What is wisdom?
the quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgement.
thinking and acting using knowledge, experiences, common-sense, understanding and insight.
something that it is not innate, but can only be got through experience.
Leonardo da Vinci said that :
“Wisdom is the daughter of experience.”
and he was right.
Through the myriad of experiences I have had, I have gained wisdom. Do I wish I had not had some of those experiences? Of course I do, but everything that I have gone through in my life has led to me learning more and becoming wiser. I can’t learn wisdom from a book, I can read about other’s thoughts, experiences and insights, but until I live through an experience I won’t really know how to handle it and what to do. Wisdom means that the next time it happens, I will have the knowledge from the first time to fall back on. I won’t feel so wet behind the ears.
Being an experienced teacher is a wonderful thing. In school, other teachers often ask for my guidance and advice and I’m able to give it to them. Teaching for twenty years and holding a variety of roles in the primary sector has led to me learning lots. A few of the younger teachers have told me that I am very wise, that does make me feel like some wizened old man, but I think that it is a compliment. I am able to guide, but this isn’t because I knew what to do at the time, but because I learnt from the many mistakes that I made both in and out of the classroom.
This is so true – I didn’t know what wisdom was until I acquired it. Now I am armed with a plethora of solutions for an array of situations and for that I am truly grateful. With wisdom comes regret though and hindsight – wishing that I had dealt differently with situations but knowing that I wouldn’t have known how to until I’d been through them. That sounds utterly bizarre – we can’t be wise until we have gone through the situation and learnt what to do, but I suppose that is why people play the same computer games over and over again. They learn where to find the potions, the monsters, the weapons and they learn from each experience they have, enabling them to finally win with the wisdom they have gained.
Sadly, life isn’t like a computer game – we can’t go back to the beginning and have another go. I’m quite sure that many politicians, scientists and health-professionals wish that we could go back to December 2019, as I am positive that they would deal with Covid-19 differently given the wisdom that they have now gained. Back then, they knew what an international pandemic might look like, they had read, studied and gained knowledge about it, but they only truly became wise about what to do once they were facing it – living it. They are all now wiser and possibly do regret decisions made or directions taken – they have all now gained the wisdom to know what to do when faced with an international pandemic – wisdom that I don’t believe any of them ever wanted.
Wisdom is a wonderful thing to have but it really does come at a price sometimes. Let us hope that we never have to apply this wisdom again to anything quite so terrible.