It can be a pain sitting in class, watching someone stumble and/or incorrectly explain a concept, experience or reading that they simply do not understand or know. It can be really painful having a conversation with someone out of class that does the same thing. This prompts some questions: why are students trying to explain a concept, experience or idea like they know it?
This behavior is not always the case. Many UC Berkeley students approach class and conversation with curiosity and question, with active ears ready to listen and thirsty for a discussion in or after class. But, on occasion, there is that one person who feels obliged to make a point or to answer a question with misled confidence. This is 110 percent unnecessary.
For instance, the discussion section in Dwinelle Hall with that one dude, who is seemingly in need of approval from the GSI, decides they should respond to a question. They do not have the answer to this question and have nothing insightful to add. But they go for it anyway. In performing this action, their response is:
1. Pretty annoying for most people in the class
2. A poor use of time
3. Requires the GSI to try to reconcile with this comment.
This person in some way felt the need to speak, to take up space, but lacked real depth failing to add real substance to the subject at hand. There was an urgency they felt to share their “knowledge” to fill the space with something other than a question. Perhaps if they raised their hands and asked a clarifying question or stated that they did not know what to think of the concept at hand, the class could have blossomed into a richer learning environment for everyone.
Much of the time at UC Berkeley, there can be a sort of stigma in the air about not knowing things. This is not the air that everyone breathes on this campus, but it does reach the lungs of some. Personally, this is air that I have choked on. But, we all have busy lives and juggle many things at once. It is impossible for us to know or even act like we know things that we do not. And that is OK! There is no need to pretend that we know something when we simply do not. Not knowing certain things gives us the opportunity to ask questions and engage with one another. And with the opportunity to learn concepts, ideas and experiences through an innocent curiosity, we become vessels of learning for each other.
Recognizing and reacting to things with “I don’t know” or seeking clarity through things we do not understand is a solid skill to have, and one that can always use some practice.
So, a big shout out to that classmate who confidently responds and occasionally proclaims, “I don’t know.” And an even bigger shout out to the peer who has enough confidence to ask for clarity. Your “I don’t know” and clarity-seeking selves are beneficial to everyone you are sharing the space with.