Saturday, January 28

More On Education

I believe that education should promote in pupils a better relationship with ignorance. Teachers should tell us not only what we know, but also what we don't know. "Hey look, there is so much great art, literature, physics and politics that you don't know anything about!" We are all natural learners and will pursue areas of interest without hesitation. The physics will be learned, if the resources are available and the interest is present. Eventually, educators will say "Hey, there is so much great physics that No One knows anything about!" and pupils will push the boundaries of knowledge.

Our schools must embrace a balance between knowledge and ignorance: ignorance to lead the student forward, and knowledge to fill in the emptyness and to reveal the next beachhead of ignorance. Ignorance is infinite, but it can always be pushed back by adding knowledge. This process can happen in an individual who is learning the basics of a field of study, or in a group of scientists who are breaking new ground. The same process of ignorance yielding to knowledge is taking place in both groups.

The worst aspect of current education is when students are forced to learn that which they have no interest in. I remember learning, in grade 4, about the three different types of rocks: sedimentary, metamorphic, igneous. I knew about rocks from playing in the dirt and I knew I didn't need to know any more about them. I didn't know anything about geology; I didn't even know there was such a thing as geology. At that time I had no concept of geology as a large mental space that I was completely ignorant about. Because of this, the process of learning about rocks felt like someone was injecting my mind with inappropriate information, which was true.

If the teachers had given me a sense of what Geology was and could be, about what cutting edge geologists were learning about the Earth, if the scope of my ignorance was shaped, then learning about rocks would have felt like I was making progress: I was pushing back the darkness of my own ignorance and approaching the reaches of general knowledge.

2 Comments:

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Sam said...

I have the same nickname as your name... cool blog.

 
At 11:41 PM, Blogger Sam said...

Thanks for bring up my spirits about story writing... I am much more of an Artist than a writer... but thanks!

 

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