Why Honesty Should Be Our Best Policy

31 Jan

I arrive at my first class of second semester. The professor goes over the syllabus and then starts to cover the generalities of the course. He begins to use lingo particular to his area of study and then asks the class, “Are you familiar with the terms I’m using?” The class looks blankly back at him. When no one raises a hand, he continues to lecture.

Our unwillingness to admit when we don’t know an answer is a destructive tendency that inhibits our ability to learn. Social pressure, social norms, and the desire to fit in all fuel these natural tendencies. In a world that is increasingly competitive, who would happily admit to their faults in front of an entire class?

Nonetheless, communication is the only way we can learn. While it is essential that we use communication to convey the ideas and insights we are proud of, we must also be bold enough to use it to convey what we do not know. When it comes to our knowledge, honesty should be our best policy if we are going to work to better ourselves in the future.

by Jordan Gamble




2 Responses to “Why Honesty Should Be Our Best Policy”

  1. Jacob Trunsky February 1, 2012 at 2:33 am #

    Great blog, Jordan! I think that there are a lot of situations where people are reluctant to admit they do not know. I appreciate how you put this in the context of the classroom. As someone who is often hesitant to speak up in class, your post got me thinking about why I act in such a manner, especially at a school like Olin where we are taught to learn from each other and collaborate. In addition, many classes grade on participation, and in theory it should be the easiest grade to get! My thoughts transitioned from why we don’t speak up when we don’t know, to why we don’t speak up when we are uncertain, or even fairly confident in our responses.

    I found this article online (http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/12/‘it’s-time-to-raise-my-hand’/). I was really able to empathize with it, and there are some great tips on how to speak up in class, whether you are certain or uncertain in what you are saying.
    You could have looked at unwillingness to admit our lack of knowledge in a lot of different scenarios, but this post really hit home for me.

  2. Jordan Gamble February 11, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    Thanks so much for sharing the article Jacob! I found it to be refreshing to hear your perspective as well as the author of the article. I definitely understand where you are coming from. While I do participate in class, I still find myself thinking about if others are judging my responses or if what I said was correct. I think, no matter whether you participate in class or not, people still struggle with speaking in class the same way they struggle with public speaking.

    Thanks again for the feedback!

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