Saturday, July 04, 2009

IQ is lead, knowledge is silver, outlook is gold

"The bug most people have about schools (including many who set up schools) is the idea that they are there to teach knowledge"
From a great discussion b/w alan kay, subbu and others on the IAEP list:

Alan Kay:
IQ - What if you had an "IQ" of 500, but were born in 10,000 BC. You would not be able to make a lot of progress. For example, Leonardo was very smart but couldn't come up with the engines his vehicle designs needed in order to work -- he was born in the wrong century for what he wanted to do.

Knowledge - On the other hand, Henry Ford was not nearly as smart as Leonardo, but was born at a very good time and in a good place, so he was able to combine engineering and production inventions to make millions of inexpensive automobiles.

Outlook - what made Henry Ford powerful (and most other things today) was an enormous change in Outlook (you called it a paradigm shift) which we can symbolize by invoking Newton.

"Knowledge is Silver, but Outlook is Gold" (IQ is Lead ... because most worthwhile problems we want to work on and solve are beyond mere IQ)

In other words, most human cultures accumulate and use a lot of knowledge (this is what a culture is all about) that is used to survive, to accommodate to the environment and even sometimes thrive. But the knowledge of a traditional society is very different from that of a feudal society which in turn is very different from a technological scientifically based society.

The bug most people have about schools (including many who set up schools) is the idea that they are there to teach knowledge. (Not a bad secondary goal, but it's a very bad idea for it to be the main goal.) Montessori was an early voice who pointed out that the main purpose of schooling (especially early schooling) was to help students learn and deeply internalize the most powerful outlooks that have been discovered/invented by humans. She observed that otherwise children wind up living in the 20th century but with a 10th century (or much earlier) outlook ...
Since outlook requires both a broad and deep knowledge of at least philosophy, history and science then getting education right is an arduous, difficult process.

1 comment:

rob said...

yes, these conversations on IAEP were gold to listen to.

i also liked the observation that Martin, i think, made about the 'mechanical' nature of computer simulations (games etc) ...what we learn is really a rule based interaction that is not very deep ...interesting