To Teach or Not to Teach?

December 24, 2019

To quote James, a scientist who debated flat earthers, “human beings can’t replicate the whole body of science every single generation. At some point, you have to trust what’s already been discovered and proven and move on to the next thing. Otherwise we’re not going to advance at all.” Indeed, it would be absurd to leave every child to discover all scientific knowledge by themselves. Rather, we should teach them what we already know. We build them a platform of knowledge from which to soar. Right? Well, this comes with some heavy implications. To “trust what’s already been discovered” requires the student to wear a blindfold while the teacher builds. The teacher’s blueprints, of course, coming from their teacher. Thus, a long chain of trust in those before us is seen. This unveils the fascinating possibility that humanity is a collective that tries to garner ever more knowledge about the universe. We take it as good to teach what we have learned to the future generations who might, hopefully, use that to advance; to learn more.  

 

This all sounds great, but comes at the cost of blind trust. There is something disturbing about the idea that all of your knowledge was instilled within you by others and that it could all be wrong. Not to mention that you may be unknowingly hindered by what is taught to you. It’s incredibly amusing that young children who, say, don’t care about things making too much sense will dream up insanely creative ideas. A little guy once told me that he threw a T-Rex all the way from Canada to Antartica. While applauding his strength, I couldn’t help but realize how creative he was. Could I not have thought of this because my thoughts have been constrained by norms? Furthermore, is it better for one to have completely free reign on one’s knowledge, or to be educated? Would our world be better if we didn’t teach our children that voting is a good way of making a decision? I don’t think so. Consider the theory of evolution. Those who survive pass on their genes to the next generation, who thus stands a better chance of survival. Humanity has made plenty of mistakes, and by telling the future generations about them, they will have guidance as to what they should and shouldn’t do. And you, what do you think? To teach or not to teach?

 

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