How things change…

I often talk about how fast knowledge changes. Research, cross-industry collaborations, and technology are driving knowledge development at the fastest pace in the history of humanity. ASTD and others have suggested that our global knowledge doubles every 18 months (some say it’s much faster). Berkley’s How much information study shows remarkable increases in information between 2001 and 2003 (I’m not going to get into the information/knowledge distinction – it’s a waste of my young life).

Susan Spero brought an interesting discussion to my attention a few weeks ago – namely “is Pluto a planet”. Most of us have grown up knowing there were nine planets. Now there are only eight (or twelve…or whatever). Different types of knowledge change more rapidly (consider technology over gardening). Yet even the most stable knowledge sources change as new information, theories, and views emerge.

We have designed education to promote certainty (i.e. a state of knowing)…we now need to design education to be adaptable (i.e. a process of knowing).

3 Responses to “How things change…”

  1. karyn_romeis says:

    Within two days, I have read that there are eight and twelve planets in our solar system. Who do I believe? This is the dilemma that will face our children. I posted on choosing your expert a while ago, and I maintain that it is a skill we will need to teach.
    But teachers will also need to learn to take these things into account when assessing learning.
    I heard of an incident some years ago when a class had to assign the values “Certain” and “Probable” to a list of statements. One of the statements was “I will die”. Almost everyone rated that a certainty (nothing so sure as death and taxes, right?), but one Christian child in the class, in the light of his belief in the Rapture, had marked the statement “Probable”. Who was the teacher to say he was wrong?

  2. When I was young I was told there were six colours in the spectrum (I even learned a little song that names them). Now I’m told there are seven – they added indigo somewhere along the line.
    I have refused to accept indigo. So far as I’m concerned, there are still six colours in the spectrum.
    Now they are telling me that Pluto is not a planet. Again, I refuse to accept that. So far as I am concerned, Pluto is a planet (and so are Ceres, Xena and Sedna).
    Sure, there are authorities that will tell me that there are seven colours in the spectrum and eight planets in the solar system. But on what basis am I required to accept their definition?
    I have concluded: none. If I decide there are six colours, or twelve planets, that’s up to me. And – my take is – there’s no reason why society can’t allow both.
    It is the idea that there is only one distinct number of colours, or number of planets, that is wrong, and not any particular list of them.
    Try it. Try thinking this way. It is incredibly, extraordinarily, liberating.

  3. allan says:

    With so much changing information the entire educational system needs to change.
    We need to quit distributing knowledge and start teaching how to discover.
    and re-discover