Kim, great post, thanks!
You may enjoy this TED talk: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html As to your "laughing" friend, I also know some such people, they have in truth not understood what science is about: asking questions, being critical (especially self-critical!); science is a method, an algorithm for arriving at knowledge, never the current canon of knowledge (which will be an old hat in a decade). People which laugh at everything that does not fit into their world-view are not scientific, just dogmatic. They believe in textbook knowledge from college times, which may be the snapshot of scientific modelling at a particular time, but, it's still not the _idea_ of science. Cheers, Günther Kim Jones wrote: > 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 --~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~ You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group. To post to this group, send email to everything-l...@googlegroups.com To unsubscribe from this group, send email to everything-list+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list?hl=en -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---