Literacy and wisdom…

I have already had the chance to know so many different people in this life, from various social and educational backgrounds. I have met the most brilliant minds and the warmest hearts, but I also met people whose essence I could not ‘smell’… The interesting thing, still not obvious to everyone, is that knowledge is not intrinsically a good thing!!!! In my experience, I’ve seen that literacy does not translate into people’s capacity to properly situate themselves in their lives and their worlds.

Last semester, it was painful to grade some papers. Because the topic demanded a reflection on difference, culture, diversity… I could easily read the human being behind their words… Some papers were absolutely right in terms of form, but I did not approve the moral standards popping up from every well-written paragraph… Should I evaluate them merely as good and bad students (given their analytical thinking skills and their capacity to elaborate their argument)? Should I ignore what their texts tell me about their empty hearts?

As teachers and ‘guides’ in the learning process, is it our responsibility to ‘correct’ them if there is no concrete case of disrespect or ethics violation going on? How much intervention would be appropriate? Being wordy and having read a thousand books alone never made a great human being… that is why I am asking myself: about this literature on critical pedagogy … is it more about the awakening of wisdom than the formation of intelligence? These two words means completely different things… at least in Portuguese. I associate the first with the ability to co-exist, patiently and respectfully…

I understand it inspires the exploration of this concealed relationship between knowledge and power, to help learners to understand the imprisoning potentiality of ignorance or ‘manipulated knowledge’, as well as the destabilizing power of critical thinking… But can we really influence (as teachers) the strength of this sparkle that makes some students so special as human beings?

I was amazed watching this little boy and his thoughts about life and the universe… Where do these insights come from?

One Response to “Literacy and wisdom…”

  • Kathy says:

    You pose a lot of good questions here, questions that make me think of a problem someone posed to me this week: What do you do if a student objects to material that you’re teaching on the basis of his or her moral, cultural, religious, etc., beliefs?

    The best I could come up with–and I don’t know how effective an answer it was–is that we need to figure out the basis of those objections before we can really even begin to figure out what to do with them…because the basis isn’t always either obvious or what we think it is.

    Love this video. All the “ologies” rolled into a very savvy little guy: ontology, epistemology, teleology, etc.

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