This saying was introduced to me about 10 years ago by someone whom I now consider one of my best friends. This saying was being related to the art of rock climbing. Upon becoming more and more experienced as a rock climber I notice how true this statement is. Other climbers who know a little bit about climbing, guiding and interacting on the mountain have learned horrible habits and very unsafe practices. Understand, I do not want to imply that I know any more than I do, but I know enough to know unsafe practices. Clearly, in this situation “A little bit of knowledge is a very dangerous thing” because one can be injured or killed.
More and more, I see a different direction that this quote could be applied. Having been an educator for more than 15 years. I have observed there to be an innate desire, a wish, and a plan for, even in the intentions, in education to provide just a little bit of knowledge. Common core curriculum does just that; it boils the curriculum down so that everyone receives the same minimum, a common denominator of education. Yes, this is a dangerous thing.
I see more and more in society as well as in education the willingness to do the bare minimum. I see a lack of pride in doing an amazing job, going above the standard of what is expected and an unwillingness to step above what others think is passable as an accomplishment. This little bit of knowledge and societal fault allows the millennials and soon should be young adults to act as pliable pawns who can carry out the actions of the people who designed the curriculum in which the pawns were instructed. I recall a book I read while I was 22 called Lies My Teacher Told Me. This book, filled with interesting factoid‘s and truths, as my further research and much more reading enlightened me to, expressed something more valuable to me; the realization that the textbooks are written by, published by and supported by corporations. These corporations, who actually control the country, and affect society in ways that are beyond what most citizens realize.
Education is not being presented as anything more than teaching how to memorize and glean basic tricks to hit the feeder bar so you can get a treat; this is not intelligence. Instead of teaching how to think to analyze, critique and interpret the world corporations have taught society to accept lies, mistruths, and misrepresentations as valued information that they should shape their lives and beliefs around. This creates a society of apathetic, entitled, irresponsible and sheepish citizens; not as intuitive, inventive, ambitious and energetic leaders. This education creates generations of followers who are blinded by the awesomeness of what they were not taught. I wish for this not to be the truth, but the more time I spend in education struggling against this message I realize it to be ingrained in their psyche in the society of America. In fact, Donald Trump convinced a nation that following him as our leader would make America great again. Unfortunately, until America is able to think for itself no matter how good of a leader we have we will not ever be great.
In my opinion, my new understanding of the saying “a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing“ directly focuses upon how the most educated among us may have a little bit of knowledge and it is this little bit of knowledge that makes for a dangerous thing.