addressing the proposed topic. Theorizing about my ignorance doesn't do much to open doors and explore ideas.
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                                • #17
                                  Isabeau - how can you say I didn't address the proposed topic? I say I did and gave an easier-to-understand alternative..... Just because I didn't use the words "procedural or declarative" doesn't mean I didn't address the topic. And I'm not trying to "theorize about your ignorance" -merely questioning your methods and (lack of?) logic.
                                  Siegi Belz
                                  www.stalleuropa.com
                                  2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
                                  Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.

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                                  • #18
                                    Every discipline has its own jargon. The magic words are the keys to the kingdom. They are the shorthand that unlocks concepts, but to outsiders the magic words have little extra meaning or value. Unless you understand the concepts that the shorthand jargon describes, the jargon is another way to bar the uninitiated from the mysteries.

                                    "Indirect outside rein of opposition", for example.
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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
                                      Every discipline has its own jargon. The magic words are the keys to the kingdom. They are the shorthand that unlocks concepts, but to outsiders the magic words have little extra meaning or value. Unless you understand the concepts that the shorthand jargon describes, the jargon is another way to bar the uninitiated from the mysteries.

                                      "Indirect outside rein of opposition", for example.
                                      Beautifully said, Viney!!! (Bolding is mine)
                                      Siegi Belz
                                      www.stalleuropa.com
                                      2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
                                      Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Isabeau Z Solace View Post
                                        That may be all that some know how to teach, but feel can be taught using words.
                                        I wonder about this. Ray Hunt always said the two things he could not teach was Timing & Feel. Said you had to learn those on your own.

                                        To a great degree I believe this to be true.

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