Saturday, December 3, 2011

I Will Teach You Nothing - You Will Learn Much From Me

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Portrait of René Descartes, dubbed the "F...Image via Wikipedia - Rene Descartes: philosopher, mathematician, theoretical physicist, and a fellow with an unkempt but nonetheless fascinating hairstyle.

Most individuals don't actually understand the distinction between teaching (a third-person exercise) and learning (a first-person exercise). 

When a wise philosopher [most philosophers are assumed to be wise -- this is principally out of respect, I believe, for any person with the wondrous ability to a) survive without actually having to either earn a living by some sort of work, or b) with the good fortune to be leisurely whittling away at a substantial familial inheritance while pontificating about whatever happens to be on his or her mind] said to one of his disciples (every successful philosopher worth his weight in either hemlock or horse manure must have disciples):

"I will teach you nothing. And you will learn much from me," he was not even stating a clever paradox. There actually is no puzzle or riddle embedded in this preliminarily conflictory-seeming statement. If you don't quite understand why, re-read the first sentence of this post.
If that doesn't satisfy, read on:

We learn by teaching ourselves. No one truly teaches us. We learn by voluntary applying our senses and ability to reason to teaching ourselves. This is what is meant when someone (usually a meddlesome, conceited, self-proclaimed "adult") says,"You can best teach by example," or "children don't learn by what we preach to them; they learn by observing what we actually do."

A teacher is a catalyst, or a source of information, or an inspiration. But we learn by teaching ourselves.

Douglas E. Castle []

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