Kant first introduced the concept of schema. It is the internal landscape that we use to interpret the world around us. How we make sense of our perceptions.
We are standing at a street corner, the light turns red and the walk sign ahead is illuminated. We step out into the street although a car that is coming down the street is still moving. We are, at that precious moment, with an understanding based on our internal schema, deciding it is safe to proceed.
Every day, every moment, we are stepping out into the world based on perceptions interpreted through our internal schema.
One way to think of schema is as our personal pattern language of meaning - a meaning-matrix. It is how we make sense of our personal experiences to shape our current understanding of the world.
What the great learning theorist jean-piaget came to understand, is that there are two types of learning, one that which deepens our understanding of our current schema and one that actually reconfigures our schema.