Teach me, but only if it's easy...

May 14, 2020

Great importance is placed upon knowledge. It serves as the foundation for success. The social structure of nearly every country is that individuals must be educated in order to become a viable member of society. Knowledge itself is a huge industry. Think about budgets allocated to public school systems, revenues associated with universities, and all of the supporting industries (food, books, construction, technology, etc.).

Given the critical importance society has placed upon knowledge ,would it be safe to assume that every persons top priority is the acquisition of knowledge? Are there classifications of knowledge? If so, is there a hierarchy? Does knowledge guarantee success?

These are all great questions that would likely lead to interesting conversations coming from endless points of view. The one point that can be agreed upon is that everyone is different. Personal experiences are unique to each individual and shape who they are as a person and how they interact with their environment. This includes their relationship with knowledge.

There are countless scientific studies that assert the various methods of acquiring knowledge or learning. These include:

Visual — pictures, images, spatial references
Aural — sounds
Verbal — words, both written and spoken
Physical — active learning involving the body and its senses
Logical — reasoning and systems
Social — group learning
Solitary — learning alone

These learning styles are practiced either individually or in combination. Educational systems specialize primarily in the verbal style with the other methods gaining traction as educators become more enlightened and technical systems more dynamic.

This however leads to more question regarding how individuals learn once they have exited the traditional systems of education (i.e. K-12, college, graduate school). What is the primary source of that knowledge? How many people become resistant to knowledge? How much does ease of access impact demand for knowledge?

I believe a safe answer is that people are always seeking knowledge, whether they are aware of it or not. This includes the person who may stay at home all day sitting on the couch watching TV or the person that is homeless and searching for their next meal. Knowledge is a broad term that is the outcome of learning.

Learning is the process of acquiring information, either new or modifying existing.

Information is also a broad term. Learning what happens in a television series qualifies as information just as much as learning the Pythagorean theorem. The usefulness of these pieces of information can be challenged but that’s a different argument.

Information can be segmented in countless ways. Two dimensions that carry weight in society are ‘Employment Marketability’ and ‘Salary’. Employment Marketability speaks to how likely an individual will be able to find employment with knowledge they have learned. Salary speaks to the annual salary associated with the type of knowledge learned. These two dimensions serve the purpose of creating knowledge goals for people.

Throughout an individuals life many influences both internal and external help in determining what that person’s life goals will be. For some individuals these goals are more clear than others and sometimes timeframes for arriving at these conclusions vary widely. The point however is that people will weigh all of the information collected throughout their life, process that information, organize it, cross reference based on their own contextual understandings, and formulate a determination. The resulting outcome is their goal. This goal impacts that persons desire to acquire knowledge, the rate to learn ,and whether to learn passively or active.

Having a goal for knowledge also factors into the level of effort a person is willing to commit. The same factors used to arrive at their goal will determine the level of effort. It’s important to note that people will have many goals and each will have various weights in terms of importance. Those goals ranked higher will allow for more effort.

People are resistant to learning when the effort to acquire knowledge exceeds their internal ranking system. It is important not to question a person’s dedication to learn but rather to re-evaluate how the knowledge ranks internally for that person. A common outcome when teaching or observing a person learning is frustration. This is driven by misplaced perspective and importance. It is not fair to assume that the other person shares the same ranking for knowledge and therefore the level of effort to learn may be lower. Observing experiences with this context unlocks a new set of tools for adjusting how information is shared. More options are possible such as reducing the level of effort or changing the teaching style.

In summary humans are complex creatures influenced by an immeasurable number of factors. No two individuals are the same and each person should be given the respect to acquire knowledge based on their own systems. The only requirement for all humans is to always seek knowledge and to accept that knowledge equals more happiness through understanding.

Thanks for reading.

About the Author: My name is Ion King and I am the Chief Officer at SimDnA. My focus is on helping others passionate about growing careers in Data Science & Analytics achieve their goals. Connect with me on LinkedIn or find more of my articles on medium

Images: Photo by Joao Tzanno on Unsplash

This article is a reflection of my opinion with additional information gathered from the sources referenced below:



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