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The power of knowledge and wisdom

1 1 The River Tame

When we’re young, we go to school and try to acquire knowledge. We learn about reading, writing and arithmetic. These basic tools then equip us to learn about more complicated things. The arithmetic allows us to go on to learn mathematics, the reading equips us for the world of literature and the writing allows us to express ourselves with pen and paper.

We don’t know how we will use all this knowledge when we are still at school. Sometimes, we think we’re learning things that we will never use. What is the use of history? That is the past, we live in the present and we will live in the future. We do learn from the past and so history can be quite useful. Take the history of the river in today’s picture. It drove watermills that provided the energy for forges before there was steam power. This minor river powered the industrial revolution. You might think it was the steam engine, but without the power of the river, the steam engine would never have been built. Without the water from this river many canals wouldn’t have been possible.

What use is art? This is a question many people ask. In the distant past it helped people see what other places looked like, then it helped them recognise other people. It served the same purpose as photography does today. It then evolved into a way people could express themselves, it became a mode of communication. People could communicate emotion through images. The Scream (1910) by Edvard Munch might appear to be like a child’s painting with it simplicity and basic colours. It conveyed an emotion and that struck a chord with the people who saw it. It became symbolic of our reaction to fear, of terror. Does art today still serve a purpose? People appreciate the images that Banksy produces and so it does serve a purpose. It can however become a ‘fashion’ with no real purpose or appreciation. It can be bought just because it’s popular and adds kudos to a gallery. People will go to see a sheep pickled in formaldehyde or suit cases hanging from a ceiling, but is it art? There is a difference between appreciating art and being one of the loyal followers who cheer at the Emperor’s new clothes until an observer with the wisdom of a child shows them the truth.

Knowledge is powerful, it helps us understand. Wisdom is about using that knowledge and seeking the truth. Wisdom is harder to acquire. As we get older, we learn from experiences and acquire wisdom by using much of the knowledge that education gave us.

What do you think? Are you getting wiser with age? Do you think education and knowledge is important? Please share your thoughts in the comments box. You can also follow me on Twitter.

2 Responses

  1. Using knowledge, experience and common sense may help to get opportunities. It also helps to show up at right place at right time.

    Fancy institutes ask for insane amount of money for diplomas which may be useless for all we know. I recently read in local newspaper, a fellow magazine writer went to NYC to get a diploma for a 6 months course in magazine writing – he already was what he wanted to be and he did the course so that he has fun and get a competitive advantage. Not everyone can afford a course and do just for the sake of it. On the job training and learning is the best form of getting knowledge.

    Knowledge is important, but it is quite debatable with what kind of education institutes now a days are providing.

    May 15, 2014 at 13:32

    • Hi Fairy,

      That’s true, there are a lot of scams around. One of the students I’m helping was considering a unpaid internship. It would cost for thousands and no guarantee of a job. They claim it gives graduates ‘experience’. The government here wants a market free for all, but I think they should regulate commerce and not turn a blind eye to what is effectively fraud. My local university is quite good for international students, but they are too interested in the money!

      May 16, 2014 at 09:52

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