As tall ship sailors, we uniquely operate with our feet firmly planted upon two decks. We honor the past by sailing using the time-honored, best principles of the anachronistic art and science of tall ship sailing. At the same time, we apply the latest, cutting-edge educational techniques. If you read our post below from October 3rd (“Education Under Sail: The “Unconference”), you know this year’s education forum adopts a recent concept from the corporate world. The unconference places the creation of the forum’s agenda in attendee’s hands. Forum participants choose where to invest interest and energy. On top of an format, the forum will add from another contemporary idea from business, knowledge management.
Most versions of knowledge management–or KM, as adherents refer to it–rely in theory on a pyramidal structure. KM begins at the base with facts, quantitative or qualitative. As humans begin to collect and order these facts they become data. Data clustered into coherent groups becomes information. Information, when provided a context, turns into knowledge. Gather and integrate enough knowledge and one gains wisdom. From wisdom one reaches, I suppose, Nirvana, or some such thing. But rather than attempting to achieve total enlightenment in Charleston, our forum will strive to top out at the level of knowledge and be happy at that.
Business literature is abuzz about knowledge management. Pick up any magazine or journal about business practice and there’s a good chance an article on KM awaits the reader. Added to the corporate wiring diagrams showing CEOs (Chief Executive Officers), CFOs (Chief Financial Officers), COO (Chief Operating Officers), is yet another TLA (Three-Letter Acronym): CKO–Chief Knowledge Officer. It’s become that important in U.S. industry.
The academic literature recently lit up with a tentative answer to an important question in KM: What is the most effective way for humans to share knowledge? The answer they developed and are now feverishly investigating is blazingly obvious to us simple sailors. KM empiricists are only now discovering the power of the sea story. Yep, the most effective way one human can impart knowledge to another, these scientists “discovered,” is through story telling. And Academe is all a-twitter over it.
Who are we, the original imparters of knowledge through sea stories, to sit idly by and let lab-coated landlubbers usurp our rich legacy of the whopper? We’ll use Wednesday morning, November 8th, to take back the scuttlebutt. We invite forum attendees to come loaded with a story about their successes (or incredibly embarrassing stories of failures, should you choose). We’ll have time for about eight of them by putting about a ten-minute time limit on them. We’ll also insist they have a teaching point, as do all good sea stories. From these stories we’ll draw up ideas for exploring sail training and ocean literacy.