Let's keep it simple. Schools and universities (globally identifiable as 'the education industry') have traditionally fulfilled the role of fountains of knowledge. This is fine, up to the point where we realise that we no longer need to attend these places if all we want is knowledge (accumulated expertise, understanding of a field, the specific technical low-down necessary to gain a foothold in a certain area.) Increasingly the Internet fulfils this function in a direct and powerful way. It also presents a lot of pratfalls as well - as Brent was very hasty in pointing out, but then I would call 'using the Internet responsibly' a skill that probably cannot be learnt easily from the Internet. This is an example of what I mean when I say education should now teach skills rather than knowledge. I am not talking either about the vocational skills that many employers hotly desire from the education sector although nobody could deny that those skills should be taught as well.
Above all what needs to be taught is the skill of thinking. Not compartmentalised, specialised, academic thinking, but OPERACY - how to get a result in a real and changing world. Bruno has referred (in his 'amoebas" dissertation) to the value of posing questions in a childlike manner. Children have not yet submitted to "the brainwashing known as academic specialisation". He has uttered a profound and above all, a useful truth in mentioning this, IMO. Have you ever tried to stand upright on a carpet that somebody is pulling along the floor from one end? Difficult. Ever learnt to ride a surfboard? Similar skill. The world around you is changing fast and you must strive to maintain some kind of relation to it that is useful. My point is that education fails badly to teach this kind of skill. Every banker, every businessman, every politician, every company boss, every worker, everybody in fact is "flying by the seat of his pants" right now but education remains smugly complacent about it's self- serving tradition. Kids go to school and learn to memorise a bunch of stuff, they sit for exams and in so doing mandate the school to set those exams and teach the stuff in the first place. The more you think about it the more circular it seems. It's not for nothing that we talk often about the 'education bubble'. By this we mean that in a certain sense, education is not the real world. The teacher puts something in front of the student. The student reacts to this using the vocabulary of knowledge taught up to that point. This means the teacher is always ahead of the student which is what lends the teacher their air of authority. In the 'real world' it isn't as simple as that. You have to invent initiatives and use risk-taking strategies to get ahead, increasingly we must do this on a daily basis now to even survive. There is no school subject, for example, that teaches "economic survival following job redundancy", yet millions of people are facing precisely this dilemma right now. In a certain sense their education has taught them little of real value. Don't forget about "the archway effect". This states that if a number of brilliant people are sent under an archway, then it is highly likely that from that archway will stream a number of brilliant people. You have to be brilliant to get in to Harvard. They don't take in the class 'dunce' in these institutions. The institution thus benefits more from the quality of the students than the students benefit from the quality of the institution. Because of the unavoidable tradition of historical continuity in education - which grew up, after all in the church, the least likely institution to welcome any form of new knowledge or innovation - education is marked by all the drawbacks associated with an overweening respect for 'historical continuity'. It is difficult to break with the patterns of the past. Teaching, education - call it whatever you want, was for a long time in the hands of ecclesiastical authorities who founded the vast majority of our elite educational institutions (not ULB - a good point in its favour) and so established the traditions of education. I often harp on about the need to teach 'creative thinking' in my posts. Note that by this I do NOT mean artistic thinking but generative, innovative and risk-taking thinking generally. Critical thinking was and still is of paramount importance in the ecclesiastical world since it has proven the most effective weapon against heresy and deviation and since that world consists of concept edifices that must have internal consistency and validity if they are not to be overrun by outside ideas that would cause them to appear relativistic and thus to risk collapse. But all that is very far from the practical, messy world in which people have to think (often with very inadequate data) in order to solve problems and bring things about. Critical intelligence is very valuable. Critical thinking is an essential part of thinking. But critical thinking can never be the whole of thinking. The apostolic succession of educators in posts involving tenure and high levels of job security mirrors the smugness with which the education world holds its historical continuity in high esteem. It is highly amusing for me to see a computer scientist and systems architect such as Steve Wolfram innovating in such a way as to make these people seem less and less relevant. Wolfram has his detractors for sure, many people think he is a bullshit artist, but he is also a risk-taking entrepreneur who has little regard for the sanctity of education institutions to claim some kind of monopoly in the knowledge game. Bruno speaks often of 'interdisciplinarity'. This is the need to escape specialisation, rather than to embrace it. Increasingly, I see this as the safe path for education in the future. We all know about the professor of quantum mechanics who was so expert in his field, he could not even work out how to buy sex in a brothel. I think they made a movie about it starring Marlene Dietrich. It is also true that the people who are the most likely to innovate in any field are not the hidebound ones, the pedants and the experts who act like oracles of all truth and wisdom. Anyone who claims to be an 'expert' at something is by definition expert in the state of knowledge up to that point. The expert's judgement is based on the past. The expert's judgement is based