04 December 2007

Can Wisdom be Measured?

What if there was a way to qualify learning that is both formal and informal. It doesn't seem right that post-secondary institutions have the almighty power to legitimize what you know or have learned. The process is flawed. It doesn't take into account previous learning, experience, exposure to the world, etc. Earning a BA does not make you 'wise'. Earning a Masters or PhD does not make you 'wise'. A combination of life-long and life-wide learning makes you 'smart and intelligent and wise'. How can this be documented and translated into a recognized record of 'how-smart-you-really-are-today? Could this be indexed? What would that look like? Could it be a scoring system? Could you get credit for travel, volunteerism, languages, credit and non-credit education, work experience, entrepreneurship, parenthood, hobbies, etc?

Why not? Isn't this a better representation of the person, the whole person? Would your score increase with age? Sure, if you see, learn and do more, not just because you're aging. What about new university grads, will their scores be low? Perhaps, but if they haven't done anything but attend school, should they really consider themselves to be wise?

There definitely is a need to look at more than formal education. When you look at employment postings, certain education levels are a requirement to even be considered as an applicant. That's nuts! It's not until after you get the job that your past experience comes into focus in your pay rating. How weird is that?


Intelligence:(courtesy of Wikipedia) is a property of the mind that encompasses many related abilities, such as the capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn. There are several ways to define intelligence. In some cases, intelligence may include traits such as creativity, personality, character, knowledge, or wisdom.

Smart:(wordnet.princeton) showing mental alertness and calculation and resourcefulness

Wisdom:(courtest of Wikipedia) according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is defined as the "1 a: Accumulated philosophic or scientific learning-knowledge; b: Ability to discern inner qualities and relationships-insight; c: Good sense-judgment d: Generally accepted belief . d: A wise attitude, belief, or course of action. e: The teachings of the ancient wise men".

Most psychologists regard wisdom as distinct from the cognitive abilities measured by standardized intelligence tests. Wisdom is often considered to be a trait that can be developed by experience, but not taught. When applied to practical matters, the term wisdom is synonymous with prudence. Some see wisdom as a quality that even a child, otherwise immature, may possess independent of experience or complete knowledge. The status of wisdom or prudence as a virtue is recognized in cultural, philosophical and religious sources. Some define wisdom in a utilitarian sense, as foreseeing consequences and acting to maximize the long-term common good.

As such, in general, wisdom is looked at in his/her ideals and principles that govern all actions and decisions. Applications of personal wisdom include one's ethical and social guidelines in life that determines one’s unique style of personality, the particular nature of short and long-term goal(s) pursued in life (spiritual or materialistic for example), perspective on life, social attitudes, etc.

Nicholas Maxwell, a modern philosopher, argued that the basic aim of academic inquiry ought to be to seek and promote wisdom — wisdom being construed to be the capacity to realize what is of value in life for oneself and others, wisdom thus including knowledge and technological know-how, but much else besides.

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