Ever heard of the saying that we were not born with ignorance, but we were taught to be ignorant? This popular phrase seems to miss the point entirely. In reality, we were not born with an innate understanding of everything, which means we entered this world ignorant.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the following: If we have not personally experienced war, conflict, abuse, discrimination, or mental health challenges, can we truly comprehend what it feels like? The answer is a resounding “no.” Full comprehension comes from firsthand experience, not from innate knowledge acquired at birth.

The consequences of this lack of understanding manifest themselves in various ways, with one prominent example being widespread ignorance. Ignorance doesn’t arise from being indoctrinated or taught to think in a particular way; rather, it stems from a fundamental lack of understanding. Ignorance, simply put, is the absence of knowledge, understanding, or information about a given subject.

Sadly, this lack of understanding is pervasive across the globe. Consider how groups of people are often subjected to baseless hatred for nonsensical reasons. Take, for instance, individuals who follow the Islamic faith. Many mistakenly believe that the teachings of the Quran advocate for extreme beliefs, despite the fact that the teachings of the Quran closely align with those of the Christian Bible and the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh). Similarly, non-Israeli Jews, like myself, are unjustly labeled as bad people solely due to the reprehensible actions of the Israeli government and the IDF, over which we have no control. The same applies to non-Orthodox Israeli Jews, who face discrimination within Israel due to differing interpretations of their faith. Persecuted Christians are often assumed to only exist in Asian and African regions, but discrimination against Christians occurs in the Americas as well. These examples highlight a distorted notion that everyone should conform to a single way of thinking.

The list of marginalized groups could go on indefinitely, until eventually, everyone would fall into one of these categories. This is the ultimate consequence of ignorance—an abundance of hatred and division. However, is it not understandable why ignorance prevails?

During our formative years, we are required to attend school in most countries. School is considered a place of education, a setting where we learn and experience. Education—a beautiful word that evokes a sense of enthusiasm. Unfortunately, for the majority of schools worldwide, the reality falls short of this ideal. Instead of being educational institutions, they have become mere places of schooling. The curriculum has failed to keep pace with the changing world, rendering much of what we are taught irrelevant in today’s society.

Consider mathematics, often regarded as the most detested subject in school due to its complexity and perceived lack of practicality. In reality, 99% of the mathematical knowledge we acquire in school will never be utilized in our adult lives. Even the teachers themselves, despite being experts in the subject, resort to calculators during class (based on personal experience). Physical Education (P.E.) often ranks as the second most disliked subject, contributing to the decline in physical activity among students. The reality is that most of the activities emphasized in P.E., such as football, tennis, badminton, and basketball, are pursued by only a select few individuals throughout their lives. Moreover, P.E. classes often erode the self-confidence of many children, as a few students excel physically while the majority cannot compare.

The problem with the school system is not difficult to identify. Schools primarily exist to provide a safe space for children as adults prioritize work, making the world inherently unsafe. However, as adults have become more consumed by work, the world itself has become progressively less secure. A striking example of this shift is how our grandparents could freely play outside without constant parental supervision at the age of seven, while modern children of the same age require continuous monitoring. Remarkably, little has changed in the past century. The true site of education lies outside the confines of school walls. All the knowledge schools attempt to impart was once discovered in the external world, not within the four walls of a classroom.

This brings us back to the question of whether the prevalence of ignorance is understandable. The answer is an unequivocal “yes.” In our present reality, schools are the sole bastions of education, where teaching is conducted in a singular manner deemed acceptable. From early on, we are conditioned to think and believe in a certain way, and this conditioning continues throughout our lives. In this sense, the opening statement is accurate in both interpretations: we are born without understanding, and we are taught to remain stagnant.