Friday, December 28, 2007

There was a lot of repeating, overlapping material during our discussion groups' sharing session as we collectively planned for next year's programme. That's a good thing, because that shows that generally, we are all on the same page on what we need and want to do for the college, the kids and ourselves in 2008.

In retrospect, we've done fairly well in helping our kids absorb knowledge, enough anyway to get through their year-end exams. But knowledge isn't really like random plankton drifting around on currents, and our kids aren't really sponges and anemones willy-nilly ingesting nutrients that unhappily float within tentacle reach. As a species, we've evolved further along than that, so to revert to such a learning pattern will inevitably bore us and our kids to no end.

I think we've begun to view knowledge as a slippery, fast-moving, shape-shifting thing, that to acquire needs to be hunted down, tamed, and manipulated into working for and with us. Or else it just isn't knowledge.

We already know that knowledge shifts with remarkable speed. A day or two ago, Pakistan was heading for a democratic election. Yesterday, Benazir Bhutto's life tragically and brutally ended by some random element that didn't agree with her. Today, Pakistan has to deal with an upcoming democratic election in which bombs and guns make more impact than a person's vote in the elimination of prime ministerial candidates. That knowledge, and its implications therein shows how uncertain the world is. Knowledge may bring hope today, despair tomorrow, but as long as we're not dead, life goes on. Hence, our kids need above all to learn how to live in uncertain times.

First, they'll need to make a habit of sampling from good information sources to constantly be aware of their environment as it changes around them. They need to identify threats and dangers, but also sense opportunities to capitalize on to sustain their existence. They need to learn that we hunt best in a pack, so we have to teach them pack dynamics and strategies so we can work together for our mutual benefit. They need to experience that not all hunts will bring back rich rewards, and so tough it out during lean times. And when times are good, they must learn how to share their bounty with others. That, and a dash of personal and collective confidence in the future too. Not asking too much, are we?

Essentially, nothing's changed since our earliest civilizations, except the nature of our prey. We no longer hunt animal prey, but information and knowledge. The good news is, there's plenty of it to be found everywhere, but it needs to be chased down to be exploited.

Our challenge as I see it: to create an environment that catalyzes the evolution of inert, invertebrate sponges into a tribe of hungry, thinking hunters with a plan for action, and not devolve them back the other way.

Today, we decided where our destination lies. Getting there is half the fun.

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