Sunday, May 30, 2004

Information Literacy as a Liberal Art This is by Jeremy J. Shapiro and Shelley K. Hughes. The subtitle is "Enlightenment proposals for a new curriculum."

From the site:

What does a person need to know today to be a full-fledged, competent and literate member of the information society? As we witness not only the saturation of our daily lives with information organized and transmitted via information technology, but the way in which public issues and social life increasingly are affected by information-technology issues - from intellectual property to privacy and the structure of work to entertainment, art and fantasy life - the issue of what it means to be information-literate becomes more acute for our whole society. Should everyone take a course in creating a Web page, computer programming, TCP/IP protocols or multimedia authoring? Or are we looking at a broader and deeper challenge - to rethink our entire educational curriculum in terms of information?

In responding to these questions, it is useful to return to the 18th-century Enlightenment, when thinkers began to confront the relationship between scientific progress and the emergence of a free society. It is exactly 200 years since the publication of Condorcet's Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, the Enlightenment's greatest philosophy of history manifesto, written while Condorcet - mathematician, scientist, philosopher, educational reformer, journalist - was in hiding from the Jacobin terror of the French Revolution. In his Sketch, Condorcet told the story of humanity as a story of progress, in which "nature has joined together indissolubly the progress of knowledge and that of liberty, virtue, and respect for the natural rights of man," leading inevitably to humanity's "perfection" and "happiness." Condorcet is relevant to us today because he was attempting to project and plan for the future at a historical turning point.

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