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How To Value Wisdom Over Knowledge In Your Classroom


How To Value Wisdom Over Knowledge In Your Classroom

by Terry Heick

A Definition For Wisdom

This is a tough one with lots of angles, but I’ll start with this ‘definition’ for wisdom: Wisdom is knowing what’s worth understanding. understanding the value of ideas, and always placing knowing in the context of not knowing– seeing the limits of knowledge and our own understanding.

Classrooms are–perhaps increasingly?–seen as academic places of data, points, and performance. As learning spaces and places, they are as characterized by numbers, levels, and alphanumeric characters as they are curiosity, dreams, innovation, or authentic understanding. In short, it just might be that we’ve put the processes, policies, and procedures before the human beings. And that includes both teachers (as anonymous managers of “learning cycles”) and students (as the evidence for our collective failures or success).

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With that in mind, we’ve developed four characteristics of a “human” classroom–your classroom, hopefully–and created statements of affirmation for each of the four: Wisdom, Inclusion, Community, And Innovation. This is part one in our four-part “How To Change Your Classroom” series, one that will help you and your students take a look at your classroom as a “whole thing”–one first and foremost human, in dogged pursuit of understanding, and fully aware of themselves and how they relate to the world around them.

In part 2, we’ll take a look at the idea of “inclusion”–academically, culturally, and socially.

How To Value Wisdom Over Knowledge In Your Classroom

If you’d like to make this kind of shift in your classroom, here are some statements of affirmation.

  1. We value our questions over our answers.
  2. We see how our perspective impacts everything–“reality,” for example.
  3. We instinctively compare what we believe we know with what there is still to learn.
  4. We see the relationships between ourselves and those around us as complex, important, and constantly changing.
  5. We (try to) grasp the significance of what we learn.
  6. We know that our own understanding begins with knowing what’s worth understanding.
  7. We seek to find the bias first in our thinking, then in others.
  8. We value our time and our place.
  9. We accept uncertainty.
  10. We minimize the separation between what we know and how we live.

The Defiinition of Wisdom; How To Value Wisdom Over Knowledge In Your Classroom; image attribution flickr user national-assembly-for-wales