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The correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 29 December 2017

 


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The correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 210
Posted DateFriday 29 December 2017 12:49 GMT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen

Whether it is our educational systems or the presentations we give at conferences, we focus far too much on filling people's heads with content. It is not an effective way of teaching. We need to inspire people to learn for themselves, not attempt to fill their heads with stuff.

Plutarch understood this, almost 2,000 years ago when he said:
The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.

You are probably familiar with this quotation but actually it is a popular contraction of what he really said, here is a translation of the original text in context.
The correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting -- no more -- and then it motivates one towards originality and instills the desire for truth.

Suppose someone were to go and ask his neighbors for fire and find a substantial blaze there, and just stay there continually warming himself: that is no different from someone who goes to someone else to get to some of his rationality, and fails to realize that he ought to ignite his own flame, his own intellect, but is happy to sit entranced by the lecture, and the words trigger only associative thinking and bring, as it were, only a flush to his cheeks and a glow to his limbs; but he has not dispelled or dispersed, in the warm light of philosophy, the internal dank gloom of his mind.


I rather like the original.



Would you like to learn how to run a Knowledge Café?

If so, I am running a Knowledge Café Masterclass with CILIP in central London on Thursday 1st November 2018.

You can find full information here: https://www.cilip.org.uk/page/KnowledgeCafe

     

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