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Is Knowledge a Curse?

"In an article titled “The Curse of Knowledge”, it’s noted that as a person learns more about a subject, it becomes increasingly more difficult to discuss that subject with someone who doesn’t posses that knowledge. It simply becomes harder and harder to empathise with them.

This means that the more educated and passionate you are about a subject, the harder you will find it to discuss or teach it to others.

This effect is one of the cited possibilities for why teaching is so difficult a career, since it means that eventually teachers will become more and more disillusioned with the endless wave of perceived stupidity they’re forced to endure."

All of the above is from the article I read online, not my words.
What do you think? Is knowledge a curse?


Closing Statement from W T

Knowledge........information obtained from experience or education.

A lot has been said in this debate/conversation about knowledge.

One may conclude that knowledge, in and of itself, is not a curse. Knowledge is essential in order to function in society, and in order to help others.

Knowledge though, is just the beginning.......there are other things worth seeking beyond knowledge...........

Among those other things worth seeking are............ understanding.......... discernment............and perhaps, if we are fortunate enough, we might obtain...........wisdom.

How we handle the knowledge we have is strictly up to us.

The world is filled with passionate individuals who hold a wealth of knowledge, and who also possess understanding of that knowledge. Wisely they seek to share their knowledge with others, whenever, and wherever they can.

The example of Nan Hauser which is discussed in this conversation is a fine example for all of us. There are many other examples worldwide.

May we all continue to see knowledge as a blessing and use it wisely to better ourselves and others.

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    Oct 15 2013: i find the description highly accurate
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      Oct 16 2013: Seen by your teachers our by yourself? And yes, it does make a difference. :o)
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        Oct 16 2013: i'm a teacher, though not by profession
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        Oct 16 2013: this question is not relevant to the topic, but my "students" range from hopeless morons to very smarts.
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          Oct 16 2013: well, to me it is relevant, sorry about that.

          so you do perceive your students as stupid?
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          Oct 16 2013: and teaching 'hopeless morons' wouldn't make sense without hope, would it?
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          . . 100+

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          Oct 16 2013: ..

          " If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will go through life believing it is stupid ".....said Einstein and I think this guidance is worth following.

          I appreciate the honesty. The words "stupid", "hopeless" and "moron" have no place whatsoever in the vocabulary of a teacher. When a person doesn't love teaching, and is so detached from the joy of teaching, it is indicative that passion is displaced and misplaced.

          There is a passion in every human being in this world which deserves to be employed at doing precisely what it excels at doing. The world needs passion to be placed behind the corresponding job.

          It is a privilege to be a teacher. It is a privilege and a great responsibility to be entrusted with the fertile ground of an open mind.
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        Oct 16 2013: someone being a hopeless moron is not known beforehand
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        Oct 16 2013: you asked that already, and i said:

        "my "students" range from hopeless morons to very smarts."

        about kicking: 1, i'm not in the position to kick them out, 2, hard to know when someone is hopeless, 3, somebody might learn from it
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          Oct 16 2013: How can we learn from a situation if we have already labeled some participants "hopeless morons"?
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          Oct 16 2013: So your perception ranges from hopeless morons to very smarts, correct?

          to 1) Would you if you were?

          to 2) I assume, you naming someone a hopeless moron happens after a hard period of making this conclusion, right?

          to 3) 'might' is the presence of hope, correct?
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        Oct 16 2013: colleen: others can learn from it. hopeless morons can't.
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          Oct 16 2013: Krisztián,
          "Hopeless moron" seems like a rather subjective label. If you think/feel someone cannot learn anything, that is a subjective judgment, and only your perception/judgment.

          Personally, I don't believe anyone is hopeless....even you! I know you appreciate a sense of humor:>)
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        Oct 16 2013: 1, sure. out with them.
        2, yep
        3, hope for others, not the hopeless morons. every word ever written might be useful for some reader some day (if it has any merit obviously).
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          Oct 16 2013: So in short, you are frustrated by the fact, that you are not in the position to kick those out you consider hopeless morons, right?

          Could you imagine other teacher teaching those 'morons' something? Could it be you who just can't?

          This is heading towards 'self reflection abilities', so be careful if you choose to answer ... :o)
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          Oct 16 2013: Do you think 'patience' is a necessity, no option, a teacher must have?
      • W T 100+

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        Oct 16 2013: You bring out some good points......it is interesting that your last question involved patience......I see this as the hallmark to any conversation that has someone with a high level of knowledge and experience, dealing with another individual with a lack of knowledge and desire to learn.

