What is wisdom?

What is wisdom? What does wisdom mean? What makes a person wise? What does a wise person do? How do you become a wise person? What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge?

Think about these questions. Discuss them with your family. Do a little research in books or in the Internet. Make a comment to share your thinking. Add on to other people’s comments instead of repeating what other people say. Make it a conversation.

Original Photograph by JAEwalk on Flickr
  1. Pat
    September 19, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I think that wisdom i a very deep and specific knowledge also I think that wisdom is something that people have by making the right choices

  2. Pat
    September 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Sorry I mean is a

  3. Tamanna
    September 19, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    My mom and I had a discussion about what wisdom means and we came up with this understanding that. Wisdom means having the knowledge of making the right & wise decision. A wise decision means knowing the difference between what is right & wrong which will help us in the future.

    Tamanna 6SS

    • Mr. Sam
      September 19, 2011 at 8:34 pm

      Yes, I agree, it is really about the difference between right and wrong, and knowing what to do in different situations.

  4. Jimin
    September 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Wisdom is a deep understanding. Wise people are sometimes old people because old people learned alot of things from their lives and they have a lot of knowledge about wisdom. Wisdom means that you are wise and you think about what you are doing. Wise people know where their switches are and they know how to switch it off. Knowledge makes people wise because if you know a lot of things, you’ll do what you learned from other people. Also I think the Don’t Sweat the small Stuff book makes you wise because it tells you about wisdom and it gives you a lot of good advices. Wise person thinks about what they are doing and makes the right choices(pat’s idea). To become a wise person, you have to think about what you are doing and have to know where the switch is and turning it off. The difference between wisdom and knowledge is: Knowledge is something you know about. Knowledgable people is smart and clever. It means that you have a lot of knowledge. But knowledgable people doesn’t know where their switch is sometimes. Also they sometimes make wrong choices. Wise people know things and they have a lot of experience so they don’t do bad things like not Interrupting people when they are speaking and they make the right choices.

    • Mr. Sam
      September 19, 2011 at 8:36 pm

      I really like the fact that you said wise people think about what they are doing. This is very important. Is it really possible to always think about everything we do?

      • Jimin
        September 20, 2011 at 6:06 am

        It’s not possible to always think what you are doing but you have to always try to think because if you think about what you are doing, you can stop bad habits.

        • Mr. Sam
          September 20, 2011 at 9:59 am

          Yes, you’re right. Thanks for taking the time to answer my question, and for answering it so well!

  5. 19vint
    September 19, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    I think Wisdom means to make the right choices at the right time. I kind of disagree with Jimin that Wise People and Knowledgeable people are different because if you are Knowledgeable you have had a lot of experience and Knowledge, like old people, and you know what the right choice is. If you’re Knowledgeable then you will make a wise decision. Knowledge is not knowing lots of math and intelligence, but also knowing how your actions will affect other people.
    Wise people and knowledgeable know when to do the right things, like not interrupting when someone is speaking and speaking when necessary.
    I also think that the “Don’t sweat the Small stuff” book is important because it gives good advice and tells you how to deal with problems. Many Philosophers said that a wise person does not show off their power with force but knows what is right or wrong.

    Did you know that the word “Philosophy” comes from the Greek Word Philo-Sophia, which means love of Wisdom?

    “Love of learning is akin to wisdom. To practice with vigor is akin to humanity. To know to be shameful is akin to courage”- Confucius

    “Knowing others is intelligence;
    knowing yourself is true wisdom.

    Mastering others is strength;
    mastering yourself is true power.”- Chapter 33, Tao Te Ching, a book I have at home about Taoism philosophy and Wisdom.

    “One is not wise merely because he talks much. But he who is calm, free from hatred and fear, is verily called a wise man”- The Buddha

    • Mr. Sam
      September 19, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      I love the quotes in your comment Vin, so interesting and also so powerful. I also like the way you explained how knowledge can be similar to wisdom if you use the knowledge that have about the world.

      • Vin
        September 22, 2011 at 9:08 pm

        Mr. Sam,
        When I saw the picture of the old woman, I also thought that sometimes old people can be wise, but choose not to , like some old people smoke and take drugs. Then, they have to take surgery to get better, and sometimes they lose their voice or need life support.

  6. Hannah
    September 19, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    What I found out was that wisdom is deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations to have ability to choose, act or inspire produce the optimum to results with the minimum of energy or thought. Often they are intelligent people who know a lot of the world and have often had experiences that help them become wiser( I think the key word to wisdom is wise) Often you can see if people are wise or not because of the actions they use. It is kind of the ability to optimally (effectively and efficiently) ”apply perceptions and knowledge and produce the desired results. Wisdom is also the comprehension of what is true or right coupled with optimum judgement as to action.”

    • Mr. Sam
      September 19, 2011 at 8:42 pm

      There are some very difficult words in your comment, Hannah. Can you please try and put the main meaning of this into your own words for people who may not understand the words?

