KMbeing

Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Multiple Contributions & Multi-Production Of New Knowledge

A Global Flow Of Knowledge Diversity

Do we need to be considered “super intelligent” to have knowledge? Do we have to have an academic degree to have knowledge? Do we have to be wealthy to have knowledge? No, we just have it.  Each second, each minute of our lives creates individual knowledge – from personal experience – waiting to be shared with others – and received from others.  Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to share our individual knowledge, our life experiences, even the parts we think aren’t “worthy”.  We don’t need to have higher education to teach others.

Don’t get me wrong. I am certainly not suggesting there’s no value or benefit to getting an academic degree. There certainly is! And I recognize how important this can be in developing critical thinking – which is a major part of developing further knowledge. But we don’t have to go university or travel to far away places to share our individual knowledge – however “limited” we might think it is.  Many share individual knowledge right now – thanks to the Internet and social media.

Each second of our lives we can share knowledge.  We can fill every single moment of our lives with the appreciation for the unique experiences in our lives and our own unique knowledge.  And it doesn’t take a lot of effort.  I think in order to create a better world we need to break away from rigid knowledge about how we think things should be,  and accept that knowledge is an ever-changing process – a global flow of knowledge diversity.  Only when we accept the diversity of knowledge in everyone around us can we begin to achieve valuable knowledge for the benefit of society.

6 responses to “A Global Flow Of Knowledge Diversity

  1. David Phipps May 27, 2011 at 10:29 am

    I have two thoughts on this, both positive because its a great post.

    @marcopolis just tweeted that most of our knowledge is tacit knowledge, acquired informally not formally. This supports your position here. There are many forms of knowing and formal education is only one of them. Traditional knowledges (Eastern, Aboriginal) have existed for centuries without being constrained into a Western concept of formal education. Trouble is we have privileged “formal” education in many of our actions and policies (and please note, I appreciate the percetpion of hypocracy here as I am based in a university).

    The second thought is a piece I read yesterday in Wired Campus from the Chronicles of Higher Education. PayPal entrepreneur (who’s name I forget) has offered a few business majors in entrepreneurial programs at leading US universities a fellowship of $100,000 to leave university, essentially drop out and be mentored by Silicon Valley folks. No formal education just tacit learning from mentors (who might be considered elders in other settings). He plans to evaluate the entrepreneurial success of his fellows compared to their formally educated “controls”. He hopes to prove that in an entrepreneurial world, higher education is over rated.

    • KMbeing May 27, 2011 at 10:56 am

      Thanks for the very informative and important comment and relevant linking. We do live in a world that privileges explicit or formal knowledge over tacit or informal knowledge, but perhaps the tide is turning? The rising tuition rates for “higher” education is a double-edged sword causing many to re-evaluate formal education, leading to fewer students, which leads to even more expensive tuition. Having the private sector offer a substantial amount of cash to draw students away from university is an interesting turn. Watching paradigm shifts occur is always interesting!

  2. Bonnie Zink May 27, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I recently attended a talk by Dr. Allan Quigley, Professor of Adult Education at St. Francis Xavier University. He addressed the notions of literacy and valuable knowledge. He challenged the audience to consider Who is literate or knowledgable and who determines the criteria by which they are measured. Ultimately, he proposed, these levels of measure are not determined by those whose lives are affected (the illiterate or lacking of knowledge), but by those who are removed from that culture (ie: academics, policy makers). The levels of measurement are arbitrary and a construct of a political environment where certain factions of society are subverted by these measures. (Just think of the residential schools issue where indigenous knowledge was being replaced with colonial knowledge with the intention of eradicating Aboriginal culture and knowledge.)

    Quigley used the example of the popularity of APL measure in US during the 1960’s. It was culturally biased towards the middle class. It did not recognize the knowledge of persons outside this class. We see the same thing in in Canada. Standardized tests, such as International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS) measure levels of literacy in a number of areas. It focuses on prose, document use, document use, and problem solving, but does not recognize knowledge outside of English/French. Where does this leave our Aboriginal population?

    Since most Aboriginals do not learn English or French as their first language the IALSS measure does not measure their knowledge. IALSS was devised by those outside of their community and did not account for indigenous knowledge and how that knowledge was learned (oral), and, thus, could not possibly nor accurately measure their level of knowledge or literacy.

    I wonder if the tools available to measure the literacy or knowledge levels of populations were created by and administered by members of that population what would happen? Would the tool embrace the teachings and methods of knowledge sharing as well as learning present within that population? Would this provide a starkly different picture of that population? Would indigenous knowlege be recognized for its value? Would indigeonous language, methods of learning, ways of teaching. be recognized as valid as their academic counterparts?

