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It’s All An Illusion

Being a teacher, it’s my job to seem knowledgeable. Ideally, you should have students asking this question every so often: “Wow, it seems like you know everything. Is there anything you don’t know?” Obviously you don’t always manage to be teaching those things (I was in an esthetics classroom the other day – yikes), but students will trust you more if you are seldom wrong.

Of course, I come by this honestly in regards to music. Spend thousands of both dollars and hours on learning to read, play, listen to, and conduct music and one hopes you managed to internalize a few things. However, there’s lots of room for other topics that students will naturally be curious about that you can’t always prepare for with a university degree and dedicated study. So. How do you do it?

Read.

Here I don’t mean taking out large technical books from the library and memorizing the newest theory of quantum mechanics. I surf the Internet daily, and I read whatever catches my eye. There are several sites out there that collect all sorts of random news and events in different categories. In one day, I can go from following the latest in the American presidential campaign, to the current standing of my own province’s negotiations with the teachers’ union I belong to, to the most whimsical experiments with lasers in the world of science.

You would think that in an Internet-savvy era, where children have been brought up knowing a world where the Internet was ubiquitous, that students and colleagues alike would share this ease of access to information. There is the occasional student who knows exactly what I know from reading online and is able to comment on various world events. But by and large, the Internet to them is not about information, it’s about socializing. The rampant rise of social media has distracted many people from the other abilities the Internet has.

Don’t mistake me – the Internet’s ability to socially connect a group of people even at long distance is amazing. I can talk, joke, debate, or even play friendly games with someone halfway around the world in a heartbeat. However, the natural ease with which people say the next generation takes to the Internet is not a universal phenomenon.

Think of your own Internet usage. What percentage of that is spent reading something that isn’t related to a social interaction? You can probably cut that fraction in half or even less for the average young person today. And it makes sense! These individuals are trying to discover who they are, and the Internet allows them to try and find people who are just like them. It is also, however, a great tool for self-education.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m going to let the cat out of the bag the next time I’m asked.

“Sir, how come you know all that?”

“Teachers just know everything, Jimmy.”

Ah, the magic of the Internet. Now off to look at some amusing cat pictures…

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