It’s that time of year again…college applications.
As I sat in my classroom helping a student with her essay for her college application, my mind started to wander and bemuse the ideas that she was going to discuss in her essay. Her topic is something along the lines of: “How is being a teenager harder today than ever before?” I thought about it. There are a lot of things facing teenagers today that weren’t problems twenty years ago. Likewise, there are probably problems that teenagers faced twenty years ago that they don’t face today.
As I spoke with her about all the different choices facing students today, I suddenly figured out what choice I would talk about if I were writing this essay: the choice of ignorance.
In today’s society, most of us has the potential answer to every question we can possibly think to ask at our fingertips. Our smartphones are the gateways to information, but we’re too busy using them to send whiny texts or filtered Snapchats to our friends.
It’s difficult to quantify just how many of my students would rather just have the answer than would get the answer. They would rather not do the work and have it done for them.
I’ll give you an example.
My students use laptops in class, and one day I was giving a lecture on the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s. I said a word that I use often but they don’t hear often, which was counterintuitive. Instantly, a student raises his hand to ask me what it means. I responded, you have a laptop right in front of you. He said, “Just tell me.” I told him I wouldn’t and that if he wanted to know the word, he needed to look it up.
His response to that was something I will never forget. He said, “No, that’s too much work. I don’t want to know it that bad.”
He chose to be ignorant in this case because it was “too much work” not to be. It was too much work to hit sixteen letters on the keyboard and the enter key. It was too much work to Google the word. It was too much work to engage his curiosity. He gave up, and accepted mediocrity and ignorance.
I’m not sure why people choose to remain ignorant. Is it because they don’t want to put in the effort? Is it because they lack the urge to be curious? Is it because they don’t want to know?
If anyone can figure it out, let me know.
In my opinion, choosing ignorance to anything is choosing death. You can’t hope to progress as a person or a society while remaining ignorant to things. Think about it. Do research on things you don’t know. Question everything. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. Be curious. Be informed.