“If we are afraid to reveal our lack of knowledge we will not be able to learn.”

Assignment: Does the present system of education encourage us to admit our lack of knowledge, or is there too much pressure to demonstrate the acquisition of knowledge? Plan your response, and then write an essay.

People are born with an inner aspiration and willingness to learn. Even as children, when our character wasn’t developed, we were creating our own myths and stories to explain the things we didn’t understand. The path of learning is not easy.

The foundation of knowledge formed during childhood determines our future interests, goals, and devotion to learning. No one can achieve knowledge without recognizing ignorance first. However, the genuine curiosity of children is suppressed as soon as they become part of the educational system. They are afraid to ask “silly” questions, since their teachers expect them to be smart and know the answers to everything.

When children become part of a group that tests and judges his knowledge, they start perceiving ignorance as a disadvantage. People avoid thinking about the things they don’t know; it is in their nature to find a way around the things that cause discomfort.

When a teacher asks a question, the students who know the answer feel good about themselves, and all others try to avoid direct eye contact. This is a serious disadvantage of the educational system that has consequences throughout our entire lives. We cannot achieve any level of knowledge if we don’t assess the position from which we move on.

The fire that Prometheus gifted to mankind symbolizes knowledge. Why is knowledge hidden from us? Why do we have to try hard to get to it? It is in our nature to try to understand things, but we have to start from somewhere. When the teachers, lectures, textbooks, and standardized tests impose the things we are supposed to know, our natural curiosity slowly fades away. There is too much pressure to demonstrate our knowledge, so we are ashamed to ask questions and contemplate for answers.

Knowledge, in its deeper sense, is open for those who manage to transform their minds and turn them into instruments of observation. Before we can understand the world that surrounds us, we have to realize that there are many things we don’t know. When we accept our ignorance, we will be on our way to cure it.

Instead of teaching us how to think and wonder, teachers are forcing us to study and limit our minds to the materials they serve. That’s why we need to push the boundaries of the imposed standards and feel free to accept our ignorance. That is not an easy admission to make, since it carries a great responsibility to learn.

My grandmother used to say “we spend a lifetime in learning, and still die as fools.” I think she understood exactly what Thoreau meant. Ignorance needs to be seen from a broader, more complex perspective. Instead of a weakness, we should perceive it as potential for growth, as soon as we are committed to fill in the gaps and strive for knowledge.

Read new assignment prompt “Is it possible to maintain conflicting loyalties?” – by Eric Felten.

 

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