Know what you have learned

Know what you have learned May 18, 2012

Today’s Delphic Maxim appeals to the scholar in me. I’ve spent a lot of money on my education – vocal performance and religious studies – so I damn well better know what I’ve learned. It has only been 8 months since I walked away from the PhD program and I already find myself forgetting sources, details, arguments I once had. But I don’t think book knowledge is necessarily what this maxim is talking about.

I think this maxim is encouraging self-reflection. I’ve learned not just fancy techniques or big words, I’ve also learned from my mistakes, from my interactions with others in the world, from my travels, from listening, from my experience. What have I learned? What do I know?

Turns out I know very little. If I reflect I will be humbled by that realization. But I will also take deeply to heart the few things I have come to know, and will value not just the knowledge but the ways in which I gained that knowledge. Knowledge isn’t just information.

This maxim reminds me to reflect. Not just on all the pieces of learning I’ve acquired; it also reminds me to stop in each moment, to take a moment to pause: what did just learn? Don’t just race off to the next fact, post, page, book, experience. What have I learned?

And once I’ve gotten a grasp on what I’ve learned, take ownership of that. As a female in the scholarly and online world, there are only too many males out there that want to tell me what I know or don’t know. This was a particularly frequent experience when I worked in bookstores and would get cornered by older, white, men who wanted to tell me all about some topic, even if it was an author, a book, or topic that I knew quite well.

So I shall reflect on what I know, and I will stand firm in that. Firm doesn’t mean resistant to new knowledge or learning, but it means…. I know what I have learned.

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