The aphorism, “only a fool thinks they know everything,” is quite personal for me. Growing up, I pretty much thought I was a know-it-all. It was my dad who constantly pulled me down from the clouds and grounded me. There were a lot of times when he would try to tell me new things, to which I would simply respond “I know.” One specific instance I remember is when my dad was telling me about the significance of the wheel or ‘chakra’ on the Indian flag. Even though all I knew was that there was a wheel on the flag and not what it represented, I chose to reply with a simple “Ya, I know.” This was definitely the turning point for me, wherein he sat me down and told me somewhat of a variation of the above aphorism-
Even the greatest people don’t know everything.
This was in the third grade, so I obviously didn’t take everything he said to heart because I didn’t understand what he was trying to get at. But over the years, as my critical thinking skills developed and I became more and more self-critical, I started to realize how it truly is impossible to know everything.
“The only true knowledge is knowing you know nothing.” – Socrates
Having majored in Elementary Education in college, I am extremely passionate and critical about global education systems. The way students learn and understand concepts at an early age has to be catered to them in a way that they feel excited to absorb more and more knowledge with every passing day. Instead of telling them that it is impossible to be a know-it-all, I would want them to know that there is always more out there to learn. If someone thinks they know everything, it cuts them off from gaining new knowledge and experiences. Educators and adult figures that younger children look up to should always emphasize how big the universe is and how there is always so much to learn, rather than the slightly more realist approach that suggests that we will never be able to know everything. It is also important to understand the latter interpretation, but it seems like something children will ultimately realize as their education progresses.
In the meantime, it is up to us to ensure young minds stay hungry for knowledge, and curious to explore the world around them.
drawing by pigwire