‘I learn something new every day.’ When I heard this statement recently, it stopped me dead in my tracks. It made me think in detail about information, knowledge and learning. Our society is bombarded with information daily, some of which hits us personally, while much just passes us by. We are overwhelmed with trying to keep track of our everyday lives as it is, how much more can we truly take on board? But do we have a responsibility to do more than just hit ‘like’ on a posting on facebook, or maybe even ‘share’ it?
As a teacher I am concerned with the concept of learning. How can I help students turn fascinating facts about the body and disease into knowledge that they can carry forward into a career as nurses? How do we convert information into knowledge, and even more, how do we then apply the knowledge? In the field of health promotion and disease prevention, learning is measured by an actual change in behavior. It is not enough to know that cigarette smoking can lead to deadly diseases, that obesity can lead to a host of life-threatening complications, or that stress damages your immune system. If that knowledge does not lead to a change in behavior, then it is empty knowledge, mere information.
This leads to the concept of the responsibility of knowledge. If we know that our unhealthy life-style choices can lead to ill-health, we have a responsibility to do something about it. If we know that ignoring the impact of wasteful living can lead to the deterioration of our environment and all of the long-term consequences, we have a responsibility to change some aspect of our living. If we have paid large sums of money to obtain an education, we have a responsibility to do something meaningful with the knowledge we have gained, not just be satisfied with the accomplishment.
Do we have to have lofty goals? Everyone does not have to become an activist, leading a worldwide fight to correct global injustices. It may be enough to contribute in a small way to a big cause. Signing a petition to highlight the plight of women and girls in India, where seven in ten women will be physically or sexually abused in their lifetime, may be one small step towards official action. By doing nothing we are silently condoning these atrocities.
Within your own life you have a responsibility to learn from your experiences, and see if there are changes you need to make. It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing things the same way, yet expecting different results. Whether it is child-rearing, the way we choose life partners or how we relate to our co-workers, there may be something you need to change to get different results.
The challenge this Friday morning to everyone (including myself) is to identify some piece of knowledge or learning you can apply to your life to bring about a positive change, whether it has a small impact or starts a revolution. If we are thinking human beings with abilities and skills, we have a responsibility to use those skills to improve our world, even if it just begins with a little ripple. Many thanks to those who are already living such changes, by applying their knowledge. Almost 2,000 years ago, the Greek philosopher Plotinus said “Knowledge, if it does not determine action, is dead to us.”
Have a wonderful Friday, family! I wish you luck in your quest to apply your knowledge, and if you learn something new today, decide how that new knowledge can change your world!
[…] FMM 01 11 13 “Information is not Knowledge” Albert Einstein. […]
Thank you for this advice. God-willing, I would look inward and see how the little knowledge I have would change the world around me for the better of all.
Have a great week ahead!