Posts Tagged ‘education’

I am interested in learning as a process of knowledge acquisition. The first requirement for learning is a place for knowledge storing and the ability to transfer this knowledge. Information storage is called memory. Memory for most of us means  storage room for information. Memory is associated with brain, computer memory, hard drive, flash cards, memory stick… I also remember old-fashioned books and another written material. However, the oldest, the most efficient, the most widespread method of information storing is the DNA molecule.

The DNA molecule contains genes that have more information about humans than a human can learn in his life. Those molecules can effectively transfer information. Moreover they can learn. They change, storing information corresponding to the changing environment.

There is a common opinion among DNA that life is only the equipment for their existence.

A teacher (in Galactive) is the manager of knowledge creation   Prophets have always understood that foretelling needs to be made in a vague style.  Future prediction is a very difficult business, especially when you forecast something specific. However, if you predict for an undetermined period of time nobody can catch your mistake. To say that the teaching profession won’t last, doesn’t take courage. On the contrary, in saying that the teaching profession would never disappear (“Never say never”)  you take a chance. I will take this chance because I believe that this profession is an integral part of every human society.

Lately,  we hear more and more about the end of the teaching profession and this forecast is based mostly on these arguments:

  1. It isn’t the first extinct profession. It happens. It will happen again.
  2. World-wide diminution of the teacher’s role. Maybe this diminution is only the first step to extinction.
  3. New technology in education could bring alternatives.

The first. Some professions died while others have a long history and don’t give signs of future extinction. The second group consists from those that are there because of human nature (thieves for example) or those which satisfy the human necessary needs (fortune teller for example). Teachers have both components. People like to teach (at least some of them). Teachers help to transfer and process knowledge which satisfies the human society’s needs.

The second is simple. A bad attitude toward a profession says nothing about its longevity. Low opinion of politicians in society doesn’t say that this profession will have a problem of existence in the future.

The third one is the most difficult to argue. New technologies have a big share in education and certainly will have more in the future. Information flow already runs through the other pipes. A teacher isn’t the only and isn’t the best source of information.

Teaching is a dying profession in medieval because new printing technologies

Having access to information isn’t everything. Surfing the WEB without direction is a mostly unproductive occupation. We need direction in the informational chaos. Knowledge has a structure and this structure defines learning sequence. You can’t see the whole building when you are sanding at the entrance. A teacher is an experienced guide who gives you direction. Help in learning is difficult because different people create knowledge in different ways. People think differently therefore a teacher needs to adjust the learning way to a specific student. Another aspect is social interaction. People will need to communicate with each other personally. Children learn everywhere by trying, but sometimes they need correction, and the teacher’s directions can have value.

Computers are becoming more intelligent. Educational programs are becoming more attractive and effective. It is possible that some day computers will think like humans (for me, it means that the computer will become a man). This Robo-man could replace human teachers. Whether the teacher would be made of cells or of another material, the profession would remain.

Carmen Gloria Caamaño replied to my post Curiosity vanishes : “Very good post. That got me thinking that people stop asking questions so as not to show vulnerability. In the case of the Chileans are very few people ask. Will they not encouraged culturally? What can you do to change this? regards”

In this post I tried to answer her questions.

In my opinion, losing the ability to ask questions  is a deep, maybe instinctive feature of  adult people. It is more natural for adults not to ask questions than to ask them in many different cultures. Maybe a group needs a majority of non-questioning individuals for stability. From the other side, people with curiosity can discover new things. The ability to ask questions is an essential part of critical thinking. Nowadays critical thinking is more important than in the past because of two reason. The first is the rapid changes of our world, and the second is mass media and social media technologies which can be used and are used for more and more manipulations.

Can we change adults and make them ask more questions?  In this regard I am pessimistic. Adults can change but those changes are rare. The less bad consequences follow questioning the more questions people ask. Open society is a prerequisite for asking questions.

Children, from the other side, already have the ability to ask questions. They ask and we (parents, teachers) have to answer. If we don’t have an answer  we need to look for it or show a way to look for it. Children’s questions should be important for us. When a teenager says about his question “It’s not important” he lost something from his ability to ask questions.

Sometimes we don’t understand questions. Often a question is badly built. However, for parents and teachers “No silly questions” politics should be used. All questions must be welcome. It is our duty to find out what the child wanted to ask, and create an atmosphere  supporting curiosity.

“In the beginning was the Word…”. Then a language rose from  a word and provided a possibility  to translate information from one individual to another. With the help of words people began to use each others experience and build knowledge not only from personal mistakes but also from experience of other people. New knowledge thrives on connected experience of individuals.

“Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we think about.”( Benjamin Lee Whorf)

Analyzing why I disagreed with my opponents during conversations, I realized that ,seldom, it was different interests; more often it was different meanings of words. Imagine dialog between two people. One speaks and understands only English and another  German. What kind of decision would they make? For good communication  we need the same words and accuracy in using those words. We don’t need to look for the right definition of words, but for mutual definitions which would help us to communicate.

When we learn foreign  languages we try to understand the meaning of the words with the help of the dictionary:

Definition of KNOWLEDGE from Merriam-Webster Dictionary (without obsolete and archaic)

1 a (1) : the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association (2) :acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique (1) : the fact or condition of being aware of something (2): the range of one’s information or understanding <answered to the best of my knowledge>c : the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning : cognition d : the fact or condition of having information or of being learned <a person of unusual knowledge>

2 a : the sum of what is known : the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by human kind b archaic : a branch of learning

We also understand a word’s meaning with the help of authority (teacher) : Plato defines knowledge as “justified true belief.” And Bertrand Russell as “belief which is in agreement with the facts”.

Lastly, the best way to understand the meaning of a word is through experience, a child’s way to learn language. That is why a good dictionary applies this technique and puts an example of the word’s usage.

  Our experience  could change because reality changes. We need new words to describe new  experiences. Sometimes decisions come with widening or changing words meaning. Words change. After this change happens dictionaries will be corrected, authority will give us new definitions and our experience will be relevant. However during the process we experience some confusion for which only mutual relevant experience could help.