Monday, January 27, 2014

The Liberal Arts and Technologies - A New Model

Please Note: This is an earlier version of my thinking that I have left up for historical reasons.  Please see the updated model.

This model of education refines the concepts of the trivium, quadrivium and areas of technology education as follows (it is not really new, just refined and expanded): 

Please note the following implications of this model:

  • The Liberal Arts areas are separated by the “quantitative” and “qualitative” areas (as is the trivium and quadrivium)
  • Each area lower on the chart is foundational and prerequisite for each area above it
  • The concept of “technology” is more broadly defined than common usage, as being "the methods of doing something of value", and includes the qualitative areas of technology as well as the traditional quantitative-focused technologies (So with this definition we do actually already teach an overview of the various areas of "technology" because there are economic "technologies", social "technologies", etc..)
  • In this model, the liberal arts areas have inherent value because they are required foundations to creating value in the (broadly defined) "technologies" areas
  • The arts and music are included under the area of “social technologies”. They are special in that they have less restrictions on creative freedom than other technology areas, but they don’t get their own category because all areas of technology should include as much creativity as allowed (such as how architecture/civil engineering doesn't have as much creative freedom as art, for example).
  • Education and Communication are special, but they don't get their own areas because they are integral areas of "Information Technologies", in the broadest sense of that term
  • Each of the qualitative and quantitative liberal arts areas are interchangeable with their partner by a process of quantification or qualification (i.e., characterization). 
  • Theoretical science is separated from observational science. Observational science correlates well with recording of history and differs only in that one is quantitative and the other is qualitative.
  • Language includes logic/reasoning since logic is qualitative, so language includes both communication and reasoning (and logic is as key as communicating)
  • Math includes both quantitative reasoning and communicating, so formula literacy/communication is as key as computation

Note that this model doesn't directly address the concept of becoming expert in at least one particular area to be able to trade/monetize that expertise with other experts, in order to obtain division of labor/economy of scale and therefore maximize "value" (note: value is not the same as "monetized value"). So learning an overview of the areas of technologies is more akin to learning the liberal arts areas than it is in just training for a career/job.

Also, when discussing these “areas of knowledge”, I am actually thinking of the term "knowledge" in the “object oriented” sense (a computing term). So, I am using the term “knowledge” in the broader sense to include “ways of thinking”, information and relationships/connections (“Wisdom” might be a better term, but the term “knowledge” is more commonly used). That correlates well with constructivism, instructivism and connectivism, which correlates well with the human brain (thought, memory, and communication).

Using this broader definition of knowledge, what educational institutions do is "pre-cache" (sorry for the computer term) the "ways of thinking", information and relationships/connections/community, that we believe will be useful to the student sometime in the future.