Educated (11): Truth in context

Another aspect of the limits of knowledge is the contingent nature of most of what we know: Truth is usually* truth-in-context. A pair of non-parallel lines will only ever cross once… on the infinite flat plane of Euclidian geometry.** Swans are only white… as far as Europeans knew before someone saw a black one in Australia. It’s safest to walk…

Educated (10): Limits to knowledge

An education should give us an awareness of the limits of knowledge. Most obviously: That there are things that we (humans) don’t understand; That some of those things we may never understand (or at least, in our lifetimes); That we (as individuals) can’t possibly know everything that is known; … and so what we do know is necessarily incomplete; ……

Educated (9): taxonomy and the fruits of knowledge

You’re probably familiar with the old saw “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.” This response to the smart alec’s observation that a tomato is not (botanically speaking) a vegetable points out that the distinction is meaningless in the kitchen.* Think a little harder and it gets…

Educated (7): you, life and other people

If you can raise your children to like and believe in themselves, and to be interested in life and other people, the rest is detail. Cousin-in-law Most of the important bits of “educated” are absorbed rather than taught. Schooling and opportunities help, but the slow drip of love and respect from people you love and respect is indispensable. Which leads…

Educated (6): none the wiser

Chaerephon, as you know, was very impetuous in all his doings, and he went to Delphi and boldly asked the oracle … to tell him whether there was anyone wiser than I was, and the Pythian prophetess answered that there was no man wiser. … When I heard the answer, I said to myself, What can the god mean? and…

Educated (4): shows and telling

This is the missing thought from Handwriting: There are plenty of things that appear to signify education (handwriting, certificates, vocabulary, waffley assertions, accent (sadly), name-dropping, [add yours here]) which might be correlated to education in one way or another but aren’t the same thing at all. These things can be used to put on a show of being educated, either…

Educated (1): handwriting

What does it mean to be educated? Seven years ago I was working by a railway line in Jakarta, writing down some notes from a conversation with someone who lived there. As I wrote, someone else leaned over my shoulder and had a look at my notes for a minute before nodding approvingly and saying: “He’s a high school graduate.”*…

Knotty problems

A good knot: Solves a problem Is easy to remember Is easy to tie Is easy to check Is strong (causes as little reduction in the strength of the rope as possible) Is secure (doesn’t come undone when you don’t want it to) Doesn’t jam (doesn’t become extremely difficult to untie after being put under strain) Is easy to undo…

Use it or lose it

In this time of change, what skills and processes are you and your team using more than you used to? What have you stopped doing? If any of the things you’ve stopped doing are going to be important when things go forward (not back) to (the new) normal, find ways to start doing them again. If it’s impossible to do…