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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: Mary,

    I have to disagree with the article. Knowledge is always good but it must start with the knowledge of what you do not know. When you have knowledge and passion, you are willing to explain things in different ways and learn more ways to explain this.

    I have seen some teachers who know only 1 way and are scared to be shown up by students. They tend to have a lesson plan and stick to it to the letter without taking into account the difference in students. In fact that is what is fun in teaching, 1 method will work with one student while you have to use another to reach a different student.
    • W T 100+

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      Oct 16 2013: I think that you bring out an excellent point Wayne.

      There are different types of learning styles. So a teacher who is truly passionate about her professional pedagogy will be very knowledgeable as to this, and be very efficient as a teacher, seeing that every child is capable of learning.

      HOWEVER............once you get into higher education, then you run into professors with a huge knowledge base, but little patience for dumbing down the information.

      So what to do???

      I think this is what the article is expressing......that knowledge may be a curse to these types of individuals.

      I'll ask you the same question I've asked others Wayne, what other professions do you think this happens in? And, have you had any personal experiences with people like this?
      • Oct 17 2013: Mary,

        Think University is a different model - students choose to go to University and choose the course and professors - The burden of control of each student's education has switched from the Administration to the student. Most professors, especially non-tenured, must publish and do research - that is their primary goal, to get tenure. Most would like to spend more time with students and teach - they just do not have the time and it is up to the student to find the right sources, ta's, other professors, other students, the web, books. If a student expects to be spoon fed (had a student ask for me to go over the entire course 2 weeks before the final exam and they had never done homework or appeared in class - no other questions) those that are not great teachers usually are not great researchers - there are exceptions.

        I have seen this (never in the best people) in engineering and programming where people can not explain why they designed something that way. In good organizations, there are design reviews and they are questioned by their peers and answers are demanded. If the answers are not forth coming, the design is not allowed to go forward and the designer's reputation is damaged in the organization.
        • W T 100+

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          Oct 17 2013: You have just educated me in regards to design reviews.

          Thank you Wayne for your contributions. I appreciate your input.

          So perhaps then, learning to communicate your thoughts and knowledge effectively may be considered an important piece of the puzzle.

          I think that speech, the standing in front of others and explaining things, and sharing narratives on diverse subjects would be very beneficial to students in the lower grades. What do you think of this idea?
      • Oct 18 2013: I agree - I think having students, present, debate, even teach a class (one class)would be great. On the lower grades, below 6 - it would have to be tailored - It is not my area of expertise but grade 6 and above it can be done and was part of my schooling.

        The college I went to required a public speaking class or be on a debate or drama team in your freshman year. Thought it was a great idea. Still do.
        • W T 100+

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          Oct 20 2013: There are plenty of opportunity in the lower grades to teach oratorical skills to the little ones. There are science fair projects, where an oral presentation is required. There are oratorical competitions. There are show and tell sessions in class.

          It is up to the teacher to involve students in as much speaking as possible. Some teachers though, do not enjoy these activities. So some students miss out on cultivating and perfecting their skills.

          In college I also took part of speech class. It was a requirement. Great class......and lots of different speeches, each with it's purpose. I still remember the talks I gave......and that was a looooong time ago.
      • Oct 20 2013: Great - I would say that earlier the better. You have no idea how many engineers/programmers, even phd level, I have sent to a presentation class and speaking class.

        I also remember my final which was making an extemporaneous speech.
        • W T 100+

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          Oct 20 2013: I am very surprised to hear that you would need to send phd level professionals to speaking classes........well sort of surprised...........

          I love extemporaneous speeches.........it's what we do here on TED all the time isn't it?
      • Oct 20 2013: So was I at 1st - been working to understand why.

        and yes it should be what we do on TED

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