The more we learn the less we really know


Oh dear I must apologise to 3E4- I just counted how many speech topics I had up here and realised that I had left one out. Sorry, 3E4! It was not intentional, I assure you. Anyway we have Andrew who has been elected as frontman, and I wish him all the best.

How are we going to interpret the idea of learning? And what about knowledge? One way of looking at it could be to see learning as the conscious acquisition of information in an institutional setting (school!), and to see knowledge as common wisdom that we pick up through real life experiences. Do you think that spending too much time on the former actually leaves us too little time to engage in the latter?

On the other hand you could choose to disagree with the statement by arguing that learning is the acquisition of knowledge, in which case the statement would not be true at all.

Nurmatha posted a comment, but because this entry was not up yet, she had to comment under the “Tips for making a good speech” section. What about the rest of you? If you are not sure how to start, I invite you to take a look at the topics of the other classes. There are some very insightful comments up already.


13 thoughts on “The more we learn the less we really know

  1. Hi Mrs V and all students who are so fortunate to have her as their teacher!,

    I would like to share my thoughts on this topic. I feel that the statement “The more we learn the less we really know” is quite true. The more time we spend studying something or exploring a subject, the more we realize that there is still a vast amount of knowledge and information out there which is totally new to us. We were not even aware of its existence before we started studying that topic!

    For instance, we are introduced to subject such as mathematics and physics in our primary/secondary schools. Each year the syllabus seems to be a lot and clearing the year end exams seem to be the most difficult task ever! However, the very next year we are introduced to even more complicated topics. We are expected to use the concepts that we already know to dive deeper into the topics that we have already been introduced to, and at the same time explore more unfamiliar topics.
    Moreover, this process continues year after year, right through our secondary school, JC, university, graduate school and even PhD! I am sure that my friends currently working on their PhDs, slogging for hours and days together in their research labs trying to explore new frontiers in science and mathematics would vouch for that.

    Also, though not very related to this topic, I came across an interesting essay called The Pleasures of Ignorance by Robert Lynd. In this essay, the author talks about how interesting and exciting it is to come across something that you are not aware of, and thus how exciting and pleasurable it is to be ignorant! You can read this essay at Project Gutenberg ( It’s the very first chapter of the book.

    Please do let me know what you think about this, and if in case I am wrong in my understanding of the topic, please do correct me.




  2. The MORE we learn, the LESS we really know

    – we can’t apply what we learn in school to real life
    – too many things too digest
    – we forget the old things we learnt as we are continually bombarded with new things
    – lessons are very dry so we don’t really learn anything….we are like photocopiers who just copy down what the teacher says without understanding what is being taught

  3. Nurmatha thanks for re-entering your comments here. You have made some very good points, and I like the idea that you have put forward that it is the mode of learning that decreases our knowledge, simply because it saps us of the desire to learn.

    Aalok- I’m glad you chose this post to comment on. I appreciate the new angle you have added: that in learning more, it is not that we know less per se, but that we realise how little we really know. It would be interesting to see if anyone takes this up. (But don’t hold your breath!)

  4. Hi Aalok, I somehow agree with your perspective that indeed the more that we learn, the more that we realise that we really would not know. Linking it back to my own experience, when I was in Primary Two, I managed to solve a P6 Maths MCQ question by luck, and through that, I realised that I have a lot more to learn. To compare it to a larger picture, say earth explorers at the beginning of the century, it can be seen that as they explore deeper into the earth, they will realise that the earth has many interesting facets that is yet to be explored. The awareness of this can be linked to the topic like what you have said: The more we learn, the less we really know.

    I would like to offer my own opinions here too. Given that I have been working closely in CIP involvement for the past two years, I have noticed a few patterns. For instance, there are people that know about charity in theory, but do not practise it. By spending all the time in classrooms and studying theories, they lack the experience of practising it themselves. Also, there are people who would give model answers when it comes to reflections time, but really these are just products of the long hours of studying. What is lacking in society is practise. In modern context people stay in offices and schools for up to twelve hours, and when they go home more work has to be done, not leaving any time for experience. What I feel this question really means is that the more that we study, the less we really know it, for everything in theory is not always accurate (I’m sure scientists may agree with me), and is through practice and experience that we gain more knowledge.



    – limitations of the mind
    – fixed mindset
    – different perspective

    – people tell us information but we are not searching it on our own
    – spoon-feed
    – polytechnic life > too focused on one absolute topic
    >mind is not expanded to other outside factors
    – mind not exposed to the outside world

    – education is a progress discovery of our own ignorance

  6. Thanks Andrew- it’s a good idea to bring in your own personal experiences. Makes the whole argument more grounded.

    I like the quotation provided by “another 3E4”. It seems to be tailor-made for our topic. Do you have a source for the quotation, though? Just to authenticate it?

  7. Dear Mrs V

    I agree with the above comments. However so it may seem, nevertheless, we are still being spoon fed by teachers. isn’t it time we learn and share our resources with our fellow friends? Seriously speaking, that would make more sense rather than for students to listen to teachers day in and day out. Woudlnt it be easier for teachers to review the students resource before they start. Although i agree that it would not be easily feasible, it could be done once in a while to spark up creatovity and to learn. I remember a newspaper article a couple of weeks back saying that if one were to study on his own accord and interest, the retention memory of that person would improve and he would easily remember whatever he read up on. I tried it myself and it worked spectacularly. maybe, the education system should try something similar every so often.

    3E6 (we rawk)

  8. Firstly we need to define what learning is. As long as we are dependent on others for knowledge it is not true learning. In order to “learn” you must experience and test what others have taught you. That means most of us are yet to learn – and therefore we are all ignorant. I don’t think Aalok’s reference and quote makes any sense to this thread of argument. If he feels it is not relevant then why quote here – that surely shows a lack of learning and desperate need for knowledge. But it helps to substantiate my case – that learning is not complete without testing it out independently – relying on schooling and tests merely introduces you to tools. How you apply them decides how much you learn. and ONLY then can you start to appreciate what you know and what you don’t.

  9. Hi Silent Voice! Thanks for speaking up, and NOT remaining silent. These are good points that bring a new perspective on the issue- we need to test what we learn to turn it into knowledge.

  10. The more we learn, the less we really know. My splendid group consisting of Jiakang ZhenZi Damen and me came up with four ideas. The 1st one being that we were not given a lot of chances to go out into the real world and have real experiences.

    The second idea is that in school, we learn about a specific subject, thus ignoring all other interesting things out there that we can learn. Therefore the more we learn, the less we know.

    The third idea is that too much learning would confuse us due to the mixture and similarities in the topic, and in the end, when we are exhausted, we will tend to forget the things we learned and thus the more we learn, the less we know.

    The last idea is that education in Singapore do not teach us to think out of the box and when we could not think out of the box, we will lose chances to know things.

  11. Not late at all, and very succinctly expressed. Well done! Your splendid group has done a great job, coming up with four seperate points that are valid as well as relevant and interesting!

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