Doug Johnson posted a video clip titled Information Deformation that I hadn’t seen before. Created by the Education for Well Being group, the clip talks about how we have access to tons of data but that we aren’t all that good about doing anything with it.

And while some may dismiss it as just another cheesy, eduverse, the world is different now kind of video, I think it’s got some merit.


Jean Baudrillard is quoted:

We live in a world where there is more and more information and less and less meaning.

It also has some nice stuff from David Orr’s The Nature of Design about fast and slow knowledge.

Fast knowledge is focused on solving problems, usually by one technological fix or another. Slow knowledge is focused on avoiding  problems in the first place.

I’ve been talking with teachers for years about the process that we need to follow when creating lessons and working with kids. The steps are pretty basic.

  • data
  • information
  • knowledge
  • wisdom

In basic terms and in the context of history, data is the dates and places and people. Information becomes data that kids organize into recognizable patterns. Knowledge is the “making sense” and application of those patterns. And finally, wisdom is the sharing of that “making sense” in a variety of ways and in a variety of places.

It’s all about the slow knowledge.

I think a lot of times, we as teachers forget the last couple of steps. We’re great at sharing data and probably even do a pretty job of finding ways to help kids organize that data. But I would agree with the premise of the video – we don’t do a very good at helping kids make meaning of the huge amounts of data that is available.

The Co-Intelligence Institute suggests that:

Wisdom involves seeing beyond immediate appearances into deeper, broader understandings of the big picture, the long term, the common good, fuller meanings, deeper causes, greater complexity, sublety and ambiquity, the fact that there is always more to it.

This what we as history teachers should be doing, providing ways for kids to find those “deeper and broader understandings.” We also need to realize that no matter how many cool tech tools we and our students mess with, there will always be work for us to do to help kids find a “fuller meaning.”

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