A Perspective on Ignorance

As a teacher and an educator, I want to educate against ignorance.  I get a picture of this super hero teacher that is fighting the crime of ignorance.  I tend to think that a good teacher is one that can fight ignorance.  I tend to think that a good teacher is one that challenge someone’s mind to rid them of their ignorance.

Have you seen it though?  People – stuck in their ignorance.  It’s like you can’t change their mind – and the question that I was pondering is – does that mean that I’m not a good teacher?  Does that mean that I haven’t educated because ignorance still remains.

Some people need their ignorance.  Some find safety and security in their ignorance.  Some don’t want to leave it.  They want to be ignorant, and you can’t change that.

I think one of the skills of a good teacher is the ability to shed light on ignorance, but it takes a great teacher to allow the person to live in their ignorance.  A great teacher will not think that they are a bad teacher if ignorance remains.  A great teacher will allow them to live in their ignorance.

At the end of the day, it is their choice to remain ignorant.

But as teachers – so much of identity as such is wrapped around fighting ignorance.  It is our super hero power.

Your responsibility is to teach.  You do not have the responsibility for making decisions for them – even if they are kids.  But you can be amazing.  You can be such an amazing influence on your students that they do listen to you.  Be that.  Be amazing.  Unless of course you are ignorant about how amazing you are.

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3 Comments

  1. Good post.
    One of the meanings of “ignorance” is a lack of awareness of an established fact; a state of being uninformed.
    A Teacher’s main duty is to educate, which necesitates knowledge transfer, so every day you are reducing the level of ignorance in your students.
    If the ignorance lies in the areas of social behaviour, where the behaviour has been programmed by observation of parental, familial and peer actions, then our job is lot more difficult, but even then, simply telling a student that such behaviour is not acceptable, and explaining why may alter that area of ignorance.

    Of course, one type of ignorance is not really ignorance at all. It is not a lack of awareness or knowledge, it is a refusal to accept such information, as being contrary to some internal strongly held belief.
    We can also call this bias, or prejudice, or racism, or bigotry.
    Trying to change this needs more thn superhero power.
    I would recommend a big stick, possibly a 2 by 4, judiciously applied to the rear of the bigot.

    1. Doug , Great insight. You have more experience in this than I so I lean on you. Do you let people sit in their ignorance? Some can’t be taught or given more information. I realize that I want to use super powers to change them, and I have to learn how to let them sit in their ignorance. I think that I try so hard to be rational and cognitive. There are many more intelligences than that. Let’s face it, the other side of this coin is that we’re exposing ignorance, and no one wants to be told that. Love the insight my friend.

  2. Thanks Lem,
    keep trying. The kids will pick up on your own opinions quite quickly, by body language, voice tone etc. Sometimes a comment from a pupil might spark off a (controlled) classroom discussion, then you (and other students) can try to explain logical inconsistencies in their attitudes/prejudices. Try and keep it good humoured, don’t get too serious.
    Yes, you want them to be rational and cognitive, but if they feel threatened, they may close up and refuse to discuss and think.
    As I teach Computing, where everything works according to rules of logic, it is a persuasive atmosphere in which to work.
    Unless the bloody computers decide to do their own thing.
    Sometimes the Great Programmer in the Sky plays little jokes, and even though we teach the students that a computer will always do the same thing the same way, it doesn’t.
    I always fall back on Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.

    Have fun.
    If you’re not having fun, somethings wrong.

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