Why You Don’t Know Anything in School

While in school an individual is supposed to end up “knowing” things that they have “learned.” The problem is that “learning” anymore means getting told what you have read as a student, getting ideas explained to you and then you get tested on your memory of what you were told.

Sure, sometimes, I repeat, sometimes, a student is asked to apply this material of theirs in a test or activity, but stop and think about it for a moment.  In any of these “applications” has there ever been something fundamentally new involved in the application situation?  Has there actually been a need to take that knowledge, reinterpret it and reforge it to be useful in a place that was not already covered in the class you were told this information before?  I know that for me this sort of application is incredibly rare and has maybe happened in three classes.  Instead your “application” of your “knowledge” is just putting the knowledge into a situation nearly identical to the way in which it was used when you were told.

In my opinion, that is not knowing anything.  Knowing something requires that a person is able to take the very fundamental ideas of something freely, bend it, forge it and tweak it where it you can possibly find that knowledge useful.  Knowledge of something could be considered like a set of lenses, each thing you know adds a different “lens” to anything you end up dealing with in your life.  You can then take these lenses off or combine in them in unique ways to look at one particular object, situation or whatever it is you happen to be examining.  Basically you must be able to use something, to be able to build/create new concepts/ideas/things/etc. in order to know a thing.

This isn’t a simple task, nor is it possible in a lecture.  In order to truly know something one must figure it out alone. Yes being in groups can be useful in some ways and help you, but a group is never going to help an individual know something, knowing requires a certain twisting of the mind that will never be accomplished by a group, but you can sleep on it.  Then after having come to understand something that same person must be able to use it to claim their knowledge.  The only way to really use something is through that understanding that you gain. Thus, getting lectured at about things you’re supposed to know is useless.

Having your hand held through a thought process, text, project, paper, whatever does not help you know anything besides how to parrot. The point of any class should be to make you focus on certain things which nearly everyone should have access to in order to build their own thoughts.  The second point of any class is to sharpen your skills, tell a student they are wrong and where, point out the failures making you defend your arguments and pushing you to continually push your creative abilities to build anew, reinterpret or simply throw out concepts/ideas/solutions/etc.  Essentially you should be pushed to through all of human thought and then to the very edge of human knowledge to add to it. Students have to begin with rational thought and build upon their own rational thoughts all the way through the entirety of civilization’s historic thought process thus helping the student understand themselves and the world in which they live.  Then adding to it.

A student should be asked if they can defend an argument well.  Other writings are only places for those students to gain new tools to help explain and defend their own thoughts, in order to defend one’s very own existence to themselves and others.

Some classes may do this, but not nearly enough in my opinion.


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