Saturday, August 20, 2011

Quotation Of The Day: David Brooks Edition

David Brooks profiles Philip Leakey and offers some thought provoking closing paragraphs that should apply to the classroom:
Philip guides you like an eager kid at his own personal science fair, pausing to scratch into the earth where Iron Age settlers once built a forge. He says that about one in seven of his experiments pans out, noting there is no such thing as a free education.

Some people center their lives around money or status or community or service to God, but this seems to be a learning-centered life, where little bits of practical knowledge are the daily currency, where the main vocation is to be preoccupied with some exciting little project or maybe a dozen.

Some people specialize, and certainly the modern economy encourages that. But there are still people, even if only out in the African wilderness, with a wandering curiosity, alighting on every interesting part of their environment.
The late Richard Holbrooke used to give the essential piece of advice for a question-driven life: Know something about something. Don’t just present your wonderful self to the world. Constantly amass knowledge and offer it around.
A few quick comments:  First, curiosity and failure are essential elements of success.  I just wish that institutions were more accepting of both.

Second, I'm certain that "learning-centered life" is incompatible with both status seeking and wealth seeking.  On the other hand, I believe that being "learning-centered" or "God-centered" or "community-centered" need not be mutually exclusive.

Finally, the Holbrooke quotation should hang in every classroom.  American education has spent far too much time pushing self esteem so that students can show their wonderful selves to the world.  Some in education even smirk at amassing knowledge because the interwebs know more than any individual.  Holbrooke's statement serves as reminder that amassing and sharing knowledge still necessary.

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