A Continuum of Understanding

To attain knowledge, add things every day.  To attain wisdom, remove things every day.Lao Tzu[1]

 

As we start the new year, I’ll posit a generally accepted viewpoint—schools are places of learning.  However, learning is only the beginning.  If all of us, students and teachers alike, absorb new content, develop new skills, and appreciate specific context, we may achieve understanding.  Below, I offer a ‘continuum of understanding’[2] for your consideration.

 

VOID -> NOISE -> SIGNAL -> DATA -> INFORMATION -> KNOWLEDGE -> WISDOM

 

If we follow the guidance of Lao Tzu, we are faced with the irony that, to achieve understanding, we may need to unlearn some of the things we ‘know’—“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”[3]  This year, as we come together, I challenge all of us to seek understanding.  Remember to ask good questions, keep an open mind, and accumulate the evidence that allows you to come to reasoned conclusions.  Each of us is at different points on the ‘continuum’ in different facets of our lives; however, I like to believe that collectively, we are continuously developing a community-based wisdom—let’s jointly move up the continuum this year.

 

Parting question:

  • Do you think the construct of a ‘continuum of understanding’ is useful? Why or why not?

 

 

Written by Dr. Ivory Hills

 

[1] This quote is attributed to Lao Tzu; https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/30297-to-attain-knowledge-add-things-everyday-to-attain-wisdom-remove

[2] A version of this perspective was first offered by H. Cleveland in 1982.  Cleveland, H.; “Information as a Resource”; Futurist, p34-349.

[3] This quote is frequently attributed to Mark Twain, but that may not be true.  https://quoteinvestigator.com/2018/11/18/know-trouble/

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