Knowledge is important to your future and to my future. However, those involved in education, speak as though the education sector is the entire key to the development of a Knowledge Society. University staff and politicians are most at fault here.
Most adults know that the lessons of life, work and relationships are much more powerful than almost anything one might learn from a book or from a lesson. So the key to becoming a knowledge society is to give people the skills to identify, record, understand and use that everyday knowledge. It seems to me that those valuable skills are never taught.
Vague Ideas: Any new idea begins as a "vague idea" and idea that is difficult to express and fragile in it's existence. Our vague ideas need social reinforcement if they are to grow and develop. Our private and social conversations either feed our developing ideas or kill them. We learn on the playing field, at work and in our daily interaction with other people. Both acceptance and rejection have the power to give our objectives energy; to give our actions purpose and meaning. We need to be strongly engaged with a challenge to generate new and creative ideas. Real dialogue about any idea demands expression of the idea in a way that is meaningful to other people. The ability to do that demands a degree of courage, an degree of trust, and a good measure of practical understanding of other people.
Personal Investment: Only individuals learn. Your brain, your thinking engine belongs to you as a person, not to a group you belong to or to any organisation. You don't learn from what you hear or read or from anything you are told. You spend all day being closed to the cascade of messages and advertisements and demands. To survive you function in "off mode" most of the day. To learn anything you have to turn on, you need to engage with the message, with the person, and with the situation. To learn you need to DO something with the content you have now recognised. Do several things with it, rather than a single thing. Make it relevant. Repeat it, write it down, discuss it, make a mind map, prepare a summary, tell somebody else, all these doing activities are part of a real learning process that YOU have to do. Nobody else can train your brain.
Social Commitment: We are social animals. It's very hard to live in a social group and sustain for yourself ideas that the group does not approve of. The social climate in which I live constrains what questions I can ask, preselects what topics are important, and what data I'm likely to have access to. We all carry prejudice. When someone we know and respect supports a viewpoint we have personally rejected, that can be an opportunity to look again at our own motives. Once we make a public commitment in one direction it's very hard to re-examine the facts and review our position. Being part of a group gives us energy and enthusiasm to explore new ideas and to persist with difficult tasks. The group feeds you ideas, and in turn feeds on your ideas. This process forces us to invest time, but the activity gives us nourishment in return. A good group helps you to grow: it makes having an open future© possible.
Research Skills: We all need personal research skills to maintain our own data about our lives. Do things like keeping a daily record. Counting and recording everyday things that matter to you. Asking yourself questions that you write down, research and explore over time. Speculating about possible answers to problems you've identified. Seeking wisdom and knowledge that might relate to the many questions you have. Maintaining a record that you can refer back to 10, 15 and 20 years later. People who can do this are life-long learners. People who do this sort of work have their own knowledge that they take into every new situation. Armed with their own knowledge people are able to contribute in a meaningful way. Almost everyone has their own opinion. Very few people have any collected data at all which might be used to verify or revise that opinion. With your own data you become a valuable potential partner in other people's ventures. You become the sort of person other people want to collaborate with.
Knowledge: Knowledge is becoming a currency like money. You have to have your own knowledge (and money). You can't get it from someone else. You can't even get it in school or university, you have to get it by your own personal effort and research. In this sense having your own knowledge is like being physically fit. Passing an exam some time in the past doesn't really count. The question is what knowledge do you have now? What is your own experience, what did you observe and what data did you collect and what does that teach you? Armed with this personal understanding what can you do that other people canít do?
Creative Minds: It's important to understand that while somebody with knowledge may write an essay or prepare a specification or a map for others to use, that personal knowledge cannot be directly accessed. For that reason the knowledge can never be stolen. Your ideas may be copied but it's not possible to replicate the thinking tool of the person with the expertise. Your own experience is unique. If you have invested a lifetime in quality experiences and in understanding some specialist topic you have an ability that cannot be reproduced. People with expertise are not interchangeable parts. This ability to make sense of data is uniquely your own. Sense does not exist in the data set until someone with the appropriate expertise shows how to make the data intelligible.
Schooling is not the key to a knowledge society. Education might be. Education is a gift you give yourself so you can have an Open Future©.
Open Future Index