  7. Hannah
    September 19, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I got the information from wikipedia

  8. Hannah
    September 19, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    I would like to add to that and say that a lot of people in history have made wise choices but the majority didn’t. The famous and successful people in history nearly all of them were wise but some were successful in a bad way not a wise way.

  9. Hannah
    September 19, 2011 at 8:43 pm
  10. September 19, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Wonderful comments and interesting ideas so far!
    My question to you is…Do you think a young person or child can be wise? Are life experience and knowledge gained in the course of many years the only ways to become “wise”?

    • Mr. Sam
      September 20, 2011 at 10:00 am

      This is a very interesting question – who is going to answer it???

    • Jimin
      September 21, 2011 at 6:34 pm

      I can answer your question.

      I think a child can be wise to because my cousin, Se hyun, he is very wise because he thinks before he does something and he makes the right choices. When Se hyun’s brother is doing something wrong, Se hyun says, “Is this the right thing for you to do?” to his brother. Now Se hyun’s brother is becoming a wise person a tiny bit because he sometimes makes the right choices. Se hyun’s brother is only 6 so he doesn’t listen carefully what people says. But he is becoming a wise person because of her brother. Se hyun does not always make the right choices but he does most of the time.

      You can be wise although you haven’t gained knowledge and life experience because if you get an effect by wise people and if you learned something from them, you can be a wise person. Also you can be a wise person by thinking what you are doing and making the right choices. Plus, you can get knowledge with books. 6SS is reading the Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff book and it is giving us great advices and knowledge.

  11. Yuki
    September 19, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    What is wisdom? What does wisdom mean?

    Wisdom is something that leads you into the right path. If you don’t have wisdom you will be side tracked. Wisdom means the person’s knowledge got from the experience, which can make them into a better person.

    What makes a person wise? What does a wise person do? How do you become a wise person?

    Wise person means a person who can make right choices. A wise person will care for other people and also know how to react when they get into trouble. They also know that success means not to repeat the same mistakes twice. They also know the word commonsense. There are many things that make a person wise. You can be wiser by listening to adult’s advice because they have lived longer than you and also they have experienced more successes and mistakes.

    What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge?

    The difference between knowledge and wisdom is that knowledge is information you learn from like teachers, books, internet and other people but wisdom is something you can get by taking action based on the knowledge you learnt or something you learn from old people who are more experienced in real life.

    Knowledge + knowledge = knowledge

    (Knowledge + knowledge) x experience = wisdom

    • Mr. Sam
      September 20, 2011 at 10:01 am

      I like the fact that you said “You can be wiser by listening to adult’s advice because they have lived longer than you and also they have experienced more successes and mistakes”. But, you also need a little bit of wisdom to know which adults are really giving you good advice and to know they are giving you advice for the right reasons.

    • Mr. Sam
      September 20, 2011 at 10:02 am

      I love the equation! (Knowledge + knowledge) x experience = wisdom

    • September 21, 2011 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Yuki,

      Like Mr.Sam, I love the equation (Knowledge + knowledge) x experience = wisdom. In my opinion, I think that’s the formula for wisdom itself!

  12. Billy
    September 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Hi 6SS,

    My Mum’s Opinion is:

    Some people are just born wise, but to be wise does not equate to being clever or to read by your self. It is known to be knowledgeable and knowing what to do in certain situations. In storybooks they associate old people to be the wise one’s because they are old and they are experienced and have gone through their life so they know what and what not to do. I believe you do not have to be old to be wise. You are respectful you always try to proceed.


    “Those who know are wise. Those who know themselves are enlightened.” According to – Laozi (Lao Tzu, Lao Tse, Lao Tsu)

    “Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.” According to – William Butler Yeats


    the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.
    scholarly knowledge or learning: the wisdom of the schools.
    wise sayings or teachings; precepts.
    a wise act or saying.
    (initial capital letter) Douay Bible. Wisdom of Solomon.

    before 900; Middle English, Old English wīsdōm; cognate with Old Norse vīsdōmr, German Weistum. See wise1, -dom

    Related forms
    wis·dom·less, adjective

    1. sense, understanding. 2. sapience, erudition, enlightenment. See information.

    1. stupidity. 2. ignorance.

    Once a famous rugby player named Brian O’Driscal said “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit wisdom is knowing to put it in a salad.”



    • Mr. Sam
      September 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      Ha ha ha ha! That’s a fantastic quote – is it really by a Rugby player. I love it.

      “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing to put it in a salad.”

  13. Yasmin
    September 20, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Task A
    Wisdom means
    the quality of having experience,knowledge and judgment.
    Wise people
    The people who have/show experience,knowledge and judgment.
    Wise decision
    good sense shown in a way of thinking,judgment or action.

    • Mr. Sam
      September 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Yasmin, this is a good start. However, can you please explain what you think in more detail?

  14. September 20, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    What an amazing learning dialogue taking place here. Do you think you need to be wise to be a good leader?

