给毕业生的小建议:正视你的无知 | 双语阅读

2018-06-05 16:05:01 评论 3,007


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给毕业生的小建议:正视你的无知 | 双语阅读

During my last year at university, I panicked. I realised that I was about to be sent into the world almost entirely ignorant. (Commenters, please fill in own joke here.) I had half-absorbed a few tiny bits of western history, and I’d read and then mostly forgotten some German novels and poems. I knew nothing about science. I hadn’t the faintest idea how the world worked. I wasn’t even entirely sure what interest rates were.


Shortly before graduating, I confessed my anxieties to a high-powered thirtysomething at a dinner in London. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I knew nothing when I graduated either, so I’ve just kept learning. Now my employer is paying for me to study Arabic.” That same evening, I resolved to pursue a project of life-long learning. Twenty-five years on, I’m still ignorant, but still at it.


① confess [kən'fes] v. 忏悔;坦白;告解

例句: As long as we wish to confess all sins without exception, we are doing nothing else than to wish to leave nothing to God's mercy for pardon.


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Because I graduated in Britain, I missed out on the traditional American commencement ceremony at which a middle-aged bore intones, “You can be whatever you want to be.” Instead, a middle-aged bore droned on at us in Latin for an hour. But if any American university is still looking for a middle-aged-bore speaker this commencement season, here’s what I’d tell the graduates:


② intone [ɪn'təʊn] v. 缓慢庄重地说

例句: He quietly intoned several prayers.


③ drone [drəʊn] v. 混日子;(蜂,机械等)嗡嗡地响

例句: The politician droned out his speech.


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“After graduating, I decided to find out what interest rates were, so I began reading a newspaper I’d never opened before: the Financial Times. I kept going, hoping I’d eventually learn the thing I most wanted to know: why some people and countries were rich and others poor. In 1994, trying to accelerate the learning process, I joined the FT. I thought that after a few years I’d know enough to go on and do something more useful than journalism, but it never happened.


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“Like me back then, you are graduating almost entirely ignorant. This isn’t your fault. Your mostfecund educational years were aged nought to three, when your brain was fairly porous, but the opportunity was probably wasted. You then spent each school day surrounded by up to 30 other people, each with their own problems and ability levels. Since high school, you’ve been additionally handicapped by hormones, smartphones and early-morning starts.


④ fecund ['fekənd] adj. 生殖力旺盛的;多产的

例句: It has now become clear how extraordinarily fecund a decade was the 1890s.


⑤ porous ['pɔːrəs] adj. 多孔的;透水的;透气的

例句: The local limestone is so porous that all the rainwater immediately sinks below ground.


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“If you are graduating in a vocational or technical subject, then whatever you learnt is going out of date as I speak. Nor will you learn much more if you enter the ‘real world’ of business, because business isn’t the real world. Like any other activity, it’s just a compartment of it. At best, you might improve your people skills and learn some time- and place-restricted pieces of knowledge, such as how to market pallets in the US right now.


“In short, you’re going to have to keep learning all your life. Here are a few tips:


⑥ compartment [kəm'pɑː(r)tmənt] n.(铁路客车车厢分隔成的)隔间;分隔间

例句: Sometimes if I'm running off for a quick weekend, I designate a compartment of my wallet, and throw my receipts in.


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Just shut up and listen. Whenever you think, ‘I know about that’, you don’t. When you hear yourself saying something you’ve said before, don’t bother. When someone worthwhile tells you something about North Korea, don’t sit there waiting till you can interrupt with your one factoid about North Korea. Pre-rehearsed anecdotes will keep you dumb. Also avoid all house-price talk, route talk, diet talk, name-dropping and current-affairs clichés. Over a lifetime, this can save you years.


Listen hardest to people younger than you. They are ignorant and generally have lowly jobs, but their fragments of knowledge will be more cutting-edge than yours. If you’re ever tempted to kid yourself that your knowledge will hold good over time, listen to aged relatives recite the race theories they picked up in the 1940s.


⑦ anecdote ['ænɪk.dəʊt] n. 趣闻;逸事

例句: What makes the anecdote a puzzle was that the consequence of it was not found.


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If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. If you have a theory that explains everything, bin it. As the economist Esther Duflo told my colleague John Gapper about theorists: ‘If I can predict what you are going to think of pretty much any problem, it is likely that you will be wrong on stuff.’

如果你是房间里最聪明的人,你就进错了房间。如果你有套理论能解释一切事,抛弃它。正如经济学家埃丝特•迪弗洛(Esther Duflo)曾对我同事约翰•加普(John Gapper)这样评论理论家:‘如果我能预料到你对几乎任何事情的看法,那么很可能你的看法是错的。’



When you meet someone who likes pontificating, you might pick up his tiny bit of expertise, if he has any. You’ll probably never have a productive conversation with him, and he won’t have learnt much from other people, so best to avoid. When you discover you were wrong about something, don’t fight it. Treasure the moment: you’ve learnt something.


⑧ pontificate [pɒn'tɪfɪkeɪt] v. 装作绝对正确的样子;发表武断的意见 n. 教皇[主教,高僧]的职位

例句: He sat there pontificating about the legal system although it was clear that heknew very little.


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Don’t let conflicts derail your working life. Frequent changes of career will stop you from increasing your competence in one particular field. If you have to work with somebody irritating, deal with it. If you find lots of people irritating, then you’re the problem.


Even if you become an expert, you’ll still be pretty ignorant. What experts know about any topic is always infinitely less than what they don’t know.


⑨ irritating ['ɪrɪ.teɪtɪŋ] adj. 惹人生气的;【医】起刺激作用的

例句: That is why it is so irritating when public figures apologize, and then act like the matter is finished.


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Obviously, you can’t be whatever you want to be. The trick is to work out what you should be.”


Last year, at a dinner in London, a high-powered fiftysomething came up and asked, “Do you remember me?” Of course I did. I hadn’t seen him for 25 years, but he had been the thirtysomething who introduced me to life-long learning. He taught me more than university did.


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