One of the greatest beauties of knowledge is that it can be shared without division. I can know something and I can pass that knowledge on to someone else, without any reduction in what I possess. I will even be richer for the giving, as the process of teaching deepens my knowledge.
Knowledge grows and develops among people more like plants than like manufactured commodities, by the abundant production of seeds in the minds of those who acquire it, which in turn produce further seeds, and so it spreads, as long as the conditions are right for germination.
But how widespread are those favourable conditions? How many schools have a clear, direct mission to transfer to the next generation the most important human knowledge, which cost so many of our ancestors so much struggle? How many teachers realise that every single one of their pupils is capable of establishing firm foundations in every academic subject, so long as memorisation and repeated practice are an ordinary feature of teaching? How many pupils are cheated out of the mind-expanding potential of the great truths of science and literature, being patronised instead with ‘relevant’, dumbed down content that leaves them exactly where they started, or even poorer, convinced that it is their opinion that matters, not the timeless insights of greater, wiser minds?
Knowledge only costs us the effort to acquire it, but it is a priceless acquisition. It is one of the greatest tragedies of our education system that knowledge has so often had a price tag attached. Because of the bad ideas that have burdened so many state schools for so many years, those who have wished their children to acquire knowledge, the heritage of every human being, have often felt that they need to pay fees, on top of the taxes which they have no choice but to pay, in order for this to happen.
(Image: The Little Schoolboy by Antonio Mancini, 1852-1930).