Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 281 - November 2023




The Gurteen Knowledge Letter is a monthly newsletter that is distributed to members of the Gurteen Knowledge Community. You may receive the Knowledge Letter by joining the community. Membership is totally free. You may read back-copies here.

Gurteen Knowledge Letter
Issue 281 – November 2023

Recently, I hosted two Intergenerational Knowledge Cafés with Hank Kune, Charles Fowler, and Minal Kering as part of World Values Day.

These events united elders (aged 60 and above) and students (aged 16-18) to talk about their values. Though there were some technical difficulties, the Cafés were very successful overall.

The Cafés linked elders from various countries globally with pupils from schools in the UK, India, Kenya, and Nigeria. You may enjoy reading some of the wonderful feedback from the students in India.

  1. Reviving Oral Exams
    The value of oral assessments in education
  2. Lex Fridman
    Podcaster and research scientist at MIT
  3. Creating Marvelous Conversations with David Gurteen
    A "Because You Need to Know" Podcast
  4. Resisting Simple Narratives
    The allure of simple stories
  5. Do We Really Know What We Think We Know?
    The knowedge delusion
  6. The Rest Is Politics Podcast
    With Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell
  7. Please support my work
  8. Unsubscribe
  9. Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Reviving Oral Exams
The value of oral assessments in education

We’ve become so reliant on written exams and essays that we’ve forgotten the value of old-school oral assessments. This fascinating article, Bring Back the Lost Art of Oral Exams, reminds us that oral exams have a long, venerable history dating back millennia.

Though they faded in popularity over time, oral exams offer unique benefits — they eliminate cheating and plagiarism while providing a more dynamic test of students’ knowledge.

After analyzing their continued use in places like Norway, the author makes a compelling case that we should resurrect oral exams as an authentic way to evaluate true learning.

With new concerns over AI-generated content, the interactive nature of viva voce exams is more relevant than ever. It’s time we revisit this lost art and restore the power of the spoken word (oracy) in education.

Read the full article here.

Lex Fridman
Podcaster and research scientist at MIT

I subscribe to various RSS feeds that I read through Inoreader. I also use TweetDeck to follow people on X (Twitter). And I subscribe to many YouTube channels and podcasts. Of course, I'm on LinkedIn too. These are some of the main ways I keep up with what's happening in the world and learn from people. Let me introduce you to one such person.

Lex Fridman is a podcaster and research scientist at MIT, working on human-centered artificial intelligence.

The Lex Fridman Podcast has over 3 million subscribers on YouTube.

On his podcasts, Lex has in-depth conversations with leading thinkers in technology, science, and culture. His guests have included Elon Musk, Deepak Chopra, Roger Penrose, and other prominent figures.

Lex explores various topics, including AI, philosophy, psychology, physics, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, and more.

His conversational style aims to get to the core ideas and insights of his guests. I'd highly recommend his podcasts.

Creating Marvelous Conversations with David Gurteen
A "Because You Need to Know" Podcast

Edwin Morris has just released another intriguing episode in his Because You Need to Know podcast series — a conversation between Edwin and myself, David Gurteen, recorded last April. I just had the pleasure of listening to the podcast and thoroughly enjoyed it, as I had forgotten much of our wide-ranging dialogue.

In the conversation, Edwin and I explored topics including oracy, critical thinking, the idea that humans are not inherently rational thinkers but are designed to reason socially, the importance of listening, and more.

We discussed my work pioneering Knowledge Cafés, Junto clubs, and other conversational spaces to share ideas, akin to the coffee houses and salons of old.

I concluded by sharing my definition of Knowledge Management as having good conversations.

Take a listen; I think you may enjoy it.

Resisting Simple Narratives
The allure of simple stories

Many of our false beliefs seem convincing because they rely on simple, appealing stories. My friend David Creelman recently highlighted to me the tendency we have to readily accept straightforward narratives without verification.

In a post in my blook, The Allure of Simple Stories, I explore what drives this habit and possible ways to overcome this propensity.

Do We Really Know What We Think We Know?
The knowedge delusion

In a post in my blook on Conversational Leadership, I explore the notion that, as individuals, we know very little compared to what we think we know. A significant portion of what we consider knowledge is actually just beliefs that are based on trusting the statements of others.

Using examples like the motion of the Earth around the sun and human-caused climate change, I show how most of us accept facts like these without ever verifying them for ourselves. We outsource our knowledge to teachers, scientists, books, and other authorities.

While we may logically think through some of what we are told, we lack the time, resources, and expertise to honestly look at the primary evidence behind most of our beliefs. Our individual knowledge is more an illusion or delusion than hard-earned understanding.

I discuss research showing a surprising number of Americans think the sun orbits the Earth, revealing that many simply trust their senses over scientific authority. With climate change, most of us believe or disbelieve based on faith in certain institutions, not real comprehension.

Knowledge is mainly communal, based on tribal affiliations, yet we retain an illusion that we know more than we do. We are ignorant of the shallow nature of our knowledge.

You can read my full post here. Let me know your thoughts.

The Rest Is Politics Podcast
With Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell

If you seek insightful political discourse amidst the noise, I highly recommend The Rest is Politics podcast with Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell. Despite differing political perspectives, they engage in respectful, substantive conversations informed by their extensive government and journalism backgrounds.

Take their recent discussion on the Israel-Palestine conflict, for instance. Instead of simplifying the issue or taking sides, they thoughtfully explore its history, narratives, social media's impact, and mutual mistrust. It offers a deeper understanding of the complexity.

This podcast thoughtfully explores important topics. It provides insightful analysis instead of just soundbites and arguments. The podcast is both educational and engaging. It's well worth listening to.

Please help support my work.
I have been publishing the Gurteen Knowledge Letter every month for over 20 years, and most of you have received it for five years or more. My Knowledge Café also recently had its 20thth birthday in September 2022.

If you find my work valuable, please consider supporting me by donating $1 (or more) a month to become a Patron or making a small one-off contribution. Your assistance will help cover some of my website hosting expenses.

I have over 50 patrons so far—thanks to you all.

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Gurteen Knowledge Letter
The Gurteen Knowledge Letter is a free monthly e-mail-based newsletter. Its purpose is to stimulate thought about Conversational Leadership and Knowledge Management. You can find back issues here.

If you don't already receive this newsletter, you can register to receive it by email each month.

It is sponsored by the Henley Forum of the Henley Business School, Oxfordshire, England.

You may copy, reprint or forward all or part of this newsletter to friends, colleagues, or customers, so long as any use is not for resale or profit and I am attributed. If you have any queries, please get in touch with me.

Gurteen Knowledge
Fleet, United Kingdom

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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