When You Don’t Have a Clue

“I disagree with myself.” This is what a third-grade boy said in front of his math class during a discussion about even and odd numbers. He believed six was both even and odd. When one classmate presented counterevidence, he considered her point. “I didn’t think of it that way,” he said. “Thank you for bringing that up.”

This third grader was exhibiting intellectual humility—recognizing the limits of his knowledge and valuing the insight of someone else. In a culture in which confidence is admired and mistakes mocked, his admission is commendable. But does such intellectual humility have any real benefits for learning?

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