Sunday, August 31, 2008

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER?

Let’s look at some sayings which we may have accepted as true. Things can sound plausible and we may agree with them or an aspect of them, but they may or may not be absolute truths.

Here is one: KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Is this true? Is it true all the time? Is it true in some cases?

What is power and what is knowledge? The close examination of the meanings of these words can raise as many questions as answers. What is regarded as power to one person may mean nothing to another. If we define power as energy, then we may get into a quantifiable scientific proving ground and then we can discover how to apply knowledge and get good results and evaluate those results. If knowledge is that which is known, we should definitely take a look at the validity of the knowledge.

Knowledge that the earth is flat was at one time considered as an absolute truth. As we investigate, explore, analyze and test, we discover evidence and actualities and tendencies and trends of outcomes.

Could it be more true, or at least more workable, to say that KNOWLEDGE IS POTENTIAL POWER? Knowledge which has evidentiary proof through scientific testing could have the potentiality of creating power, if it is precisely applied to an exact situation in a controlled environment. KNOWLEDGE may be more of a kinetic energy, when gained by a person who is capable of understanding and using the information which has been studied and learned.

If you knew how a lawn mower engine worked and all the parts and functions and fuel and lubricants, and your mower would not start, could you get it to start, by simply understanding it? In some cases, yes, such as if it were out of gas but what if the spark plug needed to be replaced or something deeper in the engine were wrong? Here we get into the necessity of knowing, skillfully and intelligent applying and to go one step further, having enough experience and intelligence to rectify an undesirable situation.

The same could be said for an atomic bomb. You could know everything there is to making one, but if you do not have the material, the tools, and the experience, you only have the potential of the power of that bomb. Even after you would theoretically make it, it would still be potential until such time it were detonated. An extreme example, you could say, but it nevertheless proves the point.

What is the point?

1) Knowing how to do something is a step in the right direction but is not the entire solution.
2) Applying what you know (and doing it precisely) is a step in the right direction.
3) Consistently practicing at least six days out of seven may be much more effective that two or three or four. Over a long enough period of time, a level of competency may be reached. If this is an activity in athletics or the arts or both, history tells us that the best in the world have studied and practiced and have gained even more by working with the best that they could find.

Knowledge has the potential of the potential of power. If you practice the wrong thing or even the right thing in the wrong way you cannot count on a good or an optimum result. You may get worse. You may stay at the same level. I personally knew a trumpet player who practiced the same thing every day and he did so in a disciplined manner. He was on a plateau and as long as I knew him, he did not improve. He maintained a level of amateur mediocrity and as a result he did not tour with my band. I liked the guy and we all got along, but he could not handle his part at the level we needed and wanted for the band.

I am on a continual quest for truth and for statistical evidence of the effectiveness of the application of what appears to be true or what has worked well for the most people. This why I teach what I teach and is why I teach how I teach. I look at a student as an individual, without preconceived notions as to how the person should sound and help guide the student toward a professional level result that can be counted on day in and day out. If the student applies the knowledge, the results can be professional, if not phenomenal.