In our culture, not to know is to be at fault socially… People pretend to know lots of things they don’t know. Because the worst thing to do is appear to be uninformed about something, to not have an opinion… We should know the limits of our knowledge and understand what we don’t know, and be wiling to explore things we don’t know without feeling embarrassed of not knowing about them.
~ Sir Ken Robinson
“I don’t know” must be one of the most stigmatized sentences in the history of languages. Yet, these simple words are the gate to mind expansion, discovery and thereby growth. Embracing the possibility of not knowing is the first step into exploring and eventually knowing. I couldn’t put it any better than Wislawa Szymborska, 1996 Nobel prize in literature when he says:
This is why I value that little phrase “I don’t know” so highly. It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended. If Isaac Newton had never said to himself “I don’t know,” the apples in his little orchard might have dropped to the ground like hailstones and at best he would have stooped to pick them up and gobble them with gusto. Had my compatriot Marie Sklodowska-Curie never said to herself “I don’t know”, she probably would have wound up teaching chemistry at some private high school for young ladies from good families, and would have ended her days performing this otherwise perfectly respectable job.
That is why I decided to create an “I don’t know” manifesto, so we can all remember that it’s ok Not to know, we just have to adopt the right attitude about it.
“I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said, “I don’t know.””