Meaningful knowledge production by 21st century youth
27 May 2006

Meaningful knowledge production by 21st century youth

Arthur Harkins and I delivered a presentation

27 May 2006

Arthur Harkins and I delivered a presentation on “Meaningful knowledge production by 21st century youth” at the 2nd International Conference on Youth and Education for the 21st Century at Texas A&M, Corpus Christi, TX on May 31. Read on for the abstract or download the PowerPoint slides from


Meaningful Knowledge Production by 21st Century Youth

Arthur M. Harkins, Ph.D., Global Youth Policy and Leadership Concentration, Department of Educational Policy and Administration, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

John Moravec, M.I.M., Comparative and International Development Education, Department of Educational Policy and Administration, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

The three trends of globalization, emergence of the knowledge society and accelerating change contribute to what is best termed the New Paradigm in education. This New Paradigm reflects the emerging shifts in thought, beliefs, priorities and practice in regard to all levels of education in society.

This paper contends that creative knowledge production by youth is essential for societies planning to compete and collaborate successfully in the global economy of the New Paradigm. The chosen definition of youth extends heuristically across the spectrum of pre-k through the masters degree, or pre-k through 17.

Knowledge production results from the transformation of information into forms suitable for actionable decision making. This paper develops the thesis that youth who learn to participate in knowledge production can help catalyze a shift from curriculum consumption and mass education to knowledge production and personalized, meaningful education.

The paper defines five types of creative knowledge production which it asserts are critical to successful participation in the work and civic forces of the 21st Century. The five types of knowledge production, driven by constructivist theory and supported by continuously available advanced technology, are:

-Mode 1: rigorously developed scientific and scholarly knowledge;

-Mode 2: rigorous, collaboratively developed knowledge that is intended for highly practical applications;

-Mode 3: subjectively developed knowledge intended for personal applications;

-Mode 4: experientially developed knowledge that defines the capabilities and limitations of human contexts;

-Mode 5: integrative and chaordic knowledge that fosters the most effective uses of knowledge Modes 1-4.

The paper demonstrates how the five knowledge Modes can operate within a constructivist dynamic that offers youth a continuous stream of decision points, or event horizons, during each day of their lives. The paper will demonstrate the goodness of fit between this dynamic and the demands of everyday life in an innovative global economy.

The authors will conclude with caveats concerning the critical importance of advanced technology in the conversion of pre-k thorough 17 from curriculum consumption to knowledge production.

A Web site will be made available for continued dialogue on topics related to those presented by the authors.

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