Monday, September 22, 2008

Against knowingness

Mark Edmundson, in the 2008 College Issue of the New York Times Magazine:

Good teachers know that now, in what's called the civilized world, the great enemy of knowledge isn't ignorance, though ignorance will do in a pinch. The great enemy of knowledge is knowingness. It's the feeling encouraged by TV and movies and the Internet that you’re on top of things and in charge. You're hip and always know what's up. Cool — James Dean-style cool — was once the sign of the rebel. But the tables have turned: conformity and cool have merged. The cool character now is the knowing one; even when he's unconventional, he's never surprising — and most of all, he's never surprised. Good teachers, by contrast, are constantly fighting against knowingness by asking questions, creating difficulties, raising perplexities.
Read it all: Geek Lessons (New York Times Magazine)

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comments: 4

thalkowski said...

"In the end, the learners will inherit the earth, and the knowers will find themselves beautifully equipped for a world that no longer exists."
- Eric Hoffer, social philosopher and Longshoreman.

Michael Leddy said...

I'm going to try that one on my students. Thanks, Timothy.

Anonymous said...

"The greatest menace to progress is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge." —Daniel Boorstin

Michael Leddy said...

Aha — so Edmundson is paraphrasing Boorstin.