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It’s time to catch the knowledge wave

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Media Release

18 April 2004

It’s time to catch the knowledge wave

Today’s knowledge society offers educators an opportunity to re-examine what they teach and why they teach it, according to NZCER senior researcher Dr Jane Gilbert.

Dr Gilbert is a keynote speaker at PPTA’s Charting the Future: The Way Forward for Secondary Education conference in Wellington. Her address is entitled: Catching the knowledge wave?: The knowledge society, schools and knowledge.

She says our school system and what we teach in it is still based on Industrial Age ways of thinking - in particular, Industrial Age conceptions of knowledge.

“Standardised, one-size-fits-all models of education that aim to produce clones - people who have absorbed and can reproduce existing ways of knowing and doing things - are no longer appropriate in the knowledge society.”

Dr Gilbert says that rather than focusing on what has traditionally been done in schools we need to completely rethink much of it if we are to prepare students for the 21st century.

“The knowledge society has major implications for how our secondary schools are organised, how we think about teaching, learning and assessment, and for teachers' ways of working.

“What we think of as ‘knowledge' is changing, therefore our school curriculum needs re-thinking as well.

“According to the Knowledge Society literature, knowledge is no longer being thought of as if it were 'stuff' that people learn and store away in their minds for future use.

“Instead it is something that 'does things': it is like energy - something that 'makes things happen'. Similarly (this literature says), learning is no longer thought of as an activity of individual minds, and minds are no longer places for storing or processing knowledge.

“We do not know now what the world of the future will be like - what kinds of knowledge and what kinds of people will be needed - so we need an education system that encourages diversity and that builds people's capacity to later take off in any one of a number of different directions.”

ENDS

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