At home, alone with our computers, it seems that we surely have all the information at our fingertips that we might ever need. Someone recently asked me why on earth we need “schools” of any kind. Have you begun to wonder that too?
Carl Sagan said, “We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements. . . profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster.” John Naisbitt said, “We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.”
Information has to do with facts, data, visualizations, specifics and organization for a purpose. We must have it to gain knowledge, but it is NOT knowledge.
What is knowledge? How does it differ from information?
Knowledge, has to do with experiences, skills, understandings, truths, principles and the power to do or make. Knowledge requires daily interaction with stuff and with people. It has to do with patterns noticed, examined and discussed. It has to do with models that make it useful. It requires something from the persons involved: the ability to think, to verify and to analyze.
Helen Keller said, ” Knowledge is love and light and vision.
Recently, it seems that my mind keeps drifting back to the brilliant insights of visionary, George B. Leonard, author of Education and Ecstasy.
He suggests three basic assumptions which I deeply believe are true but are generally unknown and unacknowledged by most of the population:
1. The human potential is infinitely greater than we have been led to believe.
2. Learning is sheer delight (when not devoid of the ecstatic moment).
3. Learning itself is life’s ultimate purpose.
“What we fail to acknowledge, Leonard states, is that every child starts out as an Archimedes, a Handel, a Nietzsche. The eight-month-old who succeeds in balancing one block on another has made a connection no less momentous for him than Nietzsche’s.”
And then Leonard quotes Einstein: “It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry. . . It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.”
Leonard then penned these beautiful and powerful words, which perhaps speak to me deeply after weeks in a frozen landscape:
“And yet, life and joy cannot be subdued. The blade of grass shatters the concrete. The spring flowers bloom in Hiroshima. . . ”