Learning Wisdom

I keep wondering where is the wisdom…

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years trying to discover how we learn wisdom. I see a continuum that goes like this:




Data is raw stats that over time becomes a fact. That fact is tested (or should be) and turns into more useful information. That information in turn is used by a number of people and becomes knowledge. Knowledge that can be shared by anyone anywhere. Time tests the knowledge as it is used to produce know-how. All the usual suspects are included in the process – content, context, communication, collaboration, connection. That know-how is then tested over a longer period of time by lots of people and becomes wisdom.

So wisdom is borne by many and stands the test of time. The flame is hot do not touch. A penny saved is a penny earned. Time heals all wounds. The statements of wisdom abound. Yet they all seem old and tired. Where is the new wisdom? 

It matters to me because we seem to have stopped learning at know-how. Here’s a quote that kicked-off this post:

“You’ve been thinking about intelligence the wrong way. Almost everyone assumes that intelligence is a genetically programmed trait like eye color—set from birth and unalterable. Yet the extensive body of research on human intelligence demonstrates that this assumption is false. Our best data show that IQ, the most common measure of intelligence, fluctuates within a person’s lifetime as well as from generation to generation. This is our conceptual starting point: IQ scores are changeable. With the right environment, intelligence levels can be increased intentionally. This possibility holds implications for you and for the world around you.”—Michael E. Martinez, Future Bright: A Transforming Vision of Human Intelligence

We apparently become smarter and stupider at the same time. There is wisdom in not killing one another yet we seem to stop at knowing-how to develop better weapons. There is wisdom in learning how to love one another on this insanely impossible human journey yet hate is on the curriculum in schools worldwide. We have been visited by great teachers – Abraham, Buddha,Deganawidah James the Baptist, Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, The Saptarshi, and many others – yet we seem to not only ignore the wisdom they taught, we often turn it upside down and use their teachings to support what (never who) we hate and want to kill or eradicate. 

The point is who cares how much we learn or even how we learn if wisdom is not one of the goals. Can elearning help teach wisdom? The Kahn Academy model? A flipped wisdom classroom? Wisdom games? 

Without wisdom we will destroy one another and the world that is Gaia to us. Learning needs to grow over time and become wisdom. We should be wise enough by now to have learned that we must stop wrecking the earth, work to disable countries from fighting civil wars, have religions teach tolerance instead of hate, pay attention to the growing divide between rich and poor, practice forgiveness and support the least among us and more. So much more. We have the hubris to call ourselves Homo Sapiens ” in Latin meaning Wise Man”.

Yet I keep wondering, after all this education and learning, where is the wisdom?

One comment

  1. career guide · July 12, 2013

    I think wisdom comes through experience. You have knowledge and information but how to use that is wisdom. I agree with the point that mere academic education does not spawn wisdom, but of course education is something which provides you with knowledge, concepts and information and so in the process of building wisdom can not be ignored.


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