Friday, November 6, 2015

The More I Learn, the Less I Know

It's no secret that I love YouTube. Not just because I don't have a cable subscription, but because of how it has changed the way people think about learning. Want to know something new? Watch a lesson. Easy, fast, and it's free for users, while at the same time, content creators can earn money (what a great business model!)

One of the channels I love is Vsauce. Loads of great content, and I always feel smarter after I watch. Or do I feel dumber? This video is certainly worth watching in full, and I've embedded it at the bottom, but a couple of things stick out to me.

The less someone knows, the more they'll think they know.


First was the story about McArthur Wheeler. I haven't verified it, but it raises an interesting concept: the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Basically, the less an individual knows, the higher they tend to estimate their understanding. And I think that lends insight into my own experience.

The opposite is also true.

I'm good at learning. There, I said it. I love learning about things. I'm curious, and I follow that curiosity wherever it tends to lead (which is probably why I watch things like this video), and I think about what I'm learning. I enjoy it. There's a certain joy in finding things out. I freely admit that I'm really good at learning.Some of my friends tell me I'm really smart, but this makes me uncomfortable. I don't feel like I'm any smarter than anyone else - I just like to learn things, and I don't equate the two. The Dunning-Kruger effect may help explain how I feel.

Every time I learn something new, it leads to new questions, new potential avenues for learning, and new opportunities to explore. I'll never be able to follow all of them, and I lament those I miss as much as I pursue those that interest me.
There's a great summary near the end of the video. It goes a little like this:
"When it comes to understanding our world, knowing why is obsolesced by asking why. Knowing facts makes you 'bright,' but the equally quick - sometimes quicker - and most rewarding prize, is the dark. In admitting that you don't know everything, but that you'd like to know some of it."
This is why I'm an educator. Because I don't want my students to know facts. I want to make them hungry to know a little more.