John Mulaney, "I don't Know"

After months of anticipation, I finally took the time to watch John Mulaney’s second standup routine on Netflix titled John Mulaney: Comeback Kid. I am not usually the type to find humor in standup comedy, but after watching John Mulaney: New in Town over a year ago, I decided to reconsider. Anyway, as Mulaney breezes through his act, he says something that strikes me in a place other than my funny bone. Mulaney was poking fun at the fact that many teachers in elementary schools often require students to explain their answers. Although I see the reasoning in making kids give an explanation behind certain questions, Mulaney makes an additional point that I .

He states, “...In elementary school it doesn’t matter what you think, it matters what you know.” He continues by saying“...When your a little kid, you can’t say I don’t know.”

“I don’t know” tends to be considered an inadequate answer: a response that reflects a person’s indecisiveness or lack of knowledge on a particular subject area. In reality, though, “I don’t know” can be an acceptable answer in certain situations. Obviously, some questions need answers, but I do not think I should have to know everything. That’s what Google is for, right?

More importantly, I think John Mulaney pointed out a commonality in our education system that negatively effects the confidence of students. Why is it that “I don’t know” is frowned upon when given as a response? This may be a bit of a stretch, but I think, in appropriate circumstances, "I don't know" opens the door to gaining more knowledge. People should be comfortable admitting that they do not have all the answers. Yes, I realize that some students do not put in the effort to meet their full potential, but in certain circumstances, kids are afraid to speak their minds unless they are sure that they are right or that what they will say will be met with approval. No one should be embarrassed or uncomfortable for getting something wrong or for not knowing.

Currently, the United Stated is fifth in spending per student. The Slovak Republic spends half of that and still received scores that were similar to or exceeded the United States' scores on Programme for International Student Assessment in 2012.

Clearly, something is not working in our education system and I am not saying that John Mulaney figured it out, but I do think he was right to make fun of this trend. The United States should not focus on the quantity or resources and teachers, but rather the quality of them. The resources and methods utilized should raise the confidence, as well as the scores, of students.

Maybe this has nothing to do with our country's low ranking in education. It was just a thought.

I don't know.

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