Four kinds of comprehension

This morning I've been pondering the possibility of comprehension getting produced by peer-2-peer dynamics. I'm foreseeing wonderful possibilities in collaborative approaches that reduce the expert content to being a mere catalyst. I'll write more about all that in the near term. When I'm exploring different ways to cultivate comprehension, I rely on a framework of four kinds which call for four different production strategies. Here's a brief look at that framework:
  • Academic comprehension can be machine graded. The complexity of any deeper or more useful comprehension gets reduced to one right answer on multiple choice questions. Academic comprehension grasps definitions, categories and conceptual abstractions. It avoids those messy gray areas where categorical precision breaks down. Materials designed to cultivate academic comprehension include textbooks, visual aids. study guides and lectures.
  • Commercial comprehension can be demonstrated by personal conduct. The skill, method, technique or routine gets comprehended by doing it repeatedly. Comprehension yields reliability, self-correction and consistency. It pays to know how to do these things the right way to comply with an employer's policies, job descriptions, work flows and best practices. Experiences designed to cultivate commercial comprehension include imitation of an exemplar, practice drills and games to be played by the rules.
  • Pragmatic comprehension can be demonstrated by successfully troubleshooting a malfunction. The diagnostic protocols, analytical frameworks and predictive models get comprehended by applying them to many varied situations with feedback about the outcomes. Pragmatic comprehension is intended to effect the situation getting understood. The comprehension may resolve, alleviate, de-escalate, redirect, liberate, transform or eliminate the situation. Experiences designed to cultivate pragmatic comprehension include scenarios, immersive role plays and internships.
  • Paradoxical comprehension can be demonstrated by knowing when to forego this comprehension. The understanding of the comprehension in context realizes how to keep it in balance with other concerns, time it's application, disrupt excessive pursuits and apply it judiciously. Paradoxical comprehension grasps a whole understanding of it's categorical opposite, reversed application and larger set for which it is a subset. A paradoxical comprehension may show how to get the result by doing nothing and how to solve the problem by making it worse. Experiences designed to cultivate paradoxical comprehension include contradictory valid arguments to resolve and recursive phenomena to explain.


  1. Tēnā koe e Tom.

    Of all that you've listed, I find the paradoxical comprehension the most interesting. If I have interpreted you correctly, it is the one comprehension that anticipates shifts in a complexity system. As such it would be the champion of comprehensions.

    If I'm not mistaken, it is paradoxical comprehension that permits genuine artistic and aesthetic minimalist creativity - true grace of an impromptu artist - supreme tact in diplomacy - the insight to perform a true heroic act in the face of seemingly unconquerable adversity.

    In a hierarchy of comprehensions this must be the most difficult to clearly define - I think you've done well to convey it in what you summarised here - for it embraces complexity.

    Catchya later

  2. Tēnā koe e Ken
    Thanks for enriching the brief paragraph on paradoxical comprehension. You've captured a lot of what I've been sensing is its potential value, impact and uses.

    Here's to the "champion of comprehensions"!