Webster dictionary defines ignorance as lack of knowledge, learning or information. It defines stupid as mentally slow.
Whether we wish to admit it or not, we are all ignorant of some things because no one knows it all. We may know or have learned a little about a lot of things but no one has all the answers about everything. If we wish to remain ignorant of certain subjects then that should be our call and our call alone. For those of us who do not wish to remain ignorant, we must then begin to ask questions and be willing to learn from as many people as we can regardless of their education level or social status. Wisdom is not something that you are born with; it is cultivated and grows as we grow. It’s the richness which helps to build our character because refusing to listen and learns only reward is to remain ignorant. All in all, ignorance is not a bad thing because even if we choose to stay ignorant we can still learn so at any time we decide to stop being ignorant, we can.
Stupid, on the other hand, is another matter. I contend that stupid is more like the ability not to be able to learn, so to that end no one is stupid. Even those whom we see as mentally challenged are not stupid. They can and do learn some things just not like those we have come to see as teachable. Many times we think someone is stupid just because they wish not to believe the way we believe. We think they are stupid because they speak in a manner that we would not speak or they differ in the way they address situations than we do. Has anyone ever thought that those we see as stupid may be that way because we are ignorant? I mean, everyone is teachable; we just have to find a way to better bring the knowledge. If we stay stuck on any particular way of delivering information and refuse to modify or adapt our lesson plans to suit those who need this information the worst, then is it not our ignorance which compounds the problem. It is our ignorance because we decline to learn another way to disseminate.
I have been very guilty of labeling someone else as stupid in my lifetime but nothing made me more aware of the power of that word when I heard it used by my child. She was just about convinced that she was stupid because others at school had informed her. She was stupid because everyone in class understood the teacher’s directions except for her. She was stupid because she asked a lot of questions and the teacher got annoyed because she tried to explain it to my child to no avail. The situation was quickly rectified when she got home because as her parents we knew exactly how to explain it to her so that now she gets it fine. No one should ever be labeled stupid because we all can learn.
I think that starting at age 4; children should be taught, by those in the home, the difference between ignorance and stupidity. I think that parents should make sure that their children understand that neither they nor any other child is stupid, that they can learn and that they will figure it out on their own terms. We should not allow anyone to walk around with that label and if we see it, remove it immediately. Nothing can demean a soul quicker than thinking that they are less than those around them. We are all teachable unless we choose not to be.