Wisdom vs. Knowledge

In this post, I intend to introduce two new vocabulary terms for later discussion. I feel like the way I am defining them is similar to popular usage, but for the necessity of clear explication, as well as an effort towards synthesis, I will offer a definition here.

Knowledge – content based understanding

Wisdom – the skill or mechanism through which understanding is internally constructed and developed

To offer a metaphor,

There stands a tall tree, it’s trunk, of wisdom derived. It stretches and reaches, up to the light, and roots itself in the soil. The more it grows, the more bountiful its crop, a fruit of knowledge. Each, much like the last, but distinct. Though fruit may fall, it then decays, becoming soil for the next spring.

With that ramble I am trying to articulate that wisdom is grown like a skill. A wise individual is one who can look at a situation, and articulate an understanding of content that offers depth. Just as some fruit can be ripe, rich, and full of nutrients, others can be barren, bitter, and even poisonous. The knowledge we hold is a result of the psychological structures we use to create it.

Knowledge is transitory and dependent upon memory, context, and recollection. As has been often shown, what we remember changes with each recollection, and the organizational structure (and depth) of our understanding changes dependent upon focus, concentration, etc.

What I am trying to suggest here is that the act of constructing ideas, is an exercise in itself. When a child begins constructing their own knowledge (worldly understandings), they are simple at first, like the first leaves of a sapling. But through this experience of developing an understanding and then moving on, this mimics the fall and decay of leaves fertilizing future growth. Understandings grow in complexity with each subsequent construction.

Knowledge is demonstrable. Wisdom is the process through which knowledge is demonstrated.

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This post was written for the talk “APIs and Beyond” at the Faria Education Technology Conference 2021.               APIs or Application Programming Interfaces are central

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