Knowledge

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What do I know?

The answer is: I don’t know.

I know that I know something.

How much I know, I do not know. Sometimes I feel like I know a lot, usually I feel like I know little. The more I learn the less I feel I know. Rather, I realise the sheer volume of what I do not know.

How much do you know?

My starting point is that you know what I know, understand what I understand. But, I quickly learn that your experience set, the books you have read, the teachers you have learnt from are not mine. I then feel I have a lot to learn from you, and by definition you probably have something to learn from me.

I know all this, yet I feel uncomfortable being a teacher. I know how little I know, so I feel hesitant to pass on incomplete and potentially inaccurate knowledge to you.

How much do we know?

Collective human knowledge continues to amaze me. I am in awe of the fact that we can build magnificent palaces, calculate the distance of the stars, photograph the depths of the ocean. Just visit a library to get a peek at the tip of the vast iceberg of knowledge we have created. The internet and mobile phones have democratised access to knowledge to such an extent that we are swimming information, more than we could ever dream of.

Yet sometimes I feel frustrated. We struggle to put this knowledge together well, to think beyond the short term. We implement without thinking about the results. We ignore age old wisdom when it challenges our immediate interests. We choose to listen to knowledge that supports us, and pretend we have not heard that which does not – which feels more true now in our post-truth, fake news political environment. The internet appears to have hastened this process by overwhelming us and allowing us to filter (in the worst cases filtering for us) not for quality and truth but for what is loudest and we are most likely to agree with.

Universal collective knowledge could be a beautiful thing. It could also be our downfall. Let’s work to make sure it is the former. How? I wish I knew.

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