Increasing The Genius Quality – Wisdom
So far, in this Wednesday blog series about the 12 genius qualities, I’ve written about curiosity, playfulness, imagination, creativity, and wonder. (Links to these posts are at the bottom of this post.)
How do these qualities connect with and reinforce each other? Which one(s) do you respond most positively to? Which have you worked on developing further since reading a post? Which one(s) do you most see being awakened and growing in your children or teens? Why do you think that is?
The sixth quality identified by Dr. Armstrong is wisdom. Wisdom isn’t intelligence and it’s not the accumulation of knowledge. What is it?
I just provided a list review of previous information and knowledge, in part by using questions. Reviews and questions are positive ways to spark analysis and synthesis of details that we’ve learned already and to get us ready to learn more that we can process and apply later. These are parts in wisdom-making and application-building processes.
As I point out in my book Screens and Teens, knowledge is everywhere, wisdom doesn’t appear to be. I write, “While we’re mentioning wisdom, let’s remember that Christian parents will want to narrow a general definition of wisdom to a godly view of wisdom. Michael Youssef defines spiritual wisdom as “the ability to apply the Word of God accurately and correctly, not only in the believer’s life, but in the lives of others.” My friend, Patrick, teaches youth that wisdom is agreeing with God. I like that! Affirm your teens when you see them applying God’s wisdom—our Creator’s good intent and guidance for our lives.” (pages 193-194)
In the context of Dr. Armstrong’s research into the genius qualities, he defines wisdom this way:
Wisdom: to experience the wonder of the world directly, without the blinders of preconceptions and clichés
As I continue the blog, Tina Hollenbeck is going to take over. She challenges us to understand why this genius quality may be lacking. This concerns me greatly. I hope you’re concerned, curious, and that you’ll keep reading. (Please share this with others if you, too, value these thoughts.)
Are We Wise?
No doubt about it, we live in a knowledge-saturated culture. We can easily access information about any conceivable topic 24/7/365, usually with only one or two clicks of a mouse. And as a result, we tend to believe we are a wise people. After all, if wisdom and knowledge are synonymous, our society is replete with it.
The problem is that wisdom and knowledge are not synonyms. Knowledge is information – facts and opinions we’ve already learned or can discover about a topic. As a culture, we’re overwhelmed with an ability to gain knowledge. But knowledge is only one part of wisdom.
From the beginning of time and across cultures, wisdom has actually been defined as “applied knowledge.” Thus, wisdom entails much more than simple acquisition of information. In fact, in order to be wise, a person must take two crucial steps beyond gaining knowledge:
- Parse through all the information to discover the nuggets of truth therein, discarding the rest;
- Choose to apply that truth to one’s life in order to achieve a specific goal or purpose.
Are We Foolish?
When we look at it that way, it’s fair to say that our culture – and many of us individually – are actually foolish most of the time. For one thing, we don’t relish taking the time to weed through information. We also live in a time when we’ve been (incorrectly) led to believe that truth is relative, not absolute; thus, we struggle to find truth even when we seek it. And, finally, we have a hard time wanting to diligently work toward the changes that application of truth would necessitate, often preferring the path of least resistance instead.
But if we don’t apply the truths found within the knowledge at our fingertips, we cannot gain wisdom. If we choose to discount wisdom in our own lives, we cannot adequately facilitate its acquisition in our children.
Obviously, that concept warrants serious consideration in our own lives as adults. And we can’t legitimately expect our children to be wise if we’re unwilling to engage in the process ourselves. “Do as I say, not as I do” falls flat every time. But it’s crucial for our kids and for our culture that we help children grow toward wisdom with us; we can’t wait until we “have it all together” before we begin to address it with our children.
One simple technique we can use in many situations with our kids is to actively walk them through wisdom-growing questions:
- What do you know about this situation?
- Of everything you know, what one or two truths can you pull out?
- How do you believe these truths line up with Scripture?
- How can you put one or more of these truths into practice right now?
- What can I do to help?
Working through this process will cause kids to pause and think, plus role model that they don’t always have to seek wisdom alone. Doing it on a regular basis will develop in them a habit of mind that enables them to begin asking themselves these questions automatically, and that will grow them toward wisdom over time. Given the truth that wisdom is a genius quality, isn’t that something we’d want to do?
I’m grateful for Tina Hollenbeck’s support and friendship.
In addition to homeschooling her own children, Tina Hollenbeck directs The Homeschool Resource Roadmap and a Facebook group for homeschoolers.
She enjoys providing useful information and encouragement to those called to educate their own children. In addition to writing for our newsletter, she also co-authored Celebrating Children’s 12 Genius Qualities with me and Brad Sargent.
Check out other blogs in this series: