Knowledge v Wisdom

blog post
Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand
Or [mfn]internet research attributes the former and latter to more than one originator[/mfn]
Knowledge without wisdom is a load of books on the back of an ass

One of the first questions I was asked by someone in the high school basic electronics class I taught was, “Mr. Benson, can you make a bomb?”

“‘Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?’ The shadow knows!” This introductory line from the 1930s-1940s radio show The Shadow seems fitting here.

Being honest, I confirmed that I learned when I was in the Army Security Agency during the Berlin Wall era.

The story is on I, JMB Say

The next question was easy to anticipate, “Will you teach us how?”

My answer of course was a resounding, “NO!”
The vocational class was focused on both theory and practical applications, so one of the optional projects I had for them was to build a car alarm. The option was a hit with several boys and one girl who had just become drivers of their own car.

Well, anyone understanding the wisdom level of a teen boy wouldn’t be surprised with an adaptation of his newly gained knowledge. In this case, I was a little startled, but not at all surprised when I heard horn blasting in the hallway during class change. My first thought was that the boy was just showing what he had put together for his car. But the horn kept sounding after the tardy bell rang.

The boy had put the trigger device in another student’s locker, the electronics in his own locker, and the horn in still another. The custodian with vice principal opened the horned locker first and disconnected the horn. A hall locker inspection ensued, and the first suspect was a girl in whose locker the trigger switch was found. She wasn’t in my class, but her boyfriend was. He got suspended for a week.

The VP told me I would get a letter of reprimand because I taught students how to assemble a disruptive device. My counter was that he should also reprimand the boy’s elementary teachers because they taught him to read well enough to follow the kit building instructions. I also suggested he confer with the parents about teaching a little wisdom. I didn’t get a letter.

Although similar in perception, there is considerable difference in knowledge and wisdom.


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