Learning in the 21st-Century

Why will we learn differently in the 21st century?

Aristotle said there were three types of knowledge: epistêmê, technê, and phronesis. Epistêmê is knowledge of the world, thus the word epistemology, the study of knowledge. Technê is knowing the practice of a craft in the world, thus the words technique and technology. Phronesis is the least well-known of the three. It’s often translated as prudence, but not the kind that tells us to be cautious. Rather, it’s the ethics of our actions. In Aristotle’s time, the word essentially was used to refer to the impact our actions had on ourselves and others. Today, it doesn’t just apply to the here and now but to everywhere and in the future. If we want to tackle the crises of this century–which are global crises, be they climatic, environmental, economic, or geopolitical–we must make phronesis a pillar of knowledge as solid as epistêmê and technê are. And this we must do as much in our collective SUMMARY 22 Learning in the 21st Century and political action as in our individual behavior as responsible global citizens. It’s a shame that nearly all education systems put science at the top of their priorities, with engineering next in importance, while the ethics of our actions are studied only minimally and at a later stage in education.

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