Genius, pt. II

As I mentioned in the first post of this blog series, the first chapter of “The Geography of Genius” focuses on the geniuses of Athens, and in that chapter the author looked into the relationship between ignorance and creative breakthroughs.

The author, Eric Weiner, quoted a filmmaker who said, “We’re not very good at knowing what we don’t know,” and said that this is one reason why “more of us aren’t geniuses” because “the first step in any breakthrough is realizing that a breakthrough is necessary, realizing that your knowledge is imperfect.” He added that people who have some kind of ignorance are “more likely to achieve creative breakthroughs than those who are convinced they have it all figured out.”

I have no idea if the author is right or wrong because I don’t the experience or knowledge, about the relationship between “ignorance” and creative breakthrough, to agree or disagree; but I do think that a kind of “ignorance” can help in learning a language.

In my experience as an English teacher, I’ve had students who think they are already good enough at something or do not admit that they have made a mistake because they say they already know it, and I think their growth is usually slower than my students who take in everything – everything – as if they didn’t know anything.

I don’t know if my observation is accurate but a long, long time ago, a philosopher called Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing.”