The Art of Teaching: Knowledge

Chapter 3 with Commentary

Knowledge is the achievement of understanding. 

I hope this is simple enough to convey the intention of meaning, but not so vague as to leave you wondering if I know what I’m talking about. In my mind, though knowledge is accessible and free to all, it comes at a cost. Therefore, I see it as an achievement in understanding something in a different sense than you did before. 

Varying degrees and levels represent it, though profoundly, it is always applicable and usable to those who have it regardless of those levels. The ability to use a tool is knowledge, same as the ability to improve upon that tool and improve the quality of its outcome. Knowledge is often presented as experience, combining with street sense, common sense, wisdom, intelligence, learning, and age.  

I would argue that many individuals regard knowledge as fluid and ever-experienced. You make a choice, take action, and experience a consequence, which turns into more than it was before. You don’t have to stand in a particular place or engage in specific activities, or even know the “right” people. 

Knowledge is more than science; in fact, life defines it. 

Science is a search for understanding, but science declared there are areas of life it cannot touch. We can deduce that to have knowledge outside of science presents the idea that it exists on a far more intuitive level. It resonates as more than a tangible, testable entity.

Knowledge is not selfish. By natural order, it requires itself to be passed on and improved upon. 

To know something is to do something with that knowledge. If you don’t, then like muscle mass gained from working out, it will fade away and lose many of the qualities that initially defined it. As humanity is naturally curious, with an ever-increasing amount of questions to ask and pursue, knowledge is the prize to continually seek. This is a natural procedure. 

Should it remain stagnant, it will disappear; at least until another stumbles upon it. Then, unless that individual already possesses some competence in that subject, they will begin at square one within their realm of understanding. 

Knowledge is blunt and straightforward. What you think does not always equal what you have. Just as children learn the value of not touching hot surfaces or neanderthals puzzled at what a bone could become until one discovered it could be a weapon or a tool, knowledge will be what it is to the person. That is until the moment expands. 

It is impossible to live without knowledge indefinitely, though the quality is not the same as being devoid of it; however, knowledge does not differentiate among anyone acquiring it. It is free to all, and always will be.

Pride, justification, and fear are the antitheses of competence. 

Pride crushes commitment. Justification eliminates discomfort. Fear clouds the minds and refuses to clarify the light it needs to grow. 

I see these as straightforward. Humans love finding the easiest way to accomplish a task or the most direct way to avoid a harsh or undesirable consequence. Without revisiting nervousness, introduction, mystery, square one, or fresh eyes, we transform knowledge into something else. We bastardize it. 

These aspects, however undesirable, will eventually be faced on the road to knowledge. While not actively sought after, in the end, experiencing and overcoming them can provide incredible color and satisfaction, expanding on the wealth of knowledge already attained. 

Who loves experiencing the worst of life? Absolutely no one. However, and while I acknowledge this is highly arguable and relative to a personal perspective, what we learn from it can far outweigh the difficulty living it. If we don’t experience it, then we don’t know. If we don’t know, we can’t question. If we don’t ask, we don’t grow. 

They offer contrast, which gives knowledge its potential depth, definition, and shape. Knowledge was never intended to be two-dimensional.

Knowledge is not an exacting science that demands perfection; rather, it desires to begin and pursue. It requires continued commitment. It requires humility in the face of discomfort. It requires a passion for clarity. Knowledge respects the individual willing to work hard to acquire it; it does not care for entitlement, rights, fairness, or being deserving. It quite simply must be earned. 

Most of this paragraph has already been addressed previously. Application, elbow grease, trial, and error…living life without fear of it, and accepting and learning from the consequences.

To possess knowledge is not to solely possess facts, but instead, the tools and attitudes to effectively learn and communicate a subject. The student will not respect a teacher who cannot comprehend the subject and translate it effectively. 

For some reason, we find it easy to recognize a fraud after spending some time with them. I know this isn’t always true, but eventually, the truth will out. However, it takes experience with good and bad teachers to recognize a good one with more speed and efficiency. Teachers have to know their subjects. 

A good starting place when asking oneself “If” is to ask instead, “Can I explain this to a child and have them understand the concept?” A child, of course, will not be able to comprehend the complexity of nuclear science, but they can understand the concept of two things interacting to create something else. By proving the depth and breadth of knowledge, the sky becomes the limit, all because of a secure foundation. 

Foundation in anything is critical. There’s a religious parable that illustrates the difference between a wise man and a foolish man. Our location is at the beach. The foolish man builds his house upon the sand. He lives peaceably and without trouble for a while until the rains came, and the tide changed (I’m referring to the combination of both, not that the storms affect the tide). Then his house is swept away, and he’s left gawking. The wise man, on this same beach, built his house upon the rocks. When the rain came, and the tide changed, his house remained standing and mostly unaffected by the elements. This is the value of a good foundation.

Anything can be known. Anything is explorable. Anything can possess a question. As long as someone lives who want to know, the answers will be theirs. Remember, though, possessing it happens on condition of respect. It is only as valuable as it is allowed to be. 

How we treat someone, or something, reflects their value in our eyes and our desired relationship to them. Without question, this is true. But, this aspect can change. It’s a hard road to adjust personality and character, but it’s not impossible. Humanity loves stories where a person changes dramatically from one side to another. Look at Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas as an example.

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