Knowing What We Know

2013-tanzania-787Stella Maris – Moshi – Tanzania

I used to see it every day in meetings in the business world. A volunteer is asked of the group for something, a suggestion, an opinion, an answer. No one wants to step up to the plate. A question is asked and people avoid eye contact because they do not know the answer, or are unsure of the answer. Even if someone has the right answer, sometimes they are just afraid to be the one to speak up. Overall, professional people are resistant to speak up or stand out when in a crowd. You get them one on one, they will agree to and answer anything.

Young children seem to be the opposite. Especially in my new class room in Moshi, Tanzania. In a class of 53 children ranging in age from 4 to 7 when the teacher asks for someone to come to the board, 50 hands go up excitedly. So much so, children nearly fall out of their seats (sometimes do) trying to be called on. This is not because 50 children know the right answer. At least 10 of those will get to the board and have no clue what the question even was once they get up there. These kids do not have any answer, but they still want to be called one. 10 more have the wrong answer and still begged to be called on. There may be some concerns of the amount of children who do not know the answer. But, I just love how many of them want to try anyway, no matter the amount of times they get it wrong.

So, how do we get from wanting to be called on no matter how wrong we are, no matter how many times to excusing ourselves to use the restroom or avoiding eye contact so we have a reason not to answer even if we are correct.

I do not have that answer. But, I have a feeling that it starts around the same time it go from being awesome that you know all the answers and are confident about sharing to being pinned as a know it all. When and why do we start being targeted negatively for being proud of knowing what we know.