An Introduction.


I have turned the idea of a new blog over and over in my brain for months, and talked myself out of every idea or inspiration for it’s contents -until I was assigned a blog. I could blog about anything I want, about anything I desire- personal, professional, or passionate. With this assignment I was no longer allowed to talk myself out of writing- it was expected. I went through my list of possible topics that have accumulated over the course of the last few years and gave each a fighting chance, before settling here, on an inquiry based blog.

The idea behind “You Never Know” came from an undergrad class back in 2011. My professor projected this image in relation to our knowledge of teaching:

Image result for things you dont know you dont know

This image confused many of my classmates, and scared a few, but it excited me. The professor started with the green. She explained that this pie piece is representative of the things that each of us know, without a doubt. We know our names, we know how to read, we know where we live. But it is also full of all of the things we have learned. For some, this green portion is filled with formulas, or scientific facts. For me, this is literary criticisms, favorite poems, names of authors, genres, etc. Simply speaking green represents everything we have every learned and still know.

The blue, which is slightly larger than the green, represents everything that we are aware that we don’t know. For instance, I am aware that I don’t know how to solve advanced mathematics questions, or how to operate on a human body. I KNOW that I don’t know how to play lacrosse (or most sports for that matter). These pie pieces represents all of the ways in which people are capable of growth with inquiry.

The RED is the most exciting portion of this pie. 3/4 of this graph represents all of the things in this world that we have no idea that we don’t know. These are things that are taught by experiences we have never had, or people that we have never met, or simply questions we have never asked or been asked. The red is the purpose for this blog.

Every day I get asked questions from students or peers that fall into each of these categories. Students ask, “What is a hyperbole,” and I can answer quickly because that is something that I know that I know. Students ask, “when did the Special Olympics start?” and  I know that I don’t have the correct answer on hand. (Though I immediately researched it- 1960’s). But at least once a week, if not once a day, someone asks me a question that falls in the red- for instance “Ms. Simmons, I know that we use salt to melt ice, but does salt, itself, melt?” I had never in my life wondered that or thought about the properties of salt, until that moment. I had no idea that I didn’t know.

In moments like these I am going to start learning. Questions in the red allow for growth and understanding about portions of our world about which I am otherwise ignorant. My goal is to no longer accept my own ignorance, but to use it to better my self and to broaden my world.

Here’s to demolishing ignorance!

3 thoughts on “An Introduction.

  1. Hi Cara,

    This is a wonderful piece. The red portion of the things we do not know really represent just that huge number of things each and everyone of us do not know are there, true and even exist until we learn or meet them face value. These things such as skating and gymnastic for example, were things I have never heard of when I was in Africa because they are not common sport activities if at all they exist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Super fantastic! I have used a similar analogy (without the pie chart) when I give talks about cultural competency. My best (most embarrassingly horrifying) example of not knowing what I didn’t know took place on Pine Ridge (at the time – and possibly still – the 3rd poorest Native American reservation). While staying there, some of the Elders took me to a cemetery. As I wandered around, I started picking up what to me appeared to be trash (cigarette butts, candy wrappers, scraps of fabric). Suddenly one of the Elders came running over begging me to stop picking up scared objects. He explained that what I thought was trash, were actually sacred objects left as gifts to the dead (tobacco, sweets, cloth). He was very kind about it, but I was horrified at what I’d done. I look forward to reading more about what you share with us through this blog this semester. Great theme!!!!!!!


  2. Love the theme as well! Very creative and reflective.

    As I reflect, one particular time comes to mind about not knowing…or rather not being aware of my selection of words. I recall working with a class of adults during a summer institute when I began a “Writing Into The Day” activity. Based on a recommendation from a colleague the summer before, I decided to use a video by Anis Mojgani — “Shake the Dust”, to introduce Slam Poetry to the class. I remember feeling a little nervous prior to introducing and showing video due to some of the language and content of the poem, but utterly excited all the same. As I introduced the video, I ask the question, “Anyone ever heard of Slam?” Several heads swung back and forth, but there in the middle of the group was a hand in the air. I was thrilled at the possibility that someone would have knowledge of this writing style and possibly attempt to write some Slam. Before starting the video, I explained that my goal was to introduce Slam Poetry to the group. BUT in no way would I want anyone to feel offended. I attempted to make the group feel more comfortable able the content, but it’s what happened next that changed the course of the class…it was then that the phrase, “words are just words” slipped from my lips…this phrase sparked a fire in one particular scholar that I’ll aways remember. During that writing session a Slam Poem would be born correcting my error…a true work of art that will forever make me more aware of the words that I choose. While I felt horrible that the scholar objected to my phrase (even though I don’t recall those exact words), I’m so glad that is what she heard.


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