Overcoming knowledge…

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Drink deep or touch not the Pierian Spring.
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
(Alexander Pope)

Knowing a little can be a bad thing…and convincing yourself that you know it all based on knowing just a little is a very bad thing. As a teacher, I speak the truth here. Everyone watches movies or television or the web. Lots of folks have cameras and/or camcorders. They all “know” how to shoot. One of the biggest hurdles I have to overcome as a broadcsting teacher is students’ perceptions of what they know and how much they know.

Those of you who aspire to become videojournalists understand this…life is a constant learning experience. You can never “know it all.” The deeper you drink from the wellspring of inspiration (passion for learning), the more you realize how little you know.

It is that willingness to say, “I don’t know – teach me,” that makes great students and philosophers. Life long learning is a given for those who choose journalism as their life’s calling. Your job requires you to think and question, analyze and reflect, compare/contrast and write (why do I feel like an English teacher? Oh yeah….). In order to decipher information for your audience, you have to thoroughly understand it – well enough to simplify and explain even the most complex concepts. Visual journalists (VJs/videojournalists) must go one step furuther. They must find a way to visualize ideas, emotions in a way that makes the audience see/feel/know what they are trying to convey.

I’ve never seen a good reporter say, “Yeah…I know it all already.” There’s always one more question to ask.

So where does this lead? As a high school teacher, I’m in the middle of a balancing act: trying to instill a passion for learning in my students and making them understand that admitting you need to learn is just as important as learning. Too many students are hopping through hoops, doing what’s required to get the grade and move on. They think they already know what they need to know…and for many, there is no joy in learning. I have some remarkable students who are derailing themselves because of this. And I have some soon-to-be remarkable students who have forgotten about grades and who are driving themselves because they have found their passion – be it poetry, break dancing, or editing. They are making themselves learn, telling me they need to know more because they don’t know it all. This is the part I love about teaching – when I stop teaching and become a guide. (These, by the way, are students that I allow to break free of the regular regnimen of assignments and strike out on independent projects…their needs go beyond my pre-packaged lessons.)

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