Today is part four of the series in which we analyze Yuval Noah Harari’s lessons from his book ’21 lessons for the 21st century’. We aim to change the culture we live in, for the better, through our children. And you, being a parent, have a direct role, a direct way to leave a legacy of positive change. Of course it turns out that being a parent, and effecting this change, isn’t easy. But listening to a 3 minute podcast is. So keep hanging in there with us and we’ll work on making it easier for you.
Harari’s Chapter 15 is on Ignorance.
This should be an easy one right? Ignorance is bad? Education is the great equalizer?
He writes: “scientists have demonstrated that most human decisions are based on emotional reactions and heuristics shortcuts rather than on rational analysis and that while our emotions and heuristics were perhaps suitable for dealing with life in the Stone Age they are woefully inadequate in the Silicon Age.”
No individual knows everything it takes to build a cathedral and atom bomb or an aircraft. What gave homo sapiens an edge over other animals was not rationality but our unparalleled ability to think together in large groups.”
So in the age of cavemen, we didn’t have a lot of people or science to expand our knowledge base. And you could make a case that today’s human also needs very little (or at least a very narrow) set of knowledge to survive well.
But when we’re raising small children, I’m going to have to work on cutting my kid a break for not knowing all of the answers to the questions. What we need to do is acknowledge that everything that is a fact, can be looked up. And what needs to be done by modern man is to lead. To lead others, to group all of the knowledge together; what we call a modern manager. That’s the key work of tomorrow.
In fact, chapter 19 states his opinion that “what kids really need to learn is adaptability, learning how to learn, resilience, curiosity, critical thinking, problem solving, and effective collaboration.
And there are some good teachers who have tried to solve this problem as woefully ineffective as any one person is: They tried to get people to organize information, vs learn it. And to think critically of information sources. That’ll be key moving forward.