Gabriel McCreath

Creative Editor

Last semester, while I was listening to a lecture, the professor pointed to a spot on a blank map of the world and asked us what country she was pointing to. As I sheepishly listened to my classmates chime in with the name of the country, I skimmed from kindergarten through high school graduation in my memory, and realized that I had never had a single childhood class session devoted to geography—not the world, not North America, not even the 50 United States. It dawned on me that I had some serious catching-up to do. 

After class, I found a few geography games online to play. I figured it would be a fun and low-stakes way to teach myself the information that I was lacking. Geography is well outside my “comfort zone” of topics to study, but I could feel myself improving even after just a couple rounds of guessing. Most importantly, though—and forgive the dramatic tone—it reminded me why I initially sought a liberal arts education.

We all have our own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to knowledge and learning. For a variety of reasons—childhood education, neurodiversity, specialized interests and more—everyone comes into college with a different set of skills and areas of expertise. But in order to cultivate empathy and respect for one another, it’s important that we learn things outside of our comfort zones. When we get to know someone who comes from a distinct background different from our own, having even just a little bit of knowledge about their context can aid in forging a connection. Sometimes, not knowing can be a barrier to a relationship. Willfully resigning ourselves to lifelong ignorance would be irresponsible and disrespectful, especially when we have access to all sorts of information through our institution, our social networks and, of course, the internet.

If, like me, there are a few areas of knowledge that your earlier education left you feeling behind in, there are steps you can take to learn more. Educational games are a great and fun option—although consistent practice is key! You can also take or audit a class in an area outside of your expertise, check out a book or two from the library or even ask friends who know more on the subject than you to catch you up to speed. For every subject I feel like I know nothing about, there is always another person out there who seems to know everything about it.

Lacking knowledge isn’t something to feel ashamed about. Most people are not going to be “Jeopardy!” champions. But taking initiative to learn new things outside of our comfort zones can go a long way in creating a compassionate and respectful world.

Written by

Zach Perrier

Zach Perrier is a Viewpoints Editor for the Wooster Voice. He is from Mentor, Ohio and currently is a junior History major.