Saturday, July 18, 2009

Degrees and a Cabbie's Knowledge

The brain grows a dendrite, and literally an individual gains a mental connection. The person has new knowledge. A fact is known.

The word science is rooted in a Latin word, scire, meaning to know. Knowledge is simply what we know. Knowledge builds on itself, hence a formal education requires years; and individuals categorize their learning into specialties of focus, which drive a lifetime of learning in that field. We award such knowledge a credential verifying the education met standards.

Gaining knowledge includes non-formal education. One's brain may contain a pile of facts about a particular city's streets which has developed as a function of driving a cab for a living. The brain in this case rarely requires a map for reference. Experience is a great teacher.

In the cab example, the individual learns more than just where the streets lay. The cab driver will be aware of related but necessary facts that are a function of the city planner's action, which streets run two-ways versus one-way for instance; and of particular importance, which way that one way is! (I've been visiting Portland, Oregon since yesterday, and this city employs the one-way more than most cities I have visited! Well done, I might add. It hasn't been difficult to navigate.)

Further, the cab driver will be well versed on facts that impact the orientation and the planning of the streets: hours when the given streets experience heavy traffic, locations of popular attractions that will impact traffic flow, ethnicity concentrations, crime areas, etc. Knowledge is layered and nuanced.

We gain and accept our level of knowledge capacity and the layering of our given circumstances as a function of life. Taken as a whole, the amount of knowledge and its expanding diversity leaves the common person within an unfathomable labyrinth. All of us live with his of her pile of facts while leaving much information to reside out of our brains but within the reach of research. Factoring in the multiples of other people's nuance, add in the forces of nature and the laws of physics wherein a volcano may erupt or trained bicyclists misjudge by millimeters into a shattering fall and to knowledge is added the complication of "randomness" which at times scrambles life beyond planning, protocols and policies that all stand upon knowledge.


craig v. said...

I suspect (though I can't prove it) that we can't cleanly separate our knowledge from how we use it. It's how we use it that gives it meaning. As Paul points out, knowledge without love only puffs us up.

postmodern redneck said...

I had a Christian Education prof many years ago who taught us, "Learning has not really taken place until there is change in the life of the learner." I think that goes along with Craig's comment about use giving meaning.

That same prof was always reminding us, "What's the worst method of teaching? The one that's used all the time!"

ded said...

craig v. I appreciate both your observations:
Our knowledge base is tied to our identity, both function of and tool; also, knowledge identified with can puff one up. My feathers spread all too often!!

postmodern redneck, your two observations are well taken: if our knowledge doesn't change us, what good is it; and lecture is so boring--why do we tolerate it, even "sanctify" it within our ekklesia?