Education is an admirable thing. But it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
This quote from Oscar Wilde’s “the Critic as Artist” can mean different things to different people… as well as delight or offend them. It is a serious snub at our traditional educational culture, but as most of Oscar’s witty remarks, it sheds real light on a contradiction we need to think more deeply about.
It does of course imply an important and recognizable fact, that much – though not necessarily all – of what we are taught is not worth knowing. That’s exactly something we instinctively know but have not been taught (even by Oscar Wilde). Sometimes it’s even important to learn how to forget what we’ve been taught, an essential aspect of maturing!
But what it really means is that the idea of “being taught” is fundamentally passive, not implicating and often done in a spirit of mere obedience. What we end up really knowing are things we go looking for ourselves, more often than not in a social setting. So, contrary to the orientation of a lot of traditional educational practices, it isn’t a purely individualistic endeavor. But “knowing”, as opposed to “retaining what was taught”, means integrating that knowledge into our experience and identity.
We at Skillscaper think that the business of learning can be turned around and directed at the processes of knowing rather than the rituals of teaching. We can also provide the tools that help us get there.