From knowledge acquisition to decision-making and responsibility

The importance of mindset

Gunter Maier


„Knowledge must become ability.“


Already Von Clausewitz emphasised the important difference between the two concepts knowledge and ability. In the field of modern education of leaders one is aware of this fact, too, because one knows that mere imparting of knowledge does not automatically qualify a person to act adequately in concrete situations, although he or she possibly knows how he or she ought to act. Thus, one has to differentiate between acquisition of (mere) knowledge and acquisition of decision-making and responsibility. As the focus of this essay is on something which has not been defined congruently, it is important to formulate a clear conception concerning the objectives in the beginning already. This essay is supposed to establish a foundation, compiling inherent information, in order to create a clear image of the subject. At the same time it refers to the knowledge of skilful practitioners of the last centuries to a large extent. This generated image is to give help to the persons responsible for education who improve training courses, by a clearer objective target of this training. Additionally, teaching methods and didactic contents can be selected and collocated in a more aimed way. Furthermore, understanding hiatuses and inconsistencies are to be identified, thus pointing out fields of activity to science. The essay is supposed to compile relevant facts, but it does not claim to investigate them comprehensively, let alone develop an overall conception. A mindset is essential, but it is not easily palpable. Especially for persons responsible for education it is very indistinct and for this reason not depictable offhand, so unfortunately it often is not regarded. This has negative consequences, as without generating a mindset with suitable education processes decision-making and responsibility, which is based on them, cannot be acquired systematically. Some people develop this decision-making and responsibility notwithstanding, but this is a product of chance, as they have been “supplied” with the wherewithal via other channels. Here exactly are the potentials of education. With a clear understanding of the educational objective, namely decision-making and responsibility based on a mindset, oriented towards the specific requirements, well-grounded education processes, and based on suitable curricula and teaching methods, education in the framework of new challenges can be optimized. The complex of themes is inter-connected and intensely interdisciplinary. One discipline alone will not be able to develop the necessary perspicuity. This essay does not claim to establish an overall picture. On the contrary, it is to show where the modules of knowledge are (partly hidden) in the particular disciplines, and which are to be conflated. Additionally, a subject has been demystified which had been treated indistinctly and sometimes even esoterically for centuries, certainly nor without any reason, because people wanted to protect their knowledge. By systematically compiling the modules of knowledge and combining them logically one can bring them to light. Thus, the subject of mindset gets that kind of attention it deserves today.