Knowledge ≠ Wisdom

I mean, they aren’t synonymous. Symbiotic, perhaps, but not synonymous.

Billy Connolly from Wisdom Book

Billy Connolly from Wisdom Book

I got on a kick thinking about wisdom a month or two ago when I first saw Andrew Zuckerman’s Wisdom Book film clip. My colleagues and I have talked about this clip regarding the design and aesthetic of it, how we like the way it brings the attention where it is most pertinent and powerful, but not the actual topic of wisdom.

The question I was most recently entertaining was: How does wisdom relate to learning?

On the surface, I think most teachers will agree that one can have all the topic knowledge in the world and still not be a good or even decent teacher. You need topic/subject knowledge (this helps us know what questions to ask), as well as teaching knowledge, and the wisdom of how the knowledge can be applied for learning value.

Digging deeper, I ask myself, “What is the main point of the teacher?” For me, when I am working with a group – educators or kids – many of them expect me to teach them something. Seems straight forward, sure. But as a teacher, coach, or facilitator, I do not have this expectation. I can’t. It is too egotistical and impedes the process, like if it’s all about me, then self-directed learning just took a body blow to the uterus. Having that expectation puts all the pressure on the teacher, and it is an expectation that the teacher has little control over.

So what is an expectation that fits teaching better? For me, my number one expectation when working with a group is that they learn something while we are together. They can learn from someone in the group, from me, from themselves – I don’t really care. But they have to learn something, and they have to learn it while we are together. If I loosened the expectations a bit too far I might say, “They should be put in a position where they have the opportunity to learn something at some point based on the time we were together.” But I think that lets the teacher off too easy and creates scant accountability for my role as facilitator of learning.

What do you think? Does that work? What am I missing?


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