“Staying ignorant is a choice in a time of information.” 

That explosion of wisdom was dropped on me by a grade eleven learner on a Zoom call on Friday. i was in a conversation with a number of young people talking about leadership when Katie threw that one into the mix.

After a bit of a morning Google it looks like the original author might be someone who i used to enjoy reading in the form of Donald Miller:

Donald Miller quote

It is quite a simple statement and yet so profound. And while it doesn’t apply to everyone, because of access and data and connectivity and all of that, it typically applies to the majority of people i engage with on social media. And so it feels contextually relevant. If you’re reading this, for example, it applies to you.

And seems to manifest in a number of different ways of which here are three:

  • If i have been alerted to a current news story and write a Facebook status about it, someone will inevitably jump on and ask, “Who is Penny Sparrow?” GOOGLE IT! IF you see a name you don’t recognise that is obviously at the heart of a news story, it will take you three seconds to open a tab and stick the name into Google and find everything you need to know. Or at least the bones of the story. And if you don’t feel like you have the time to do that tiny bit of work, then you don’t have enough time to engage with me doing the work for you [because i will have to do a Google and a cut and paste in any case to get the information to you].
  • Before you share an article or provocative headline [and this applies doubly if it is the news of a high profile person’s death] spend a few seconds doing a quick Google [can you spot the theme here?] trying your best to ascertain if it is true or not. Before you join the crowds of Fake News distributors. If it is important enough to pass on, then surely it is worth spending a few seconds extra doing your best to see if it is true or not? For me i have found one of the best ways of this is inputting the key names or words of the incident into Google and the word ‘Scam’. Because if something is a known scam or hoax, there will likely be a few articles talking about that. Snopes.com is another site that is helpful in terms of figuring out if a story is legit or not.
  • The Race Conversation is a space where well-meaning white people tend to go to their black, indian and coloured friends to ask them to tell them how/where they have been racist. i have heard from many friends how exhausting this is for them. You have some white people who have finally realised they need to do work on their own anti-racism and they ask their friends of colour to do the work for them. This is not okay. Especially when there is so much out there for people who are trying to learn how to deal with their own racist tendencies and thoughts and behaviours. One place is the fifty short videos i am working on in my ‘Race with me’ series of which you can find the first ten over here. But from Layla Saad’s ‘Me and White Supremacy’ to Robin DiAngelo’s ‘White Fragility’ there are a number of books and videos and podcasts that will help you to do the work .

All this to say, the statement is true. Staying ignorant is absolutely a choice in a time of accessible information. Do the work!

ignorance quote Martin Luther King Jr

But Katie wasn’t done.

Another quote she dropped which i think she said she got from a teacher went like this:

Normalise changing your opinion once you’ve learned something new.

This one seems to be a little harder to track down with a range of names attributed to it, including Cheech from ‘Cheech and Chong’ drug comedy fame. So who knows? But it is also worth reflecting on.

Normalise changing your opinion

i don’t think too much more needs to be said about this one. 

What might the world look like if we took this one seriously? To so many ‘changing your mind’ seems to be seen as a sign of weakness. Whereas it is quite the opposite. To change your mind following new information shows maturity and growth and learning which are all good.

To be able to declare: I used to think that way, but having learned some things, I have now changed my mind and think this way. So much strength in there.

Maybe we should all be spending a lot more time listening to grade 11’s. They seem to hold the future keys in their hands. And voices.

What is a quote or saying you have heard recently which has caused you to pause and maybe reflect and change? Drop it in the comments below. Bonus points if it comes from someone younger than you! Age is sadly never a determiner of wisdom. 

[For a piece asking the question: What are you feeding your eyes? which is connected to the wisdom in this piece, click here]