Knowledge or Inspiration

Knowledge or Inspiration

It may seem like a trivial question at first, but those people I asked were varied in their responses nearly 50/50. It got me thinking, which is never a good thing, but perhaps the deeper question isnt whether people would rather be educated or inspired (which would inform teachers as to whether they should focus more on content or delivery), but instead what is the underlying motivation behind the preference for one of the other?

Answering the latter gives us a glimpse of the psyche of the individual in question. Perhaps the two are always in flux. As the scales tip away from knowledge and inspiration makes gains (though these two arent necessarily correlated) the desire for learning out-weighs the need for motivation. Conversely, as inspiration wanes and knowledge increases, it would seem an intuitive that individuals desire a renewed sense of drive.

However, highly motivated people would probably tend to inspire themselves (Im using the two terms interchangeably) and therefore seek more knowledge more often. To expand on this lets characterize the possible combinations and what they mean.

  1. High Inspiration; High Education (Over Achiever)
  2. Low Inspiration; High Education (Slacker)
  3. High Inspiration; Low Education (Dreamer, religious nut)
  4. Low Inspiration; Low Education (Sheep)

Okay, so the labels I applied are just for fun, so dont read too much in to them. A person with a balance of either high education and inspiration or low education and inspiration are equivalent in that their net desire for either is neutral. The other two cases, where the individual has a higher desire for knowledge or inspiration than the other respectively, probably yield more interesting hypotheses. Yes, we are talking about the slacker and the dreamer.

The slacker, isnt actually a slacker. In my survey people who desired more inspiration uniformly responded that they have plenty of knowledge or could get it efficiently and inspiration was more rare. People who responded to my questioning with this answer tended to give longer and more well thought out answers. It was almost as though they were seeking to justify their reasoning to me. It was very interesting to me because Id probably answer with a greater desire for inspiration.

Others who responded that theyd prefer more education to more inspiration all had the same answer too. It was always approximately that they are already inspired and have something they wish to learn more about so they can put their desires through to fruition.

Half of the respondents seemed to be searching for challenges to engage and the other half were looking for information to solve challenges they were already engaged in. In the end one of my friends, Ryan, said it best (forgive me for paraphrasing): knowledge without inspiration is pointless, but inspiration without knowledge is useless.

Obviously, the two are linked (indeterminately, but linked none-the-less), but in asking the question I may have learned something new about each and every respondent. That is to say, which question is more interesting to them at that given moment: How? or Why?

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