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Learning to be a Part of Knowledge Society

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

Alvin Toffler, futurologist, opines in his book “Future shock:

"New knowledge either extends or outmodes the old. In either case it compels those for whom it is relevant to reorganize their store of images. It forces them to relearn today what they thought they knew yesterday."

He reflects further-:

"Much new knowledge is admittedly remote from the immediate interests of the ordinary man in the street. He is not intrigued or impressed by the fact that a noble gas like Xenon can form compounds – something that until recently most chemists swore was impossible. While even this knowledge may have an impact on him when it is embodied in new technology, until then he can afford to ignore it.A poignant example is the dilemma that parents find themselves in today as a consequence of successive radical changes in the image of the child in society and in our theories of child rearing."

The increasing impermanence of knowledge and its relative irrelevance has ushered in new patterns of assimilation, construction and use of knowledge. Knowledge emerging as a capital in the current social dynamics has influence greatly all fields of learning, from the primary level to the tertiary level.

An academic leader has to be sensitive to such changes and reorganize his strategies to be a continuous learner so that he is a part of the present.

In the book Schools as Knowledge building Organizations, Keating and Hertzman point out:

Educators tend to think of knowledge as content residing in people’s minds. Alternatively, knowledge as resource or product, something that can be created, improved, bought, sold, discarded, recycled ÿ this is a conception more frequently found in knowledge-based businesses, and while it can coexist with the prevailing educational perspective, it is not the same thing. Children need an educational experience that makes this other conception of knowledge a part of their common sense, an understanding that gives meaning to the work they do from day to day.

The best preparation for life in a knowledge society is experience in a learning organization. The job to be done shifts from learning in the conventional sense to the construction of collective knowledge; there is an important shift in students’ roles from clients to participants in a learning organization. The authenticity of students’ knowledge building efforts is crucial. Community knowledge building is described by the authors as moving beyond other innovative educational approaches such as problem-based learning, project-based learning, and child-centered learning, in that it is aimed at producing something of value to the community: theories, explanations, problem formulations, interpretations, and so on, which become public property that is helpful in understanding the world and functioning intelligently in it.

The best preparation for life in a knowledge society is experience in a learning organization.

As academic leaders we need to be sensitive to the demands of the emerging knowledge society. The focus of pedagogy should shift to constructivism in learning. Can we pool our thoughts in our discussion platforms to discuss and evolve some strategies for effective implementation of constructivism in our classrooms?


About the Author

G. Balasubramanian is the Chairperson of Board of Adivsors to International Council for School Leadership (ICSL)


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