When technology pairs up with Socratic inquiry,
students have an opportunity to start a purposeful
conversation—with the world.
Peter W. Cookson Jr.
My greatest fear about 21st century education is that Socrates’ humility will be turned on its head. The noted philosopher once said, “I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.” My fear is that instead of knowing nothing except the fact of our
own ignorance, we will know everything except the fact of our own
ignorance. Google has given us the world at our fingertips, but speed
and ubiquity are not the same as actually knowing something.
Think of learning as a continuum of cognitive and expressive experiences that range from gathering data for the purpose of understanding
the world; to organizing data into useful and coherent informational
patterns; to applying information to real questions and problems and,
in the process, creating knowledge; to developing wisdom that offers
the hope of transcendent unity. As our minds travel along this learning
continuum, our understanding and depth of awareness grow, reshape
themselves, and continue to evolve. At the same time, the great unexpected disrupters—imagination, spontaneity, and revelation—enable
us to see the world differently and change it.
Socrates believed that we learn best by asking essential questions
and testing tentative answers against reason and fact in a continual and
virtuous circle of honest debate. We need to approach the contemporary knowledge explosion and the technologies propelling this new
enlightenment in just that manner. Otherwise, the great knowledge
and communication tsunami of the 21st century may drown us in a
sea of trivia instead of lifting us up on a rising tide of possibility and