        Thank you Lejan.

        I look forward to the rest of your exchange.
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          Oct 16 2013: My last question was actually a catch question, as Krisztián himself once mentioned, that he is not very patience.

          If this is a general quality or exceptional in combination with me, I don't exactly know ... :o)

          Yet I do agree with you that patience is a hallmark in this context and as you rightly added goes for individuals with a desire to learn.
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        Oct 17 2013: "you are frustrated by the fact, that you are not in the position to kick those out"

        certainly, but let me point out that it is not the solution, but rather, giving up in a case without hope of a real solution, and distancing myself from it.

        "Could you imagine other teacher teaching those 'morons' something?"

        no, and it is included in the adjective "hopeless". be mindful that i answered the question literally. that is, i can't imagine. i'm not sure it is impossible.

        "Do you think 'patience' is a necessity,"

        it is situational. teaching 7 years olds is very different than teaching adults. it is not black and white, one needs some patience, more in some cases, less in others. at the highest levels, the optimum is very very low. we don't want the time of a genius wasted on anything else than other geniuses.
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          Oct 17 2013: While I was at the University I earned some money at the side teaching at organizations and also in private lessons and later I trained several people on their jobs, apprentices as well as customers.

          In all this time I never encountered any hopeless student, but at times I found myself hopeless to be the right teacher for some.

          Teaching is more than the exchange of knowledge to me, by which being a student or being a teacher becomes irrelevant even though they are not the same.

          What I found was, that I can not teach anyone anything if I fail to spark their interest in learning. Yet this is my fault being the teacher, not the students fault. This sort of 'fault' is not to confuse with its usual, more negative meaning. Not at all. It goes more in the direction of 'incompatibility', by which the 'authority' in the given context takes on the responsibility alone.

          I learned this in a very unexpected way. A colleague of mine got a baby and I was asked if I could take her student temporarily on a subject I was not really familiar with and to be honest, have never done very well myself. Chemistry it was and so we tried.

          So we went by the book, at first, and for my guidance. The student was a very shy, very introvert teenager whose parents were highly concerned about her grades at school and, as it seemed, about her whole future too. So perfect conditions for my knowledge in chemistry to make things even worse. But then something very remarkably happened during our lessons, as without my intention, I became the catalyst of my student.

          I told her at the very beginning, that I myself was going to learn within the process and that both of us would be lucky if I manage to be slightly ahead of her, so that I could remain to be her teacher. So we started and to avoid silence I read out loud and thought out loud so she got to see the how my neurons were trying to make sense of what they just stumbled across.

          to be continued ...
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          Oct 17 2013: I wasn't aware about this at that time, as I was only overcoming silence which otherwise would have occurred. And while I was riddling and marveling in the process, she sat silently at my side with her eyes in the same book.

          After our lesson was over, she left, and I was almost certain that her parents would cancel our next scheduled lessons for good reasons. But I was wrong. She returned the next week and we proceeded in the same fashion.

          Every now and then she asked me to repeat my train of thought or to re-phrase it for her to follow my path. Well, that wasn't a big problem to me and on we went.

          Because of her shyness, I felt that it may be good for some humor so most of my molecules came with little faces and they held hands when they reacted and so on and so forth. And all the sketches I made on paper she took home with her.

          Some weeks later things became more difficult to me to understand 'on the fly', and often we parted with my promise to present the solution in the following lesson. Which I did, up to that time, where she herself came up with the same solution, the same understanding.

          And something else began to change, as more and more she took over 'my' thinking. She began to read out loud and to think out loud, so we could compare each others understanding and verify our understanding in the books exercises.

          We spent three month together learning chemistry and at the end we were laughing a lot, about and at each others abilities.

          Her finals came at the end of the year and we passed perfectly and there was no need anymore for her to take any more lessons, as she had found her way of learning.

          Was I a teacher? Definitely not in chemistry, although I got payed for that.

          One year later, after she finished high-school, she returned to me just to let me know about her decision to have enrolled at a University to major in chemistry, she was that good!

          This was the icing on our cake and me more than speechless.

          Exceptional? Not to me anymore.
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          Oct 17 2013: I always had the luxury, even at work or when I was teaching at organizations, to find solutions for students and with my teaching colleagues, when I wasn't the right person to teach.

          We consider this only a luxury, because our usual education system isn't flexible enough to incorporate this very basic principle in teaching. And even worse, as many countries organized their schools based on civil servants with a lifelong job guarantee and very high hurdles to suspend someone once he(she got in.

