The Wisdom of ...

(This post continues on with my series of posts on my research and design for a wisdom curriculum for pre-k through college)


While pondering wisdom this past week, I did a quick search of book titles that begin with the expression “The Wisdom of …”  As expected, this search revealed dozens of titles. Here are a few highlights:

The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many are Smarter than the Few
The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers can Teach Us about Success
The Wisdom of Narnia (a reference to C.S. Lewis’ fictional land)
The Wisdom of a Broken Heart: How to Turn the Pain of a Breakup into Healing, Insight, and New Love
The Wisdom of Dogs

We have all heard expressions like these before.  The expression, the wisdom of … is tossed around in our culture all the time.  The wisdom of x.  The wisdom of y. The wisdom of z.  Are these expressions legitimate?  

What do they really mean and what can this teach us about the pursuit of a wisdom curriculum?  

Let us devote a little time to pondering these examples:  Is it fair to refer to the wisdom of sports?  

Does it make sense to say the wisdom of trees?  The wisdom of dogs? of bees? of three-year-olds?


If I am looking at the wisdom of all these different things, is the way we use 'the wisdom of' essentially similar to how we would say 'the nature of ...'?

The wisdom of dogs.  The nature of dogs. 
The wisdom of sports.  The nature of sports. 
The wisdom of three-year-olds.  The nature of three-year-olds. 
The wisdom of bees.  The nature of bees.

Hmmm.  They don't really seem to mean the same thing.  So how exactly are they different?  Let us explore this through the example of sports.

When I think of the wisdom of sports versus the nature of sports, I definitely feel that they are two distinct things.  By ‘the nature of sports’ we are referring to the rules, the field, essentially, the structure of this cultural event - how the sports function.  When we consider ‘the wisdom of sports,’ we seem to be referring to the wealth of knowledge that lies within the participation in (and perhaps observation of) the sport. 

Let us revisit the list above, where we compare ‘wisdom’ verse ‘nature.’  What is the nature of bees, three-year-olds, trees, and dogs?  How does that compare to the wisdom of bees, three-year-olds, trees, and dogs? 

I am going to take some time this week - and I encourage you to join me - to take some time this week to consider the 'nature of' versus the 'wisdom of.'  Do this for any and all sorts of things you come across.  Pick a few of your favorite and jot them down. Post in the comments if you want to share.  I will do the same.  Let us see if any insights emerge.