Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Old Knowledge

Master Po: [after easily defeating the boy in combat] Ha, ha, never assume because a man has no eyes he cannot see. Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Master Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Young Caine: No.
Master Po: Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet?
Young Caine: [looking down and seeing the insect] Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Master Po
: Young man, how is it that you do not?
-from the TV series, "Kung Fu"


There was an interesting exchange recently between technology guru and visionary Clay Burell and a young, articulate up-and-comer, Arthus regarding the value of content knowledge.

After receiving a mediocre score on an interactive geography quiz, Arthus remarked
"I’ll leave the geography facts to Google. I’ll do the thinking."
Clay responded,
"I don’t buy your 'geographic facts are unimportant compared to real thinking' implication.

Geopolitics, regional wars, and a million other things start with knowing where places are, what places surround them, the history of relations, the resources, etc etc.

That fact-base takes time to stew and congeal into a worldview and theoretical base... Foundational knowledge of facts is a prerequisite for nuanced thinking "
Arthus countered
"Ah… but I have the sense to Google something before I pretend to know about it."
A seemingly innocuous exchange, but it reflects two distinct schools of thought regarding the object of education: should we modify curriculum in favor of outcome-based education? Is it enough to possess the skills to access information or does content-based learning still have value? What do students need to acquire in the educational system to become successful adults? Should schools focus on skills and process?

What does a successful learner look like?


"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information." -T. S. Eliot


"Reflective grasshopper" by Cowboy Dave

1 comment:

Nick said...

I did your meme! Hope you like it.