    It just might. Recently the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Literacy Network launced a new tool for measuring the knowledge of Aboriginals within Saskatchewan: AALAT. It is a comprehensive, decolonized, strength-based, assessment tool that incorporates cultural perspectives and offers Aboriginal communities a broad understanding of literacy skills and marks personal triumpsh and barriers that they face along their literacy journey.

    So, to sum up, I agree that the possession of a university degree may not be necessary for one to pass on valuable knowledge. Many experts live within communities that are far removed from academia. An expert fisherman, hunter, or farmer would be much better equipped to pass on the skills of those trades than someone with a sociology degree, for example. An expert breadmaker or knitter would certainly be better equipped to pass on those skills than a political scientist. You can see where this is going.

    Thanks for such an inspirational posting that encourages us to think of knowledge outside its typical setting and to re-think how we consider knowledge and where it comes from. I believe that we are well on our way to expanding our definition of knowledge beyond acadeics and placing deserving value on ALL knowledge.

    • KMbeing May 28, 2011 at 6:22 am

      First off – thank you so much Bonnie for an amazing comment. My approach to knowledge is inclusive of all knowledge in all its diverse forms. I am not against academic testing as it is a valuable measure of a person’s knowledge – but only a certain type of knowledge in a certain situation. You point to the historical view of knowledge bias that was exclusionary. Thankfully we are now recognizing knowledge in it’s many forms throughout the world as a new knowledge paradigm emerges.

      I appreciate your insightful comment, and am glad to see others open to ALL knowledge as well.

      • David Yetman May 28, 2011 at 9:47 pm

        Interesting discussion. Let me take a slightly different slant on the line of thought proposed here (which it seems you all agree). There are two immediate thoughts that come to mind. First, what Gary is talking about is a somewhat decentralized, egalitarian view of knowledge. The view that knowledge is pervasive is attractive and, of course, it is true in most societies where lay-knowledge is common – where people have to know about the patterns of weather, local politics, transportation systems, etc. You will find knowledge everywhere, in every corner of the universe. However, academic or higher knowledge (as condescending as this term sounds) has a place and cannot be replaced by local knowledge. What makes a social transaction work by knowing the weather has no bearing on how a quantum particle behaves in space and time. They are two separate problems requiring two different forms of thinking. My point here is that knowledge itself has a time and a space dimension. Some forms of local knowledge work in certain space-time dimensions, for example when a farmer can predict the weather days ahead by “feeling” the barometric pressure. Such forms would not work when trying to predict the behaviour of a quantum particle in space-time, nor would the space-time quantum dimension work on the field when harvesting carrots. What we need to do is to value knowledge for its context; its space-time dimension, and not compare apples with oranges. Second, knowledge has nothing to do with hierarchies but rather the search for a definitive truth regardless of the circles it is created in. I personally don’t believe that universities should buckle under the pressure to decentralize, or blend knowledge. I agree with Plato who first said that universities have a special place for creation of a unique form of knowledge. What happens in the university space-time dimension cannot be recreated anywhere else in the universe. Nor can the impact of such thinking change the world as it does, for good and bad. I will always defend that belief. In the end, we are partaking in an epistemological argument on the equity of knowledge. I for one take less of a socialist view on the matter!

      • KMbeing May 29, 2011 at 9:23 am

        I agree with you David that academic knowledge has a place, and I am certainly not suggesting that it should be replaced by more social or widespread local or individual knowledge. I am suggesting that each person needs to recognize the value of their own knowledge – whatever or however they perceive it – to contribute to overall knowledge in making this world a better place to live in, while also respecting the diversity of knowledge that is found on this planet.
        You present an excellent example of differences in knowledge and connecting it to time and space. Again, I agree, but I always want to emphasize how often more social or “common” knowledge is ignored. Bonnie Zink’s comments presented great examples of how “higher” education diminished and historically almost destroyed aboriginal narrative voices. We can’t let that happen again.

        I also completely agree with your second point that knowledge has nothing to do with hierarchies, but disagree about searching for some definitive truth. I believe no matter how much we have sought after this definitive “truth” (and history presents plenty of examples of our quests for “truth”) truth will always remain relative to each individual as knowledge is also relative. Each of us perceives our world in our own unique ways. Our brains may function with neurons firing in similar fashions, but each moment of knowledge acquirement and physicality is a unique experience. I argue that trying to get to the “truth” will never result in agreement. Perhaps the truth is out there (thank you X-Files), but finding it will never be seen the same by anyone.
        I respect your view on Plato’s approach to knowledge and the continuing place of universities, but I also think we are experiencing a paradigm shift of understanding knowledge as a broader connection of diversity – as diverse as the individuals who live on this planet – that needs to be respected and valued in each person, to make this world a better and more peaceful place to live in.

        Thanks so much for participating in the knowledge conversation. I appreciate your comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: