Information & Knowledge — Should Literacy End There

It is time to give up on sleep.  I don’t know if its the eight time zones I find myself from home.  Or it may be the six hours of my twelve hour flight that I slept and then the additional eleven hours that I slept after arriving in Doha Sunday night.  It could be the usual jitters that wake me up before an important presentation or workshop.  But it’s time to give it up and start orienting myself to the day at hand.

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom rock formation in Wadi Rum
Flickr Photo by Chris Booth

But, before I do that, here’s something that I ran across in a quick breeze of my aggregator last night, a Brain, Mind, Conscious and Learning post by Javed Alam entitled, We Need Wisdom.  He says…

We have too much information and knowledge. It is creating a false sense of security that we know enough to deal with any kind of crisis. The current economic crisis prove that knowledge in itself is not enough to anticipate and avert crisis. As a group we seem to act more or less as a reactive mind. We rarely foresee problems and mostly lurch from one crisis to another.

Brain, Mind, Consciousness and Learning: We Need Wisdom

Brenda and I have talked often about this mess, and how we should have seen it coming.  Our leaders should have seen it coming.  The media should have seen it coming.  But until reading Javed’s post, I hadn’t thought about this from the perspective of what I teach and promote.  I celebrate the age of information and although I caution folks of the dangers and try to describe the literacy skills that a networked, digital, and abundant information environment demands, I still imply that all of this free-flowing, dynamic, and glowing information is a good thing.  And I still think that it is.

But Javed continues to quote the SciFi writer, Arthur C. Clark…

The Information Age offers much to mankind, and I would like to think that we will rise to the challenges it presents. But it is vital to remember that information— in the sense of raw data— is not knowledge, that knowledge is not wisdom, and that wisdom is not foresight. But information is the first essential step to all of these.

I think that information and knowledge are very much what we are about in education. But where is the wisdom and with it the foresight?  It’s easy to say that, “Well, it can’t be subjectively tested, and we are pushing the information and knowledge and their accompanying skills at the expense of wisdom.”  But quite frankly, I’m not sure what wisdom instruction would look like.  I feel so far removed from anything but the workforce preparation mode of formal public education to figure out where wisdom fits in with literacy.  I talk a lot about the ethical use of information, but wisdom and foresight seem much bigger than that.

Maybe I’m just too far from home to be making any more sense than this.  Today, I’ll just teach!

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.