Insights from Morton High 

Goin' to the Dogs

The huge golden retriever raced from the living room bounding down the back steps over the peonies through the open car door. Ears and tongue flying she dove past the front seat with such force that she flew on beyond the back seat headed for the space she knew would be there in the back of our station wagon. There was only one problem. The car was not a station wagon, and the dog hit the glass of the back window with enough force to stun her momentarily.

When she came to her senses she had a puzzled and embarrassed expression in her eyes. She was used to our station wagon and was operating under the assumption that I was inviting her to go for a ride in OUR CAR. She didn't bother to assess the new information that presented itself, but simply believed that things don't change--a dangerous assumption for a dog or a person.

The rate of change in our lives is growing ever faster. My mother was born into an age when people traveled by horse and buggy, and one of her jobs was to trim the lamp wicks and polish the chimneys each night since there was no electricity. She remembered the first radio broadcasts, and eating the first cold cereal. I, on the other hand, am writing this on a laptop computer sitting outside without even the need of an electrical outlet.

Things change. I've just ordered the Encyclopedia Britannica on CD-ROM for the library. You could carry the entire work in your hand. Yes, that is 36 volumes, 44,000,000 words on one small DISC. Richard Wurman, in his book, Information Anxiety , points out that a student reading a weekday edition of the New York Times has access to more information than the average person would have experienced in a lifetime in seventeenth-century England.

He cites statistics showing that more information has been produced in the last 30 years than in the previous 5,000. About 1000 books are published internationally every day, and the total of all printed knowledge doubles every eight years. We simply cannot predict what the future will hold, but we can hope to equip students to deal with a swiftly changing world by assisting them and encouraging them in their search for knowledge.

It will not be enough to simply provide information. It is of equal importance to gain the wisdom to digest and use this knowledge or, like my retriever, we will find ourselves stunned and embarrassed.

 

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