Knowledge for its own sake: A worthy pastime

David Madill

In the past, an enquiring mind was persecuted and ignored. Despite the fact that these minds are the foundation of our modern life, this trend still continues. Artists, athletes and musicians are glorified because they pursue their callings-art, sports and music-for their own sakes. Why then, since the beginning of modern science, has the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake been looked down upon.
From an early age, to love to learn is to be different. To work in excess of one’s schoolwork is to label oneself an outcast. While other children learn to play piano or shoot a basketball, one who learns algebra in elementary school is called socially deficient, a nerd and a geek.

This continues into high school, where schools all over America are doing away with the class ranking system while a resounding victory over a rival football team is celebrated.

Why the hypocrisy? Why is a victory in a physical sport more important than an intellectual feat? Yet these same schools proclaim their “pursuit of academic excellence.”

For centuries, intellectual excellence has been looked down upon. Just ask Galileo, Aristotle or Socrates. Their work, now the foundations of modern science, was the cause of their exile, persecution and even death. Yet we hold them in high esteem today.

So I urge you: look around and find those who push themselves past the boundaries of normal schoolwork. If you are one of those people, don’t stop!

Harvard graduate and news writer, Leonid Fridman, was right when he said, “America needs its nerds”. They are the future, not only for this generation and this country, but also for generations to come and for the whole world.


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