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  

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
> >

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