I was fortunate enough to hear this unique prompt a couple years ago.
Write an essay on all the things you don’t know.
I Don’t Know a lot
by: C. Alise Johnson
So you ask me what I don’t know, well first off I don’t know how to fit all of this into a 150-word essay. I suppose I’ll jump right in. I don’t know the periodic table of elements, how to split an atom, or if there is even such a thing as global warming. I don’t know the quadratic formula, the unit circle, and I sure as hell don’t know the significance of “imaginary numbers” in math class. I can’t speak Navajo, I never learned how to parallel park a car, or even change a tire. I do not know how to perform open-heart surgery, I can’t start a campfire by myself, and I can’t fly a plane. I don’t know who shot JFK, I don’t know what’s in the missing minutes of the Watergate tapes, or who built the Pyramids in Egypt. I don’t know how to dance the Foxtrot, play the flute, or what’s in Taco Bell meat. I don’t know why the crime rate in the U.S. is so high, I don’t know why terrible things happen to nice people, and I don’t know the cure for cancer.
The list goes on, but for both of our sake it will end there for now. A wise woman by the name of Anatole France wrote, “An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t.” I have clearly not learned a lot in twelve years of school. I think that the list of things I have learned might surprise you. I took a philosophy class in my last year of high school. In this class I learned how to learn. I didn’t learn the answers to the things I claimed to not know but rather, I learned the relevance of these things in the long run. So yes, I don’t know the map of the world like the back of my hand, how to time travel, or the structure of DNA in a pig. I also don’t know what it’s like to be the smartest person in a classroom. After 18 years of living my life I want to learn all those things. I pride myself on being an intellectual. Finding out the reasons behind answers is what fascinates me. So to continue not knowing things would be fine with me as long as I had the opportunity to find those answers.