Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Learner profile: Knowledgeable

Hmm...Is it okay for any one to say, " I am knowledgeable."?

During my college days I had come across a book called The dialogues of Plato. In it Plato refers to Socrates who had said, " The only thing I know is that I don't know."
I have never forgotten the sentence.

I am now reading The Tao of Pooh. It's such an easy read and yet so powerful.

"Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully.

"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever."

"And he has Brain."

"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."

There was a long silence.

"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything."
In other words, your knowledge can come in the way of your understanding of something!

And another favourite quote:

"But isn't the knowledge that comes from experience more valuable than the knowledge that doesn't? It seems fairly obvious to some of us that a lot of scholars need to go outside and sniff around - walk through the grass, talk to the animals. That sort of thing."

Recently in school, we had a PD, a PYP refresher course. We started off with a fun activity. We had to say our name, followed by the grade we taught and then the Learner Profile or Attitude we thought we best represented. This was to be accompanied by rhythmic claps.  I was a little tickled I must say, when I heard some people say they were "Knowledgeable."

Who can really say that?! Doesn't knowledge come from individual experience? ...Subjective?  Isn't it relative to everything else?A fraction of what we don't know? The tip of the iceberg?!

Benjamin Hoff, the author of The Tao of Pooh refers to certain types of knowledgeable people...those who acquire it to be clever; to appear wise, and to complain. As I read the passage I find myself becoming less and less intimidated by the intellectuals around me :)

So are we teaching our students to claim that they are knowledgeable?

This post is not a denial of the power of knowledge! Knowledge helps us have a converstaion with people; become experts in a certain field etc but while talking to people whom we feel are 'simple', they should not become the intellectual snob and look down upon others. Aren't most of us guilty of this?

 Our students should grow up knowing that being wise does not necessarily mean being learned; and that being learned does not necessarily mean being wise. Let's stick to being open-minded, and knowledge will follow suit.

Signing off

Ms Owl


  1. I met knowledgeable and brilliant people and never felt intimidated by any of them - on the contrary, I seek their companionship. The thirst for knowledge is something to admire as it emerges from curiosity and, as Maya Angelou once said, "by knowing more every day I feel a little more at home in this universe".
    On the other hand, I honestly doubt that true intellectuals become knowledgeable "to appear wise or clever", let alone look down on others.
    Also, knowledge is so vast that is practically impossible to gain it via direct experience...That does not diminish the power of knowledge acquired indirectly...by reading a poem, admiring art, or learning about neuroscience.
    Thirdly...we do not teach our students to "claim" that they are knowledgeable - they truly are and will be. Kids learn every single day -formally and informally - and we should celebrate that.
    You create dichotomies in areas that they do not exist and attach negative emotional values to a very beautiful endeavor of every human being - the journey of knowing and learning.

  2. Yes Christine....true intellectuals are the people I admire most and I absolutely agree with you in this case. I too, thrive on having a stimulating conversation where i can learn from others. However, blogspost are as you know based on personal experiences, and I talk from I what see around me.I speak of pseudo intellectuals who use knowledge as power and this post is simply a caveat. When I quoted Socrates,implicit is the thought that we should always be in pursuit of knowledge.I would like my students to certainly pursue it, but with an open mind...knowing and accepting that they can be wrong, arguing without fear of being wrong...this is the bottom line of the post.You may do it, but many adults are still afraid of being wrong or caught on the wronmg foot.

    I disagree with you when you say I am creating dischotomies...Man does misuse knowledge and to focus only on the positives and deny the complexities surrounding it, to my mind is naive.


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