Change and Knowledge
(Written in the early 70's)
The acceleration of the fast rate of change in science and technology of today has brought about a knowledge explosion and a knowledge industry. The knowledge industry is one third of the total economy. Its employment is growing twice as fast as the growth of the labor force in this country. One fourth of the nation is engaged in education alone which is only one aspect of the knowledge industry, and the concern is in the retailing of old knowledge and the training of people to acquire further knowledge.
As change occurs in science, technology, and society, new systems of instruction are needed in the field of education to include the new knowledge that arrives from continual change. In this instance, change is the input into the system while new knowledge becomes the output. A part of this new knowledge becomes a positive feedback to promote more change, and thus, more knowledge in an ascending growth pattern. (Change and knowledge is an example of cause and effect and may be debatable as to which comes first—the change or the knowledge.) In my opinion, change often takes place as a result of new discoveries and/or inventions, which are often of an accidental nature. Based on this point of view, change would come first and would then be interpreted as new knowledge. (Author's Note: I've change my thinking since I wrote this and realize that electronic inventions have been like a reproducing omeba, building from previously known knowledge.)
We are doubling our knowledge every decade and as a result, the Bachelor’s graduate of today has the equivalent of the Master’s Degree graduate of ten years ago. The evolution rate of new knowledge means that the graduate of ten years ago must replace a large percent of knowledge lost and add a large percent of new knowledge per year just to keep abreast of his profession. This places upon the university some very interesting obligations in the problems of continuing education. One of the obligations of the university is that it must project its purposes to where tomorrow begins by seeing the present through the eyes of the future. In view of this accelerating rate of change, the purpose of the university is to develop young people who have the possibilities, the skills, attitudes, and habits of mind and understanding that enable them to grow and change throughout their lives.
During the last two hundred years since the first industrial revolution, the dominant economic forces have been production of goods and services based upon land, power, raw materials, and capital equipment. Today we are beginning to reckon the central requirements of our time not in those material terms but in the presence and possibilities for the development of idea and technology. The mental capital of a company or of a nation is becoming the critical factor in judging the maturity of a nation and its people. As a result of the shift in economic forces, the Unites States is spending almost as much on knowledge as all the rest of the world put together.
Since Man’s central theme in life is no longer just the striving for survival, but rather, the desire to grow and change and reach greater heights of discovery, knowledge as a feedback mechanism takes hold in the minds of man as an effective means toward fulfillment. The intangible something in the growth and development of people which distinguishes the human from the other beasts of the earth; the desire to be a better person in a better society in a better world; the urge which enters into man and causes him to grow and to develop; all provide the reason why man’s thrust for knowledge makes it an effective feedback system which promotes greater growth and change.
Man’s desire to grow and change throughout his life will be the format to knowledge, change, versatility and renewal of knowledge.
© 1971-2008 Jeanette Cooper