“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” When T. S. Eliot wrote these words in 1934, he could hardly have imagined the information explosion of the 21st century.

We are awash in information. Data and facts are available at our fingertips; even at our voice command, if we are lucky enough to be on the leading edge of the technological curve. With this almost universal ease of access to information, our role as teachers and librarians is no longer the mere teaching of content. Instead, I believe our mission has shifted. Content knowledge is no longer enough. It must be complemented by wisdom.

Wisdom? In an elementary school? Isn’t wisdom the province of those of advancing years? Of crones and wise old men? Not necessarily. If wisdom is defined as insight or a deeper understanding, then wisdom can be developed and nurtured in our youngest students.

What does wisdom look like in elementary school? It is the ah-ha moment when a face lights up and a hand shoots up into the air. It is the text-to-self connection that cannot wait to be shared. It is the “I get it!” shouted out with glee. Wisdom is self-knowledge. Wisdom is empathy. Wisdom is becoming aware that one is a citizen of a global society.

I believe that this is our goal as educators of the 21st century—to go beyond the teaching of facts and figures, beyond to the world of asking questions, making connections and digging deeper. This, to me, is the wisdom of the young child—it’s noisy, unbridled and joyful. It is our future.


One Comment on “Where?”

  1. I couldn’t agree more with your last paragraph. We still have to memorise things without understanding them-society encourages spoon-feeding information without questioning anything. It’s much easier to get that A grade just by learning things instead of actually questioning them.

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