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Given this shift, there has arisen different ways of conducting business – new work patterns and practices have emerged for which there has been the birth of a new breed of worker with new skills and abilities. And in his new world order, not only has knowledge become crucial, the meaning of knowledge and the way it is used has also changed from the earlier ages.
Knowledge in the earlier ages
In the agrarian age there was very little formal education, people learned or gained knowledge by going about their daily jobs, in the community. Their knowledge comprised of finding out how to “do things”. In the industrial age, there was a shift to formal education in schools. Knowledge was knowing “what had to be done”. Schools taught skills required for this including social and citizen skills. Education was managed by a bureaucratic system and students followed the rules of acquiring knowledge and they lived by societal norms. The efficient functioning of the society was given greater importance than individuals, who were all bred from a similar mould.
Knowledge in the knowledge age
In the knowledge age, the very meaning of the term “knowledge” has shifted. It is no longer about “things that are known” that are taught by experts in the field, things written about in books under different heads and subjects. It is no longer about just information and things stored in peoples’ minds. It has gone beyond that and become a force, an energy, a system of interconnected networks that does things, that causes things to happen. Knowledge is not static, it is a kind of dynamism that achieves objectives, that works towards a goal. Knowledge is produced and used by people who have complementary expertise who work together towards a specific target to achieve something specific together.
Have to discover, evaluate, use
In the knowledge age, people still need and have to be taught things that are known, like in the previous industrial age but the knowledge itself is not the be-all and end-all. Knowledge is what allows one to think, learn, change and move forward. People in the knowledge age have to discover, evaluate, use information on a continuous basis. They have to communicate and share the information and knowledge and work efficiently with others. They have to think and learn by themselves and adapt, and change basis this knowledge. They need a different skill-set to become true citizens of the knowledge economy.
Education systems as they exist do not impart these skills – they need to change their attitude and teaching techniques to teach students to think for themselves, not be spoon-fed. To understand the new meaning of knowledge, to appreciate the context in which it works, to use the ideas, information and knowledge that they have to create and innovate, to share and grow their own knowledge. We thus need a shift in our mind-set to harness fully the power of the knowledge age.