The Irrelevance of Knowledge
There are many times in life when knowing something doesn’t help you in the slightest. And yet we’re fed information daily throughout our entire lives, gathering nuggets of fact until we have a veritable warehouse stuffed to the rafters with stats, or trivia, song lyrics or movie quotes. Maybe even a mathematical formula or two.
This mismatched focus on knowledge is harrowingly evident in our education system, not that I’m about to dive into a political rant about education or anything. Although I will say that Michael Gove seems to have no legitimate claim to be education minister despite the fact he went to school. Scratch that, clearly he’s the most qualified man for that position. Not like it’s important or anything.
Returning to the matter in hand, schools in this country, and probably many others, focus on teaching information exclusively. Information is, of course, very important, and not a day goes by when I don’t use Planck’s constant* for something or other. Even exams themselves have a major flaw in this area, being nothing more than a collection of learned info scrawled onto paper by stressed out young people rather than being used to develop any important life skills, or even better, wisdom. Some exams, depending on the subject, are different. The humanities often require more application of knowledge than simply a regurgitation of it. Even the skills involved in these are fairly removed from everyday problems. I don’t tend to have to identify the subtle symbolism in the wording of a poem every day.
There is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is nothing more than what you know, whereas wisdom is knowing how to use what you know. A great man said that. I lie, I said it. Is not wisdom the more important quality? Knowing things alone will get one nowhere. I wish we could all focus on encouraging children to be wise rather than simply knowledgeable, but I recognise that in this world, wisdom must be preceded by common sense, and there’s such a lack of that around today that I hold little hope of anyone becoming truly wise. If the average man on the street had to choose which woman’s claims to the baby were true, he’d probably just cut it in half. Not quite King Solomon.
*6.62606957 × 10-34 m2 kg / s if you were wondering.