Disseminating Knowledge

-A +A

          Wow!  I’m an expert.  The topic in this journal issue is “Disseminating Knowledge.”  So I am a professor.  That is what I do.  I pass along knowledge.  This article should be easy.  After all, I am an expert.

          But is this really true? Everyone knows we live in a generation unlike any that have already passed.  Knowledge is everywhere and easily available by way of the internet.  Using various search engines, you can locate lots of knowledge, even on obscure topics.  Recently I wanted to know how to build a compose pile, using grass, leaves, and small tree limbs.  These rot and make good fertilizer for other plants. The internet located this information and gave me a way to connect to it.

          However, this article is not about the internet.  That is a completely different topic.  Here we want to focus on certain questions related to disseminating knowledge.  The internet is about a method of disseminating information only.  We want to think more broadly than this and especially for the audience of this magazine.

          We see that this magazine is about disseminating information, but it too is a method.  Just concentrating on the magazine does not answer many other questions we might have.

          First of all, why would we disseminate information?  The first reason is that information helps.  A young friend of mine was diagnosed with a very serious disease recently.  We wanted to find out all we could about this disease.  It would have been helpful had the hospital gave her some  booklets or papers written about this disease so the patient and her  family could read it.  But the hospital did not.  I am sure that many families have been helped by finding information in this magazine.  When people know more about their situation, they feel more in control.  Sometimes even information that seems like bad news can actually be helpful if it helps the patient and family know the boundaries of what the problem really is.  

          Information helps us also know our possibilities.  This is a good thing.  We believe that the information in this magazine has helped you learn how to cope with situations, whether they be crisis or reoccurring problems.  You are better equipped because you have the information.

          The truth is, knowledge is power.  When we have knowledge, we feel powerful.  When we have no knowledge, we do not feel powerful enough to cope.

          The second reason we disseminate knowledge is like the first.  We disseminate knowledge because we desire equality.  Only dictators and demagogues hoard knowledge and keep the people ignorant.  Ignorant people are easier to lead.  But when all people share knowledge, we are equals.  We know the same things.  No one is superior to the others.  It is important that people in the helping professions to share knowledge that is appropriate and applicable.  In this way, they are helping people help themselves. 

          Recently my wife went to a workshop where she was taught the basic steps in cleaning a house after a flood.  Then having this knowledge, she is free to use the knowledge to her benefit, or she can share with others for their benefit.  This is very basic.  Our  government cannot  come and clean every house.  Therefore the people need to be able to do it themselves.

          In the same way, we disseminate knowledge about personal relationships, about the various problems people have, about how families work and when families are dysfunctional.  The average people having this knowledge can help their family and friends as well as help themselves.  The more knowledge we give people, the more they can function on their own.  We are creating a society of people with equal access to information.

          Are there any problems in disseminating information?  Yes there are problems.  I see this all the time in my teaching.  The young men and women who are my students may not have experiences that equip them to use the information.  Information must be applicable.  In order for information to be applicable, the person receiving the information should have some need for it.  Without a need for it, they will hear it, see it, and quickly forget it.  Sometimes though, people might receive information which they really need but they do not know they need it.  They do not appreciate the value of the knowledge they are receiving.  Sometimes this is the case in my classroom and I have to instruct the students as to why they should pay attention.

          In conclusion, I wish to congratulate you for readying this magazine.  You are seeking knowledge and we are happy to give it to you.  A writer must always remember his audience – or this writer will be disseminating information no one cares about.  Giving information is good, but receiving information is also good.