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Is Knowledge Power?

Is Knowledge Power? An Article about knowledge. What is it? How should we teach it? With 3 top questions to promote Knowledge Literacy.

This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Teaching & Learning, Any Subject, Educators

Tags: Knowledge Curriculum Facts

How Much Knowledge?

I once read a Sci-Fi story in which a spaceship sets out carrying all the data that humanity has ever generated. There's no storage space left on Earth but the information can't be destroyed or overwritten. So the ship, stuffed full of magnetic tapes (probably), heads off to find a suitable planet to dump it on. Not long into the voyage an alien ship is spotted racing towards Earth. It's quickly established that this ship is doing exactly the same thing; it's full of alien data and searching for a place to put it all.

I wrote that short paragraph at 14:33 GMT on Friday 2nd June 2017. At that time mine was the 2,952,631st blog post that day and the 625,396,001st in 2017. (

Welcome back if you've just spent a thoughtful 10 minutes or more on worldometers and thanks for reading this instead of the many other blogs you could have chosen. Mind blowing world data don't you think? Not spaceship-filling but nevertheless showing that more and more of us are generating more and more information than ever before (and making it 100% clear that the management of our planet's food needs some serious work, fast).

So, how much knowledge is there? How much data and information? How many facts? How fast is it all increasing? How should we educate our children about it? And do we make them more powerful in the world if we do?

Knowledge is...

Knowledge is power. (Francis Bacon)

Knowledge is beautiful. (David McCandless)

Knowledge is doubling every 12 months (Buckminster Fuller curve estimate)

When educators lock horns about knowledge it's usually over which information should be included in a curriculum: Literary works, historical facts, national values, social behaviours, cultural norms, and subject-specific material. 

Once that fight is over (it's never actually won) they'll move on to the roles of teacher and pupil. On one hand the teacher is an expert who knows more than the pupil and is responsible for passing on a precious knowledge heritage to the next generation. One the other, the teacher is a facilitator who engineers opportunities, resources and challenges in which the pupil discovers or creates the information for themselves.

Taking the first approach ensures that the important stuff is preserved. But if it's taught without skill, passion and energy it turns children passive observers of a curriculum that has no relevance or interest to them.

Likewise, the second method can involve and motivate children but if they are left to their own devices they will miss essential learning.

You'll find that these extremes exist as school vision statements and also as aggressively defended personal educational philosophies. You'll also find a great deal of forward-thinking synthesis of the two positions - likewise, as school vision statements and personal educational philosophies.

Knowledge Literacy

The knowledge available to your pupils 20 years from now will most likely be unimaginable, as will the ways in which they can access and express it. As well as considering which knowledge is important and how children will best learn it, we must also teach them how to handle what's currently out there and what's on its way. Here are 3 simple questions that you can teach them; 3 questions that they can use to critically assess the information available - wherever and whenever they come across it:

  1. How is this information authentic, genuine, trustworthy?
  2. In what ways can I use this information to add value to my life and to the lives of others?
  3. How does this information connect to other knowledge that I already have?

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.
Albert Einstein

Related Resources:

CFU Thinking


Factivity Grid

Knowledge Think Sheet

Lectures and Notes

List Thinking

List Thinking Powerpoint


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