You Can Do Better Than Retain Knowledge

Studies show that people retain 90% of the knowledge they teach others, and only 10% of the knowledge they gain from reading.

That’s great if you want your brain to be an encyclopedia.

I think it’s about more than that.

Teaching is an act of transformation. Both the teacher and the student are transformed by their interaction. They can never think the same way again.

It’s a kind of alchemy. Transmutation. By changing your thinking to pass through the refiner’s fire of the other person’s misunderstandings, you glimpse an entirely different world view. What your knowledge is becomes fundamentally different. Lead is turned to gold.

Learning is important, but teaching goes beyond that. To learn, you have to squeeze information through your worldview, and you get knowledge. To teach, you have to squeeze your worldview through someone else’s, and that gives you wisdom.

Knowledge and wisdom are entirely different things, because wisdom is something you use to change your reality. In wisdom, there is power. More importantly, in the wise use of wisdom there is the happy weariness of one who has exhausted himself giving his all. There is the fulfillment that comes from doing something meaningful.

It’s like water. Retaining water makes us feel bloated. But using water to irrigate the crops and quench a thirsty city are good things.

Knowledge, like water, demands to be used, not retained.

It’s just up to us to transmute knowledge into wisdom.

Teach what you know. Not only does it make knowledge useful, it turns you into gold. Metaphorically, of course.

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