Knowledge is Power: The Supposed Weapon for Battling Stupidity

Posted: 30 September 2010 in Thoughts
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So I read a blog today on things that should be taught in schools and it got me thinking. Here I am in Thailand working at an orphanage where we try and teach English as well as keep play with the kids. You never realise how difficult it is teaching when you have a total language barrier between you and the students. Not to mention that they are in their early teens (12-13) so more learning is not what they really want to be doing at night. It also makes me take a serious look at teaching and learning and why I want to do it. I should mention that I want to teach High School. I know that sounds crazy but they should be at that point where they can be refined and directed as they are almost done. At least that’s what I’d like to think 😛

My other thoughts were on learning in general. Now I’m just finishing my Master’s in English Literary Research focusing on Medieval Literature. Being a Medievalist is cool but I have noticed something about most people who study English. It is that their everyday lives become so absorbed into their fields that their seems to be little room for anything else. For instance a few months ago I helped out at a conference at my University. It was a perfect opportunity to practice networking, which is what I tried. It is just natural for me to talk to people on a wide range of topics and those people who I connect with best do the same thing or can talk normally on more than just one subject. I met one person over the three days of the conference that I was able to have a conversation with on more than just what material we are working on and it’s importance to the literary world. Not that it was a bad thing because that was why we were even there for, but three days and all you talk about with people is what your next paper, book or project is on, things can get pretty monotonous.

Herein is where the problem with knowledge lies. The phrase “Knowledge is Power” is quite a profound statement but is only provides power in one area. I am very proficient in talking about the manuscript Hunter 409 and it’s supposed authorship by Chaucer and the arguments established by scholars over the last century or so. But while I will sound really smart in that one area, how does it help me keep up an intellectual conversation or even a normally stimulating conversation outside of the intellectual world? It doesn’t. It’s like being given an epee which is great in a fencing ring but utter useless in a duel. But then if you completely immerse yourself in your field and never reemerge into the real world, it would serve you just fine. But that is never the case.

Then we are confronted with the disturbing student who has devoted however many years to acquiring a degree only to graduate with the mere knowledge of how to throw a successful kegger. What has this student done with the wasted years of learning and how were they able to pass their classes? Of course some of them are hidden geniuses who have yet to discover and utilise their buried brains. The rest have survived on luck, cheating and even the basest of ideas, sleeping with T.A.’s and even professors. What was even the point then. Yeah it is important to have a degree but it drives me nuts to work so hard for my degree to see people live so precariously and still somehow succeed. Even worse they appear to be getting dumber. Oh how I hate stupid people!!!

So, in regards to the age old saying, “Knowledge is Power”, it is time for a revamp. Knowledge is but the ore, be it gold, silver, platinum, copper, steel, etc, with which we create the power. There is no power in knowledge if it is gained and never used. Just like a jagged lump of ore, it must be tempered and beat until it is turned into something useful. AND THEN USED. If not then it is merely ornamental, sitting on your mantle rusting gathering dust. Correct me if I am wrong.

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