1998 Council On Ideas
Position Statement

1996 Council on Ideas Members:
Mary Catherine Bateson
Alan Kay
Todd Siler
Roberto Suro

Humankind is still in grade school. We don't yet know all that we need to know to flourish. But we already know enough to destroy ourselves. Every major threat we are now facing...from world population explosion to environmental pollution to violence...is linked to the problems of learning. The 1996 Council on Ideas believes that the solutions begin with the lifelong human capacity to enjoy and share the process of learning. Learning must become a means to bridge social fragmentation. Finally we need to take responsibility for the way we act on our learning.

  1. Learning and education are not the same. All too often educational institutions, while trying to transmit information and skills, extinguish curiosity and the delight in learning.
  2. To facilitate learning we must break down barriers of compartmentalization and specialization.
  3. Learning requires much more than incorporating information. It involves a continuing process of connecting information and applying it in new contexts. This includes a search for meaning and coherence.
  4. The unequal distribution of learning reinforces social fragmentation and violence. Shared learning is one basic element of community.
  5. Openness to learning does not entail the abandonment of traditional teachings, but the ability to add, expand, compare and integrate knowledge. It does entail the willingness to set aside prejudice and to think crtically. We are not what we know, but what we are willing to learn. We respect others not for what they know, but for what they are willing to learn.