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I Told You Everything I Know…

…And you still don’t know nuthin’! My mother regularly told me this growing up (actually she still reminds me often). In short, she would give me the benefit of her wisdom and too often, I would not accept it. With many more years and arguably more maturity, I realize my reluctance to accept wisdom from parents or any authority figure is a broad and timeless problem. Regardless of education and professional accolades, many critical lessons require experience! While experience happens in multiple ways, learning from it features a three step process.

Step 1
Regardless of age, initial experiences are absorbed in a child-like fashion. For children, curiosity dominates the learning process. Kids want to touch, taste, see everything. So much stimuli, so little time! Unfortunately, mastery of new knowledge demands work and repetition. When attention spans wane, or the learning curve becomes too steep, other interests and curiosities take over. Sometimes an authority figure intercedes and removes the burden of mastery. But, that is not learning; that’s mommy doing your homework. The child has in fact avoided the pain of learning. Until the learner accepts the pain and discipline of mastering, they basically “still don’t know nuthin’”!

Step 2
The next step involves accepting the initial challenge to endure some discomfort while acquiring new skills and knowledge. Resembling adolescence, or young adulthood, the learner acquires enough knowledge to discern between high and low accomplishment. However, knowing the difference between good and better, does not mean that they know the difference between better and best. At this point, the learner is blind to the truth that “if you are the smartest person in the room, then you need another room.” Instead, the learner’s perceived superiority leads them to challenge authority figures and proclaim dominance. Unfortunately, this approach comes without wisdom. Basically, wisdom only comes from experience. To get through this level of learning, judgment must match intelligence. The alternative is infantile displays of knowledge, and oblivion to the consequences.

Step 3
After acquiring curiosity, knowledge, and judgment, then learners should be prepared to display their experience. Although the logic is sound, the premise is flawed. Experience is the culmination of learning skills and exercising judgment, but it is not static. Experience is always evolving, stretching. Too many learners underestimate the size of the body of knowledge and experiences. The more you know, the greater the body of knowledge that remains unknown. The more answers you acquire, the more questions that surface. So, mama saying “you don’t know nuthin’” is a slight misnomer. More accurately she should say, “you still have a lot to know, and I still have not told you everything that I know.” Essentially, lifelong learning means asking better questions from the perspective of curiosity, knowledge and experience. Experience merely helps us understand how much more we still need to understand.

“I told you everything I know, and you still don’t know nuthin’!” The English is imperfect, but the wisdom is flawless. Educators and administrators often aspire for students to pursue lifelong learning. It is easy to offer, but hard to enforce. Wisdom is acquired, it is not learned. It is experienced, not regurgitated. The beauty and pain of experience is that each answer yields additional questions. The deeper you submerge in the ocean of wisdom, the deeper you realize that the ocean truly is. Eventually judgment provides the only possibility of resolution. Experience life. It’s the only chance of knowing anything.

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter & Beyond

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August 6, 2015 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Person | , , , , | 1 Comment