          Usually all of us have made this experience at school, that a new teacher in the same topic either boost or kill our interests. This got to stop! Teacher as well as students got to have the choice for each other, if true education was our real purpose.

          There is no rocket science here at all. Just inflexible and poorly organized frameworks, because what gets 'produced' still is good enough to feed the job markets.

          For our own sake, this got to be changed!
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          Oct 17 2013: Krisztian,

          "...we don't want the time of a genius wasted on anything else than other geniuses"

          Who is the judge of what "genius" is, who has it and who doesn't?

          How do we search for genius that has lain dormant for whatever reason?

          It is quite possible (probable, even) that genius can get cloaked in low self-esteem, lack of confidence etc. to the point where it goes unseen by those whose job it is to see it.

          Someone with hidden or dormant genius might be initially seen as a "hopeless moron". Just think what a waste that would be!
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        Oct 17 2013: sorry, but there is absolutely no chance that i read 7-8000 characters. my todo file is way longer than it should be
    • W T 100+

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      Oct 16 2013: Yes Krisztian, I found it highly accurate also.

      I must admit that throughout my teaching career I have worked with many an educator who have spoken about their students as "stupid". I do not know how a teacher can come right out and speak like this of children, but nevertheless I have heard it, so denying that this attitude exists does no one any good.

      Why do you think people with a lot of knowledge act this way Krisztian?
      When you personally know that your knowledge is more complete than the person you are speaking with, do you get impatient trying to explain yourself? Or are you patient and kind?
      • Oct 17 2013: I have heard teachers call students, not just stupid, but retards and other names. I have heard teachers say why should i listen to cookie provider (what she thought of parents.) Most of these were not what I called the best teachers. Because they had tenure, they were not even reprimanded.
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        Oct 17 2013: if the "student" is just lacking in talent, it is frustrating, but not a big problem. the problem arises when someone rejects the truth, because it is inconvenient for them to think that he doesn't understand something. choosing, instead, a simplistic but soothing world view. this is upsetting. and the most upsetting to see is many such people coming together, and reinforcing each other's false views.

        the thing is, this behavior is so widespread, basically everyone does that. so as you educate yourself, you exile yourself from these circle-soothing societies one by one. it is a no win situation. how else to react to that than anger or depression?
        • W T 100+

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          Oct 17 2013: So you are angry? Or depressed? Or have you passed these two stages already?
          Were you ever part of the circle?
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          Oct 17 2013: "...the problem arises when someone rejects the truth"

          What is the truth exactly?

          Geniuses are geniuses because they challenge "the truth".
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          Oct 17 2013: I think what distinguish us most regarding teaching, as well as on other topics, is, that you believe in the concept of truth and I don't.

          What is this 'truth' you are teaching? Where does it come from? Who came up with it? Who comes to define it? Science? Religion? Economics?

          At my time science told me about 9 planets in my solar system, now there is one missing. Where did it go?

          The exile you describe by truth is nothing but choice to me.

          And I choose too. We all do. As well as most of us trust in our choices, as otherwise there was little to non orientation in this world.

          The reason why I chose evolution over creationism is, that it makes more sense to me in the way I perceive the world around me. And for the same reason I didn't choose for any religion.

          Do I have the truth? In fact, I don't know, just the evidence I choose for makes it more plausible to me than what I didn't choose for.

          When I hear you saying, that it upsets you 'to see is many such people coming together, and reinforcing each other's false views', it reminds me on religion.

          If this is your mindset in teaching, you don't teach, you missionize!

          My physics professor at the opening lesson at the University got it right, in saying, that all he was about to tell us in the upcoming semesters we should never take for granted under no circumstances.

          That is what teaching is about, to enable other people to make up their own minds on anything so that they can decide for themselves.

          Teaching isn't forging someones mind in 'true' and 'false' categories. Teaching is about enabling to make those choices by own reasons and reasoning.

          This neither spares nor soften any form of anger or depression which may arise from that, yet nobody said that the struggle for wisdom is going to be easy, at least it didn't come with my instruction kit for planet earth ... :o)
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        Oct 17 2013: i alternate between the two.

        everyone is part of many of these circles, unknowingly. you can leave them with learning.
        • W T 100+

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          Oct 17 2013: I can see where you, or anybody, for that matter might alternate between the two.

          Learning truths, after you have spent decades following and believing falsehoods is not easy.

          And then trying to teach someone what new knowledge you have learned and being faced with rejection is hard to deal with.

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