Experience Before Wisdom: Educational Implications

I have heard it said, smart people learn from their experience, but wise people learn from the experience of others. If those two statements are true, how are they relevant to youth? Youth, in the difficult process of gaining experience, who must, in the meantime, suffer from lack of experience, seldom having the experience of the world to cope smartly in the world at large, are put in the care of their parents and municipal educators.

Their educators ask them, first, to become wise when they ask them in various assignments to consider the experiences of others, although experience is the precursor to wisdom!

The first task of educators, it would appear, is to lead the learners through a process of confronting their own experiences to glean the lessons to be found there.

The implications are clear to me. The best learning experiences are to be conducted from an inductive perspective. In history, start with the learner’s own history, before taking up the history of the world at large. There is embedded in each individual a personal history of experience, the immediate family and then the family tree, where it was planted, its soil, its prunings, its cuttings and grafts, its transplantings. That is a history of immediate experience, of looming relevance and consequence this natural history to the pupil.

Mathmatics? The inductive procedures begin with the experiences of the learner with numbers in the immediate world. Health? Nutrition? Literature? Language? Geography? Government? All subjects have ties to the learners experience in the greater society around them. All early education should be approached inductively, where the pupil is, now, and the immediate prospect.

Then, after the foundation is laid, let the subjects be extended to the experiences of others. Let the lives and works of others flow through them, and the only way is to make of them keen observers; through reflection on their own experience in comparison and contrast to others they become full, for living their own lives is not living life fully.

Life is not to be limited to one’s own life. As the learner ages, there is travel, reflection, and living the many lives seen and reflected on. Then they see the reflection of themselves in others. Then see the self as the self one wants to be, ought to be, could be, expected to be. Know thyself first.

That accomplished, we then have a society nearly free of one of the great problems we have today. Stereotyping, prejudgment (jumping prematurely to conclusions), prejudicial thinking and acting. Each can become an astute social critic, outfitted with the criteria with which a democratic society is to be judged, without prejudice. We then have a society ready for democratic problem solving through a greater care for social betterment, beyond the individual gains.

Society will have become wise, mature, reflective, prescient, proactive. Placed in the care of a responsible citizenry.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Your passion for this topic shines throughout this article. I appreciate your writing as your insight has made me think a lot about your views.

  2. nice post. thanks.


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