The first thing we are going to do before analyzing the meaning of the term apprehend is to know its etymological origin. In this case, we can say that it is a word that derives from Latin, exactly from the verb “apprehendere” that can be translated as “catch”. It is the result of the sum of the following components:
-The prefix “ad-“, which means “towards”.
-The component “prae-“, which is synonymous with “before”.
-The verb “hendere”, which is equivalent to “grab” or “catch”.
The concept of apprehend may refer to capturing, catching or picking up something or someone. For example: “An agent tried to apprehend the criminal, but the young assailant managed to escape”, “The police mounted an operation with the objective of apprehending the terrorists”, “The judge ordered the apprehension of the singer for the crime of fraud”.
The idea of apprehending is also used as a synonym for learning, according to the second meaning mentioned in the dictionary. The action consists of the acquisition of knowledge.
It is usual, however, that apprehending is used with reference to “capturing” that knowledge: that is, to make it one’s own. The person who apprehends something gets it for himself and guarantees to have it forever or, at least, for a long period. Therefore, to apprehend implies to understand perfectly the information, assimilating it and being able to reuse it from the own interpretation.
In this sense, learning a lesson to repeat it and thus passing an exam is not the same as apprehending the data and assimilating it. A student can complete a course with good grades and yet not have a real mastery of the subjects. On the other hand, those who really manage to apprehend the contents increase their intellectual heritage and may, in the future, turn to these symbolic tools that are already part of their being.
From these ideas, it can be affirmed that, when reading a text, a person can learn (and repeat or “use” the information) or apprehend (interpret and reinterpret the information).
Precisely for all the above, apprehending takes on special prominence within education and, above all, in subjects such as philosophy. And it is that the teachers who teach this consider that the final objective to achieve with the classes is that their students learn. Of course, because it is the way that they can not only assimilate the knowledge but also compare it with each other and even establish their logic.
Furthermore, in the philosophical branch, apprehending is necessary to subject everything that is exposed to criticism. In this way, students will get to have the “tools” necessary to reason, to analyze anything in their life, to compare it and even to understand it and know how to act before it.
Yes, they will have the ability to question the questions that are raised, to refute them and even to reaffirm them through the corresponding arguments. Some learnings that will not only be important for class but for life in general, both in the present and in the future.