Anjana made a good point on my blog here in reply to my insistence that community building is vital to learning. For personal reasons I have a strong bias towards building community that might distort my reasoning but I’ll skip that. What I can be open about though is that we have fractured knowledge into tinier and tinier units to the point that everything has its place but no part in the whole. At this level how can we know something even matters beyond being a “required subject”? Who do we consult? The teacher, the school authorities, accepted wisdom that “learning is good”? Why should we trust a closed system to be truthful about itself? And no, this isn’t about bad intentions and the dark powers of evil, just a question on why we value the word of the institution that by doing things their way will lead to knowing?
As Anjana says, “We are normally trained in going to read, hear and look at something (video, book, webpage…etc) to ge he knowledge we need but not to work in groups and less to work in a learning community to get it.” This is true, this is how we are trained but are we ever trained in the ability to independently verify this knowledge we get? Community is one way to test knowledge, pass it around, defend it, jump on it ‘till it goes flat, do anything you can to persuade or criticize and you might actually come close to knowing.
The net releases us from the narrow flow of “verified” that education has given us. Outside the rare critical thinking courses offered in some institutions, education itself has taught us to accept uncritically the word of “the one who knows” with minimal questioning. In a world where content is everywhere / always, without community reflection we are vulnerable to the first thing that sounds right.