on what IS rather than what CAN BE. The expert is always being asked for expert opinions. The expert cannot risk his or her reputation. So the expert does need to stay on the side of caution. Better to say that something cannot be done, rather than to say that it can be done and to be responsible for some mistake. Experts are the guardians of the past and people expect them to be so. They are like priests of knowledge. A so-called 'expert' in QM has been telling me for ages how stupid all of you people are for imagining that MWI makes any sense. He laughs like a drain when I describe to him Bruno's teleportation gedanken experiment. He simply 'knows' that it is all fancy make-believe and that we are all engaged in some kind of new-age nonsense here. He is highly educated and highly respected as a teacher. Experts (specialists) once declared that for a rocket to get to the moon it would have to weigh a million tons. Experts once calculated that the total world market for computers would be just eight computers. These particular experts worked for the Xerox corporation. We all know what happened to Xerox in a fast-changing world. Experts once declared that the telephone was nothing more than an electronic toy. These days, everybody can stake out their field and research whatever they want. Life, however, is increasingly demanding that we all specialise a little bit in many areas. As Bruno says, his own field of thought is on the cusp of math, biology, psychology, theology, physics, logic, computer science etc. Descartes said that it would be best to teach all the sciences as one. Increasingly, the Internet is the EXPERT and we are the fuzzy, creative innovators who design new fields of endeavour with our vast realms of knowledge. A kind of emergence phenomenon, if you will. Kim Jones On 11/03/2009, at 2:40 AM, John Mikes wrote: > Kim, > this seems to be a so far undiscussed domain and I have some concerns. > > First off: the English usage mixes up 'education' with 'teaching'. > Schools have a task to transform unformatted teen-beasts into > constructive beings, what I call 'education'. That may be a very > controversial thing, because the aim of such transformation may be > questionable (by many) - e.g. in the Ottoman Empire the education of > the Janissaries produced uniform and brainwashed efficient killers. > But this is subject to intelligent evaluation. > > Secondly: relying on 'online' provided knowledge eliminates the > shame of the student (Sorry, teach, I did not do my homework) - > which is a powerful educational momentum in raising responsible > people. More importantly the 'piped' ('wired', or rather: > 'wirelessed') science is uncontrolled and depends on the choosing > skill of the 'pupil' - if he so decides. > > There are benedits (besides weaknesses, of course) in having a 'live > and knowledgeable' teacher who verbally and demostratingly interacts > with his pupils. Benefit: experience and accumulated knowledge plus > the chance to simultaneously "educate" (see above). Weakness: the > choice WHAT is to be included in such 'knowledge' to be taught. > > I fully agree with 'creative thinking' to be included. What happened > to those who have no resonance to the selected versions of it? (They > may be very talented in different domains). E.g. in a music school > 'composing' may be considered the 'creative', what only a fraction > of talented musicians can muster (master?). How many Eifels. > Fultons, Bunsens were among the many million engineers who were > instrumental in developing our advanced technology? Creativity > should be encouraged, not made a fundmental in 'education'. > Disciplined well-founded professional knowoledge should prevail. > > This maybe a bit conservative position of mine has a side-line to > feed it: > electronic libraries cannot replace a hard-copy self-stored one and > this is obvious to all who worked with old fashioned libraries > successfully. The main benefit: if you can stand before the shelf of > the particular topic and browse SOME similar-topic BOOKS you get > ideas what you can check instantaneously in a neighboring book - or > in the same book sticking your finger to the page where you were. No > Googling from 3,467,390 (or more) entries. Electronics is good for > checking and responding once the topic is fixed. Even in responding > you get only to a select audience, not as with an experienced > teacher, who 'knows' the different schools under divers keys. > > All that is hard to explain to the generation which never did > efficient research using old fashioned hard-copy libraries' lit- > search. Whoever did not experienced "better" will not accept that it > can exist. > > I wonder if Bruno would like to give a list of URLs to youngsters > and tell them: "here is math/physics, learn it!" - I will teach only > UDA and further. > > I appreciate the efforts vested into AI - as preparatory for the > time when we really (will) know the "I" (intelligence and its > workings) to make an artificial approach for its mechanisation. > Maybe a better contraption is also needed for such than our present > binary embryonic - level toy. > > John M > On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 8:59 PM, Kim Jones <kimjo...@ozemail.com.au> > wrote: > http://www.kurzweilai.net/email/newsRedirect.html?newsID=10240&m=41581 > > > Universities and schools should now re-invent themselves. We no > longer need any "institution" to dole out knowledge because all (non- > fuzzy factual) knowledge can be downloaded from the Net. > > Education can now only have a future by teaching skills - meaning: > what you DO with that knowledge, also how to invent the future > without having to continually compare every new idea to existing > knowledge - the current paradigm and way too slow. Time is running > out fast. > > Hint: teach creative thinking > > Huh? What's that? Don't we already do that? etc. > > > cheers, > > Kim Jones > > > There are no surprising facts about reality, only models of it that > are surprised by facts > > > > > Email: > kmjco...@mac.com > kimjo...@ozemail.com.au > > Web: > http://web.mac.com/kmjcommp/Plenitude_Music > > Phone: > (612) 9389 4239 or 0431 723 001 > > > > > > > --~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~ You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group. 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