GRE Issue Essay 74

“We can usually learn much more from people whose views we share than from people whose views contradict our own; disagreement can cause stress and inhibit learning.”

Any kind of learning needs a favorable environment. Where there is conflict amongst people it only results in commotion. I believe that although there is a lot that we can learn from every situation and people around us, it is a general attitude of people to dismiss the ideas of someone who has a contrary view. According to the given statement, we can learn a lot more from people with whom we share our views rather than from those who hold contradicting views. I, however, feel that there is a great scope of learning from people who hold different views as well. Nonetheless, we are not ready for this type of learning because our ego comes in the way. Disagreement causes stress, tension and commotion, but we should try to rise above this and benefit from the experiences of others who we disagree with.

Birds of a feather flock together. We join the company of people who share the same views as ours. Thus, there are increased chances that we listen to what others have to say instead of getting involved in an argument. This makes a perfect environment for positive learning and we get influenced by the ideas of others. There is no inhibition among such people and a mutual rapport is established. However, the scope of this type of learning is limited. It ends where the views are exchanged. When one person is at the receiving end and agrees to all the views of the learned person, he does not question his knowledge. On the other hand, there is a greater scope of learning from someone who has different ideas than you.

When people holding different views come together, they argue over a certain issue. We cannot take it for granted that we are always right. What seems to be correct to us may be wrong for someone else. Therefore, in an argument we come across different views and interpretations of the same issue. There could be sides of looking at the issue which do not strike to one person, but these can come out only in an argument where people present views that are different from those of yours.

Another example of a great social worker is that of Mother Teresa. She is known for her concern towards the poor, sick and underprivileged. She has given a definition to humanity, charity and compassion. Even though there are millions who claim to appreciate her, there aren’t many Mother Teresas around. So much so that we even ignore our basic social responsibility of charity. ‘Charity begins at home,’ is a dictum for everyone but ourselves; we do not even bother about the financial well-being of our domestic helps. We are so self-centered and engrossed in our own lives that we seldom practice what we know should be correct. We celebrate the birth and death anniversaries of great men, celebrate the official holidays on such significant days, attend chat shows, hold discussions…we do it all but only for the moment. This shows that the influence of great men on our minds and actions is merely superficial. We ‘claim’ to admire them but do not prove the same in our actions.

Let us take an example of a simple classroom. If the students learn everything that the teacher teaches them without asking their doubts or questions, they become passive learners. On the other hand, if the students try to figure out the problem on their own, they will come up with doubts and questions. They might not agree with their teacher on a certain topic for which they can initiate a discussion. It is only in such a discussion that a real clarification of the topic comes out. This type of learning is detailed, effective and lasting.

A new discovery or invention comes to light only when someone disagrees with the norms and tries to prove his point. It is only when someone refused to believe that earth is stationary and that Sun revolves around the earth that efforts were made to discover the truth.

Disagreement surely causes stress if the criticism is taken in a negative way. Instead we should welcome criticism positively and try to learn from the ideas of others. It is a matter of attitude that can change the way people think. If you are ready to welcome contradicting views and accept different ideas, it will increase your knowledge manifold.