Schools must provide Knowledge and not mere Information

Learning at school must light the 'lamp of knowledge' in each one of us. 

Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness or understanding of someone or something, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning. Knowledge can refer to a theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. It can be implicit (as with practical skill or expertise) or explicit (as with the theoretical understanding of a subject); it can be more or less formal or systematic. In philosophy, the study of knowledge is called epistemology; the philosopher Plato famously defined knowledge as "justified true belief", though "well-justified true belief" is more complete.

Knowledge acquisition involves complex cognitive processes: perception, communication, and reasoning; while knowledge is also said to be related to the capacity of acknowledgment in human beings. ~ Wikipedia

“We are no longer in the dispensation of age and experience. We are in the era of knowledge and information. Information leads a true leader and a true leader leads others.” 
― Israelmore Ayivor

Our Education process is more towards imparting information and encourages rote learning. Rote learning is a memorisation technique based on repetition. The idea is that one will be able to quickly recall the meaning of the material the more one repeats it. Alternatives to rote learning include meaningful learning, associative learning, and active learning. This is where we must value the power of knowledge and work towards the development of the knowledge base and empowering our young people with thinking ability and acquisition of skills for life. 

“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: 'You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.” 
― Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

Knowledge must help an individual grow his vision and thinking, look at the pyramid on the left, here information is way down. Data (information) today is available in large volume and the ability to comprehend big data to help us grow our intellect is what we need to help develop. While information may be easy to find and assimilate, the learning process at school must help us to be analytical and empower us to find the leadership within. 

Knowledge has to help us put together a strategy and this will be the best value for our education curriculum to deliver. Schools must change to help us be empowered with  the ability to think and move away from being mere processors of data. The CPU of a computer processes data to deliver us the precise bits and bytes we need, this is how our brain must function. The lamp of knowledge must help throw light that travels a long distance, to show us the way ahead in life. There is the need to find the sharpest of the rays to reach the level of learning that grows the  inner self. The sharpest of the light rays will always travel the longest distance and this is the way to look at the rays of knowledge too. The experimental method used to teach must involve manipulating one variable to determine if changes in one variable cause changes in another variable. This method relies on controlled methods, random assignment and the manipulation of variables to test a hypothesis. The child must demonstrate the ability to assimilate and deliver, and not merely 'rote and roll out.'

Barbara Schieffelin Powell is an international educational consultant in curriculum development, teacher education and evaluation. She has helped deliver The Fabindia School Leadership Development Project and has been instrumental in helping deliver the mission and vision of the School. The Fabindia School has experienced a leadership change, encountered the resistance to efforts to improve teaching performance, and began the process of moving away from “by-hearting” to more active learning. Early efforts at improving teacher performance, such as goal setting and classroom observation, were first vigorously resisted. The Principal began with a careful program of classroom observation and discussion with teachers. Teachers were exposed to examples of more active learning by visiting other schools.

The Fabindia School helped teachers and students to:
  • Identify and build on their strengths
  • Discover their leadership potential
  • Become self-directed and collaborative learners
  • Become contributing members of their communities
Although the teachers helped develop this vision, they have had not yet adopted attitudes and practices that embody the vision. The monthly teacher training workshops are structured to help teachers identify their strengths and become self-directed and collaborative learners. Creating a different school culture which engages teachers in a vibrant and ambitious learning community is an essential and painstaking process which only evolves over time. 

“We still have a long way to travel, but we’re on the road” states Barbara S. Powell. After two years it should be clear (if there was any doubt) that building a professional culture in a school consists not of a quick fix (like a pill) but of a complex effort to change the culture within which teachers work. It is often slow work and hard work, but we have made progress and look forward to the next stage. Generating widespread organisational change requires a comprehensive approach.

Collaborative learning is a situation in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something together. Knowledge can only be built by collaborative learning and not by rote. Information delivery is a process while knowledge assimilation is true learning. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna used the term ''Lamp of Knowledge", and true knowledge is which destroys the darkness of ignorance. We may start the journey of learning with information, but must work to light the lamp of knowledge.

Tell us what you think students are learning at school – not in terms of academic content, but in terms of “life lessons” and “soft skills.” Are you learning, for example, how to follow directions? How to interpret text? How to cooperate and collaborate? How to be open to new ideas? How to think critically? What skills do you think you will most need to succeed in career and life? Share with us your thoughts and add comments to this article.

The author of the article Sandeep Dutt takes the onus of the content and the opinions expressed are his alone. You may please email the author on for comments if any. Sandeep is the former National Director of The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award ( IAYP in India).

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1. Wikipedia:
2. The Free Dictionary online.
3. Images Courtesy: (Knowledge is Power), (Candle and book)
4.  Barbara Powell Fabindia Leadership Development Project Report 2013-14
5. To find out what Fabindia is doing to help deliver quality affordable education, welcome to visit
Disclaimer: Images have been sourced with the help of Google User Content online and this blog claims no design or copyright please.

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