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le_inferno's avatar

"We all love to instruct, though we can teach only what is not worth knowing." Agree or disagree?

Asked by le_inferno (6184points) June 14th, 2010

How do you feel about this quote? Do you think the most valuable lessons in life are learned through experience, or do you think they can be taught? Has anyone ever explicitly taught you something worth knowing?

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19 Answers

le_inferno's avatar

I have to say I disagree, because I feel I have been “taught” a great deal from Fluther users. Answers here have given me some new perspectives and insights. I learn every time I’m here. Cheesy but true.

Trillian's avatar

Jane Austen makes several insupportable quotes in her classic; Pride and Prejudice. This is one of them.

john65pennington's avatar

Absolutely. when i was first a rookie police officer, my car-riding training officer gave me some good advice. he stated, “forget whatever they taught you at the police academy and learn strictly from me”. i took him to heart for the first 30 days together in the same police car. after this, i began to realize that his experience was invaluable to me, but my police academy training was also important. i told myself that i would combine both my academic training and my experienced partner training and attempt to mold myself into a respected police officer.

bob_'s avatar

I disa-freaking-gree. I can teach you plenty of useful stuff.

le_inferno's avatar

@Trillian Lol, good eye!
Yeah, I notice that too. I do like this quote though from Charlotte:
“We can all begin freely—a slight preference is natural enough; but there are very few of us who have heart enough to be really in love without encouragement. In nine cases out of ten a woman had better show more affection than she feels. Bingley likes your sister undoubtedly; but he may never do more than like her, if she does not help him on.”
What do you think about that one? I think I only like it because I’m kind of living it.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t believe we have to experience something to learn it. It depends somewhat on the person I think. And, also on the particular lesson. I think I have been able to apply what I have been told or taught to help me avoid some pitfalls, but maybe it is true that if we have not experienced the pitfalls we don’t undertsand the emotion that goes with that particular experience. I hope that makes sense.

jazmina88's avatar

I disagree. I was a teacher who tried to teach goodness, and right now I have that dang naughty neighbor who needs to learn a thing or 2 about that herself….tapping foot impatiently.
It does sink in if you respect and listen…..
if you want to learn, you can “get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if you look at it right”

MissA's avatar

I disagree. I’ll add that we teach the most when we teach by example.

ETpro's avatar

I could not disagree more. I learned to speak from others. I learned math, and history, and science. An old master carpenter taught me to build buildings with my hands and a few simple tools. I owe teachers of one kind or another for just about everything I know.

ipso's avatar

I agree with the soft point of the quote:

You can’t teach the feeling of looking at your child for the first time.
You can’t teach the feeling of a perfectly carved turn at 120mph.
You can’t teach the feeling of desperation when you first get your heart broken – and then learn how to recover.
You can’t teach what it feels like to be hunted by men with guns.
You can’t teach the taste of a great Scotch – no matter how many silly taste words you use.

So, in that context, I enthusiastically agree with the quote.

It also gets to a certain humbleness understood by really good teachers:

“You can’t teach someone anything; you can only show them what they already know.”

The idea being that knowledge is relational, and can by definition only makes sense if the student has some kind of framework and reference points – otherwise they did not learn it – they just memorized it. The epiphany happens in their heads – so you did not give it to them – so to speak.

A student has to “own” the concept before it can have been “given”. A very Eastern Zen kind of thing.

Dojo’s are very big on little written or spoken “teaching”. It’s about demonstration and practice. Which is why leading by example – as mentioned – is so great too.

That’s what I think.

zenele's avatar

I love this question and thread.

I agree, and disagree.

When you teach, you learn. Especially those who are so inclined, and learn best in that way. I am that way.

You can only teach someone who wants to learn. Then, they are really teaching you.

Trillian's avatar

@le_inferno I don’t necessarily agree with that either. Mr. Darcy certainly fell in love with Elizabeth with no help from her….

Silhouette's avatar

Total malarkey. Every mother knows you can teach your children love, compassion, generosity of spirit, how to listen and many other things worth knowing.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t agree, whatsoever. I have taught many and I know what I taught sunk in.

reverie's avatar

I think Austen’s statement seems a little fallacious, because there is a difference between “instruction” and “teaching”.

A lot of people in this thread who disagree with this statement seem to do so because they perceive that they can teach love, respect, and so on, which I totally agree with. I believe that teaching has many guises, including modeling of certain behaviours and attitudes, which others can learn a great deal from. I definitely don’t think that’s the same as “instruction” on such matters, in that I don’t think you can “instruct” someone to learn about the value of compassion, to learn how to move on after having their heart broken, and so on. Of course, you could try, but I think it would probably be less successful.

I agree that there is perhaps a limited scope of things that you can learn about via explicit instruction, but immense value to things that you might learn about through teaching, whether the teacher is teaching you in an overt, deliberate way, or whether they are teaching you in a covert, or even unintentional way. With that said, because we each differ so much in what we find valuable and “worth knowing”, there’s really no way of objectively judging how well that statement would resonate with each individual person.

Berserker's avatar

Meh. The first person I’d dismiss is the one who claims to know what’s worth knowing and what isn’t.

bob_'s avatar

@Symbeline I’ve got your something worth knowing right here, pal!

Berserker's avatar

’‘sings hot for teacher’’

sakura's avatar

We teach best what we most need to learn…

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