Why do I need to learn this?

College Blog Friday, 24 June 2022

Recently my Year 12 Business Studies class has been learning about ways to assess the financial performance of a business. This is no easy task when you don’t have to look far to find companies ‘cooking the books’ to mislead the public. In fact, I can still remember attending a leadership summit as a high school student only to learn that one of the keynote speakers commissioned to inspire the audience was a key figure in the mismanagement of a large insurance company. 

The challenge facing young people is not accessing information. The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes was right. “There’s no end to the publishing of books” (Ecclesiastes 12, the message).

We have never had more information available at our fingertips. This information is growing exponentially too. According to one source, every day there are 500 million tweets sent, 294 billion emails sent, 65 billion messages sent on WhatsApp (of which I think a half are messages about whether soccer games on the weekend are on or off!), 5 billion searches made and 463 exabytes of data created globally.

The challenge is being able to distil information to understand what it means. One of the learning dispositions we intentionally grow at Norwest is distilling. This involves condensing information of various types to extract the essential meaning and enrich our understanding.

The concept of distilling is something a science teacher would be more qualified to speak about. But it involves taking the advice of Albert Einstein:

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”.

The process of extracting the essential meaning of a concept is something teachers do every day so that students are not overwhelmed. But the role of educators is not just to make things easier for students but also to prepare for a data rich but wisdom poor world.

One of the best ways to distil meaning and understanding is by changing your understanding into a different form. Taking a diagram from a textbook and converting it into a human diorama. Developing a metaphor, a comic strip, a meme or a picture which gets to the heart of what something is about.

By understanding the need to distil information and growing the skills and discernment to know when this is important, students at Norwest are becoming more equipped to build purposeful lives. Lives which are curious about God’s world and who can look beyond the clickbait of a provocative headline to investigate what is really going on. By growing in this way, students grow in their capacity to prepare not only for exams but are also growing in the wisdom needed to understand themselves and their place in God’s world and to be able to respond rather than be overwhelmed by the challenges they will face with wisdom. So we can pray:

Give us discernment in the face of troubling news reports. Give us discernment to know when to pray, when to speak out, when to act, and when to simply shut off our screens and our devices, and to sit quietly in your presence, casting the burdens of this world upon the strong shoulders of the one who alone is able to bear them up. Amen.

Andrew Beitsch
Director of Professional Learning and Accreditation

Source: https://rabbitroom.com/2020/03/a-liturgy-for-those-flooded-by-too-much-information/