The Art and Wonder of ‘Don’t Know’

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While handing over my assignment to my professor, where we were required to choose and frame our own question and write an essay on it, I asked if he could tell me that the question is good enough and he replied instantly “the question is not that the question is good enough let’s see whether answer is good enough”. I smiled and walked towards MBA office to submit the papers pondering that is it not that with intelligent question that you have more chances to expect intelligent answers?

The professor was very interesting in his eccentric philosophical absentness, unorganized but fueling with thoughtful words. I could always catch the sparks he deliberately threw .Most reassuring were his words “I am really looking forward to reading the answer of the well framed question.”

During his classes two things really warranted some original deliberation. One was the when and where ‘don’t know ‘makes sense. When horizons become broader and wider and any prediction is only speculation then don’t know become corollary of” it depends” . In that way it’s the  most sensible thing.Because assuming exactness of conditions could  become catastrophic. Or we can say don’t know means many answers rather than one solution .And it happens when you try to figure out future or highly turbulent time i.e. when rate of change if faster than one can establish.

While explaining the psychometric test he instructed to be cautious of saying don’t know because  it reflected stupidity and inability to search for specific solution with confidence .To elucidate, if someone asks ‘what would happen if sky falls on this earth? The answer is very simple ‘they will become one. Either  the sky will become earth or the earth will become sky.”What if zero vanishes from mathematics? “It’s only way socialism can truly function in this world”

Paradoxically don’t know can also produce most brilliant answers .The teacher kept asking a student a  series of questions and  the student continued replying don’t know until the teacher got really irritated and shouted at the pupil ‘what do you know then ? The student replied I know that I don’t know and knowing my ignorance is knowledge ‘. You are aware of your knowledge and I am aware of my ignorance .And if you go regressively you might end with Descartes dictum ‘I think therefore I am’.

Definitely knowing ignorance is first step to knowledge if not knowledge per se.

Other element that gets attached to don’t know is honesty and guts to accept ones unawareness.

One more wonderful question that amazed my professor was ‘how on earth did we develop languages?” We still need to uncover this mystery and I know the study of intricate process would take time . It reminds me of  a story when a caterpillar who was the best dancer in the forest was tricked by his rival who asked him to unfold his dancing formula. And the caterpillar kept thinking how did he dance did he start with 11 th right leg up ot32nd left leg down or 15th leg or 64th leg and he kept thinking and ended up being no longer a dancer . Every time he began dancing he started monitoring and counting and thus failed .Creativity is difficult thing to document and generally leads to its loss.  However, more serious challenge for humans is to have our tongue under control.

How to do this?

Don’t know

Position: Educationist

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