Will this be on the test?
February 28, 2012 8 Comments
I was reading an article the other day on one of my favourite science blogs and this phrase came up. The article was actually about how few scientists there seems to be in US politics compared to business people and lawyers, but it was this particular point that really struck home with me.
The point the author was trying to make is that people are interested in what they need to know to get the job done (which is great), but aren’t interested in learning anything beyond that, even if it’s interesting, informative and might actually be useful to their future jobs (which is bad).
This attitude I think, is a very rare but very good example of true close-mindedness. There are some people who are only interested in learning what they think they need to learn to get the job done, to pass the test or to get paid and nothing matters beyond that. There’s no desire to learn for the sake of learning. No thirst for knowledge.
Now I don’t want to get too high on my metaphorical horse and preach that everyone needs to be or should be an intellectual, but nevertheless this attitude depresses me. What is particularly depressing is that this is a learned attitude. All you need to do is look at a child to know this is true. The little buggers are constantly exploring, constantly learning new things to the point they get annoying with constantly asking ‘why?’ At what point did we train this beatifully inquisitive nature out of them?
Speaking of children, I can remember one such occasion back in high school where a young lady ask me “How did you get so smart?” (seriously embarrassing question by the way, but true). I thought for a brief moment before responding “I read”.
The look on her face was pure depression. It was as if to say “Oh, I have to work for it?” She very quickly changed the topic after that.
It’s not like I was telling her she needed to read newspapers and scientific papers. At that stage in my life those kinds of materials bored me to death. This conversation took place in the school library, in the fiction section! Reading any kind of literature is good. It opens you to other points of view and ways of thinking, even in fairy tales.
Honestly I’m not sure what point I’m trying to make here. I don’t know how bad this is or even whether I think it should be changed somehow. Or even if it can be changed. Only that it depresses me. There’s a kind of strange joy that many people take in being deliberately ignorant. The girl in the above story, I have no doubt she wasn’t interested in reading because it was uncool. And that’s the sad part. Firstly that it’s not cool to be smart, and secondly that being cool is more important to people.
-Ignorance is not bliss. Nor is it cool. Stay inquisitive.