Knowledge Cores/Spiral Clusters

Project Leaders:

Nicholas Backer

Andrew Gehman

 

Since February, 2013, under the leadership of Nick Backer and Andrew Gehman, CPE has undertaken the education project: “Knowledge Cores / Spiral Clusters.”  The focus is interdisciplinary in the sense of bringing together the best of evolving thinking about capacity building from the non-governmental sector, with the evolving though still conventional thinking about teaching prevalent in the education sector.  The hope is to  re-focus the mechanics of knowledge dissemination to conform to current cultural habits and expectations–one that weaves communal and individual learning together in new ways, takes advantage of the transformative elements of technology in approaches to learning and training, and making more relevant the relationship of faculty to student.

Knowledge Cores/Spiral Clusters:

Introduction: What are we all about?

People learn and communities teach.  People learn to improve themselves.  Communities teach to mold individuals for very specific purposes, purposes that may have less to do with learning than with control. These usually take two forms—first to create economic utility, that is teaching to markets; second, civic education, to take one’s place within social, political, religious and other regulating hierarchies. This was as true in the United States as it was in the Soviet Union or in theocratic states. Through the 20th century, then, instruction was meant both to impart knowledge and to socialize the student to a particular set of social, cultural, political, religious and economic premises.  Teaching was both an exercise in knowledge and ideology.

All of this was possible because communities controlled knowledge; individuals were dependent on states or other organizations which gathered knowledge in universities, in libraries, in monasteries, or similar places. These spaces warehoused knowledge, and the keepers of these warehouses became the authenticators of its value or legitimacy.  Knowledge was good only if certified by a professor, priest, librarian, publishing house, government minister or the like.  Control of these vaults meant control over the outflow of information and the shaping of knowledge packages to be imparted to individuals. Knowledge was never produced raw—it has always been packaged by these keepers and directed to an audience expected to be passive and receptive.   The power to control the packaging of knowledge—what and how to convey information, and to control the meaning of these knowledge cores—also produced the power to shape the individual mind to conform to the expectations and needs of those who taught. The resulting knowledge spirals shaped individual expectations and perceptions of the world around her.

But technology has liberated knowledge from institutional control.  Individuals can control what they learn and from whom. Globalization has freed knowledge from the constraints of borders of any kind.  That combination has produced a different type of learner.  Individuals are now more directed to seek specific knowledge cores to suit their needs.  And those needs change constantly. Individuals are more empowered to learn by access to knowledge acquired piecemeal.  These knowledge cores can then be assembled to suit the interests of the student to produce spiraling clusters of knowledge cores that educate the student in ways that she controls. The knowledge sheep have become their own shepherds. And the importance of authentication has become much more narrow as people learn to teach themselves. Individuals are more empowered to learn by access to knowledge acquired piecemeal.  These knowledge cores can then be assembled to suit the interests of the student to produce spiral clusters of knowledge and information that educate the student in ways that she controls.

The object of these exercises is to enhance the power of individuals to control their own learning, and to permit them to acquire knowledge their own way. Rather than have a teacher control the shape and scope of knowledge, to meet a predetermined set of learning objectives, these exercises provide students with knowledge cores they can acquire and assemble as they like. Each core structured as a short burst—no more than 5 minutes—designed to suggest a core of knowledge.  These knowledge cores can be spiraled deeper into the subject or they can be spiraled outward by assembling any number of these knowledge core bursts into a larger picture.   Knowledge cores provide a structured brief building block of knowledge.  These provide a foundation for directing knowledge acquisition.  Spiral clusters are built from combinations of knowledge cores.

The student can fully control the way she consumes by following information where ever it suits her.  Instead of having the teacher guide, and control the relationship between the learner and what is to be learned, the student assembles knowledge cores in spiraling clusters. The student can follow her interest where ever it takes her.  She can move forward, double back, explore detail or move forward. And the student decides where when and how she learns, what it means and how it can be used. The object isn’t to pass a test, an act where students are rewarded for repeating back what they have been asked to absorb.  Instead mastery of the knowledge for the purpose for which it was acquired is main object.

But independence form control does not mean isolation.  Individuals have always formed communities of learners and can profit from guidance.  But these cores and clusters suggest that guidance should be undertaken freely, like the acquisition of knowledge. Knowledge cores provide a structured brief building block of knowledge.  These provide a foundation for directing knowledge acquisition.  Spiral clusters are built from combinations of knowledge cores.  Spiral clusters can be structured by the instructor—the form, progression, connections and lessons of knowledge, the knowledge cores and spiral clusters—or the student can assemble these to suit their own interests.  You decide; you control.  Welcome to a new way of learning and growing, where both are in your hands.

We will produce an initial set of nine knowledge clusters grouped roughly by similarity or overlap of content.  We hope you find them useful.  We also want o know what you want to know.  Write us.  Let us know what you want to learn.  Help us build a knowledge core universe so we can all teach and learn.

Law and Economic Activity

            1. Are corporations people, too?

            2.  Whose interests do corporations serve and why does it matter?

            3.  Why do we care about global supply chains?

Law and Political Activity

            1.  What is the difference between constitution and constitutionalism?

            2.  What is the difference between “hard” law and “soft law”.

            3.  Why do we care about fairness in law and regulatory systems?

Globalization

           1.  What is globalization?

            2.  Is there a law of globalization?

            3.  What is a sovereign wealth fund and why does it matter?