Quotes: David Brooks on Learning

In light of the upcoming release of David Brooks‘s new book The Social Animal I asked Mr. Brooks in the New Yorker live chat his opinion concerning school education. And if intelligence should be measured in a different way. His answer:

they need to realize that intelligence is a very small part of human flourishing. Social awareness is another part, and this does not correlate with intelligence. Mental virtue is another part: are you able to calibrate the strength of your opinions to the strength of the evidence; are you able to doubt yourself.

Schools need to spend more time building the emotional relationship between the teacher the pupils. They also need to understand the relationship between reach and reciprocity.

There is a natural rhythm to learning. there have to be phases when you laboriously master the facts of a field. These have to be lodged in the brain, so they can restructure the way people see the world. (Economists learn to think like economists). But then there have to be periods of riotous free play when two different worldviews clash inside the cranium–when economic crashes into literature for example–like two galaxies crashing into each other.

Creativity comes when two mind-spaces meld. And the creativity burbles up unconsciously and then emerges with the force, how shall I put this, or an orgasm.

There’s a fine book called “On Certainty” about this process when unconscious processes finally produce that feeling we get when a bright idea explodes into consciousness.


I think the book that he means should be On Being Certain from Robert Burton. Or could he really have meant Wittgenstein‘s On Certainty?….By the way check out his latest article in the New Yorker, it’s phenomenal.

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