'I Know' : The Two Most Destructive Words

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'I Know' : The Two Most Destructive Words In Learning

We all laugh at Little Britain's wheelchair-bound Andy Pipkin when he constantly retorts 'Yea I know' to just about everything his selflessly dedicated carer Lou says to him.

That's because he clearly doesn't listen, doesn't understand, and plainly doesn't really know at all.

To have an open mind to learning, it's important to avoid having an automatic response mechanism that says 'I know that'. Even though it's likely that we'll have some knowledge of a topic, it's the wrong attitude to come in with.

Replacing 'I know that' with 'isn't that interesting' or 'let me find out more' allows the brain to become receptive to more information, and often a deeper understanding.

Saying 'I know' shuts down our ability to objectively take in knowledge, as it's a command to our sub-conscious mind to switch off. It's like mentally closing a door, which then limits us to a lower level of comprehension than we might otherwise have gained. Even if we still go through the motions of a teaching session, with a 'know it all' attitude we're unlikely to remember if anything new is covered. It's a pretty safe bet that even when we do 'know' something about a subject, there's still more to learn and finer points of distinction to understand.

School's never out for the professional, and it's a fact that everyone in the world knows something that you don't know, however clever you are. Keeping an open mind yields new perspectives and avenues that weren't seen before, and this can lead to a deeper understanding all-round. There's no shame in repeating a topic several times to really get to grips with a subject.

Every time you open-mindedly look again at something you already know, you'll find new titbits of discovery. Think about a film you've enjoyed. When you watch it for the second time, you notice more sub-plots, and you pick up on key pieces of dialogue that have more meaning now.

Sometimes, reviewing information challenges our current understanding. We then need to dig in further, to test whether we had understood something correctly, or whether we need to modify our original thoughts. Only an open-minded approach will solidify knowledge at this level. We've evolved as a race by being open to new ideas - remember there was a time when people 'knew' the world was flat! Steadfastly sticking to an 'I know' attitude means we're at the peak of our ability to learn. Open the floodgates, and there's no telling how clever we could become...

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