To the Editor:
In “Reaching Beyond the Ivory Tower Into the Classroom” (April 4, 2012), University of Southern California President C.L. Max Nikias and USC professor William G. Tierney ask, “How can research universities become engaged in our public schools?”
I have a very specific suggestion—a way to operationalize their call to “knock down the knowledge silos.”
Humans—all humans—possess an amazing system for organizing, integrating, and creating knowledge. The power of that system begins to be evident almost from the moment of birth.
Formal schooling ignores that implicitly known system, opting instead for one based on the academic disciplines and school subjects. This “invented” system, formally adopted in the late 19th century, resists knowledge integration. And, because it arbitrarily compartmentalizes knowledge, it blocks the relating processes essential to creativity.
A research project that demonstrates the centrality of our “natural” system for constructing knowledge, and the ability of that system to contextualize and enrich our adopted system, would revolutionize schooling.
The country that does that first will move its young to levels of intellectual performance beyond the reach of today’s standards and measures of accountability.
The writer is a retired public school teacher, school administrator, and college professor.
A version of this article appeared in the May 09, 2012 edition of Education Week as ‘Natural’ Knowledge Systems Need Research