We learn when we ask.

“Often when one does not just accept something, the possibility of learning something significantly new emerges. And most great steps forward in development of mankind and society have taken place when someone did not accept a given truth or way of doing or understanding things.” – Knud Illeris, Danish scholar of education.

What a fantastic and simple idea: ask, learn, and innovate.

Here’s a few starter questions on my mind: What is the purpose of school? Why has the “back to school” section at Target not changed in 20 years with the exception of new cartoon characters on the notebooks? What does it mean to live?

I don’t think Illeris meant that one must always be a critic or contrarian. But in not accepting something we are compelled to learn. And who knows, maybe we’ll find out something we’re doing could be improved upon. Certainly, as Illeris mentions, this has been the modus operandi of the great reformers in history. But let’s not leave it up to great reformers. We are the reformers. And I believe to ask and learn is indeed a great task.

I hope to have the courage to ask sincerely, learn deeply, and innovate creatively.

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4 Responses to We learn when we ask.

  1. jamestobrien says:

    Good thoughts here, Ozzie. If I might add a little something to what you’ve said, it is also important to be open to the realization that, after further inquiry, we find what we were taught and have always believed, might still be true. But then, we have a better foundation for our old belief. As children we were incapable of understanding the foundation of the things our parents taught us. “But when I became a man, I put away childish things.” I’ve often that that those ‘childish things’ might simply be that we took things on parental authority alone. Your father and I studied under Dr. John Gerstner. He was fond of talking about “the theology of the first glance.” Too often we accept something or reject something too quickly, without sufficient study and reflection. Glad to see that you are pursuing truth at a deeper level, but always be open to the thought that the old might be better than the new!

    • Hey James,
      Thanks for this. Cool that you know my dad. Love that guy. I think you’re totally right. Who knows, maybe we’ll find out that the way something is done or a certain belief makes sense for the context. Either way, the whole process is an important learning experience. Apropos “childish things” and “the theology of the first glance” I’ll leave you with a fantastic John Dewey quote: “With respect to the development of powers devoted to coping with specific scientific and economic problems we may say the child should be growing in manhood. With respect to sympathetic curiosity, unbiased responsiveness, and openness of mind, we may say that the adult should be growing in the habit of childlikeness” (1916, Democracy and Education). Openness of mind necessarily must include openness to the possibility that “the old might be better than the new.”

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