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The Power of Good Information, and Where to Find it

Good information is abundant, but you must know where to look to find it. Here are a few tips.

Several years ago when I was in graduate school, someone told me something that I’ll never forget: “knowledge is power”. I have learned to embrace these words because I’ve grown to understand that knowledge enables a person to improve themselves and to make informed decisions about family, health, education, and life in general.

Knowledge isn’t innate. In other words, it’s not something you’re born with. It’s something you build and acquire through an accumulation of experience and good information. It is the culmination of a process, that if done with patience and humility, eventually results in wisdom.

Knowledge cannot be built using assumptions, conjecture, or inaccuracies. These are the building blocks of ignorance. Knowledge requires good information. Fortunately, good information is abundant in today’s society. We are surrounded by it, but you must know where to look. So where do you go to find the good stuff? Here are a few tips:

The web: information on the free web is abundant, but unfortunately, not everything is reliable. When searching the web for information, it is important to keep this in mind: anybody can, and anybody will publish anything online. So, it is important to evaluate what you find for reliability. These criteria will help you determine if you’ve found a good source of information: accuracy, authority, objectivity, statement of purpose, and currency. Information that doesn’t meet these criteria should be carefully scrutinized for reliability and credibility. For example, a web document with inaccurate information is unreliable and essentially useless for creating real knowledge.

Libraries: these are repositories of information. They provide access to books and other valuable resources. I happen to really appreciate well written books; they are compilations of knowledge and are especially useful for understanding a topic. Public libraries allow us to tap into that knowledge for free and they hold a valued position in an informed society. Public libraries are a great equalizer because they make information available to everyone regardless of income, age, gender, race, social status, or religion.

BadgerLink: sadly, many people are not aware of this amazing resource. BadgerLink is a product of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. It is a powerful collection of databases that provide Wisconsin residents access to magazine and scholarly journal articles, archived newspapers, online encyclopedias and books, and educational videos. BadgerLink is available to all Wisconsin residents with a valid public library card and it can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. To explore this great resource, visit the BadgerLink homepage and look for the “Library Card Access” link on the right side of the page: http://www.badgerlink.net/

As I said earlier, knowledge is power. Knowledge enables individuals to do great things and gives us courage to strive for a better society, even in the face of adversity. Among many things, knowledge enables us to change legislation, design new products and procedures, and make wise decisions for ourselves and our families.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

4 Greenfield February 09, 2012 at 04:47 PM
We need to teach our students how to differentiate between valid and untrustworthy sources of information. This skill should be integrated in every subject taught in school. Since the internet is a relatively new invention, many of today's adults were not taught how to navigate to reliable websites, and may not understand that the content may be more opinion-biased rather than research-driven. Also, it seems that many of today's adults are so untrustful of any kind of educated factual information that they chose to discount all facts and rely instead on their limited "personal" experience. Case on point: a recent blogger on the subject of changing school start times wrote, " hsmsparent 10:56 pm on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 Myths, reports, statistics whatever I believe the best way to learn more about the matters at hand are thru real life experiences. The last thing I am going to say on this matter is thru the last 18 years of my life experiences the change in start times barely scratches the surfaces of the education issues in the Greenfield school district. In a way I would like to see this time change pass so the people that are so gun ho on this with all their medical reports, documentions etc. will finally see that start times are no where near the root of the education problems in this district."
David Pettersen February 13, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Hey! Personal experiences are important too! I don't care what kind of research you have to back something up! Those were not my comments, but I think that the person who wrote that was simply speaking opinion. They were absolutely right! "hsmsparent" is a smart individual who is speaking on their own behalf, and what they wrote is logical. There is nothing wrong with your right to freedom of speech.
4 Greenfield February 15, 2012 at 06:41 AM
I would hope that as a Greenfield student that someone is teaching you about research methods and how to distinguish between valid and invalid methods, as well as the inherent limitations of personal experience. Hmsparent was correct in stating that there are many factors that influence education problems in Greenfield but that does not mean that school start time is not one of them. They all need to be considered and prioritized if Greenfield decides to forward with a long-range school improvement plan.
David Pettersen February 15, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Yes, they say things about not trusting the internet all the time and so on and so forth. I agree with you--they already were considered twice, I believe--and the board voted "NO". So that's the way we intend to leave it.
4 Greenfield February 16, 2012 at 06:27 AM
What do you mean by saying "that's the way we intend to leave it?" Who is we? It would be up to the school board to decide whether or not to consider improvements which might include changing the early school start time. I wasn't aware that either you or I had a vote.
David Pettersen February 17, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I know we don't have the vote, but we do have the right to voice our opinions to the board. That is the way that we [as Greenfield] intend to leave it at. Let's be honest, Dolores and her friends from out-of-state or wherever they're from want to make a change that is not going to do anything. If possible, I hope Dolores would be able to visit our school if she tries. That's the only way she'll see. Yes, there are some kids who fall asleep, but she would see a lot more than that if she went to GHS for a visit.

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