  15. September 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Wisdom mean?
    Wisdom means that you follow the right path and do the right thing. If you are passionate about what you are doing you will do it really go, so if you want to have wisdom you also must be passionate. Wisdom also means that you also have experience, because if you don’t have experience you will do a lot of mistakes. Wisdom is also about judgement because you have to be strict in order to have wisdom, because you have to learn before you have wisdom, and you have to learn properly instead of wasting time.

    Where does wisdom comes from?
    Wisdom comes from different ways and one of the things are respect. If you have respect you have wisdom, because if you have wisdom and for an example Mr. Sam says go to the carpet and you are drawing and you continue to draw that is not showing wisdom, but if you stop drawing and go to the carpet you are showing wisdom, because wisdom is also a part of knowledge.

    By madhav 🙂 👿

    • Mr. Sam
      September 20, 2011 at 9:19 pm

      Do you think we have to make mistakes in order to become wise?

  16. Mari
    September 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    1. What is wisdom?

    I think wisdom is to make sensible choices.

    2. What does wisdom mean?

    Wisdom means good sense and judgment based especially on our experience of life.

    3. What does a wise person do?

    A wise person would listen to others carefully so they can deeply understand the situations.

    4 What makes a person wise?

    I think each person has different wisdom. Everyone is wise, but in a different way. Wise person define to think before they act.

    5. How do you become a wise person?

    I think “Bubble catcher” helps me to be a wise person because we can note our good things and bad things to improve my knowledge.

    6. What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge?

    Wisdom is evaluated understanding but knowledge is application of data and information.

    • Mr. Sam
      September 20, 2011 at 9:21 pm

      I agree with you that wise people listen to others. But how do we know who we should listen to and who we should not listen to?

      • Mari
        September 21, 2011 at 8:17 pm

        We can listen to everyone but we have to find out if it is the right thing to do.

  17. Zola
    September 20, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I think wisdom means someone who makes wise choices and someone does thinks before they. I think they learn from your mistakes instead of doing the same thing again. I also think wisdom means you respect everything around you.
    By Zola :p

    • Mr. Sam
      September 20, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      Have you read the first sentence of your comment, Zola?

      I agree, wise people learn from their mistakes. What kind of mistakes do you think people learn from?

    • Zola
      September 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      Sorry about the first sentence I meant to write-
      “I think wisdom means someone who makes wise choices and someone who thinks before they act.

      Sentence 2

      ” I think a wise person learns frm his/her mistakes instead of making te same mistakes over and over again.”

      Mr. Sam, I think the mistakes people learn from are the once where there are consequences involved…

  18. Caitie :]
    September 20, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    I think wisdom is doing and saying the right things at the right time. And making responsible decisions.I think being wise is not being smart but being good and kind. And like zola said being wise is thinking before you act.

    • Mr. Sam
      September 20, 2011 at 9:24 pm

      So, do you think there are some smart people who are not wise and some wise people who are not smart?

  19. Pan
    September 20, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I think wisdom is understanding of what is true, right, or lasting. It is also using your common sense and knowledge.
    These are some quotes that why people are not wise.
    “If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.” John Lennon”

    • Mr. Sam
      September 20, 2011 at 9:24 pm

      What do you mean by “lasting” Pan?

    • Pan
      September 21, 2011 at 5:16 pm

      its like not making the wrong desion.

  20. September 20, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    “Wisdom is when a problem is solved with the people in the problem is all happy about the solution.” My mom, Eun Young.
    I think wisdom is when you know what you are doing and doing the right thing. Getting wise is when you actually do the right thing. If you are a student, we need to follow the instruction and at the next, to make creative ideas. A wise person should not wonder around and they’ll always know what to do next after they finish their work. The difference of knowledge and wisdom is that, knowledge is about what we know and try to think hard. But wisdom is a way of getting to a right way and always make reflections.

    • Mr. Sam
      September 20, 2011 at 9:26 pm

      I like this bit “wisdom is when you know what you are doing”. This is called “mindfulness” – knowing what you are doing at all times, living in the present moment. Very powerful.

  21. James Forsythe
    September 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Hi There 6SS. My Name Is Mr. James and I teach a grade three class at Phuket International Academy. First of all, I love your class blog, and have recently been sharing it with my class. We have set a goal to get our own class blog going by the start of the second term.

    We enjoyed your postings on Wisdom, and we have one of our own to contribute. We have been doing a UOI on the different ways people learn, and so we have a connection to your post. We have a slightly different lens that we are looking through as we are looking at the Multiple Intelligences as well as the role social and emotional learning plays (We call this mindfulness). Here is what we have to say.

    (You should know we wrote our definitions before we looked at yours…there are definitely some similarities)

    what is wisdom?

    “I think that wisdom means being wise, having knowledge, being intelligent, Mindfull, and peaceful. If you have mastered all the smarts you will have wisdom. Any one can have wisdom but the people who have experienced it the most are normally the people who are old.”-Natalya

    “If you are old it doesn’t mean you are silly because old people are very smart old people have moor expertness then us.” -Ben.

    “I think wisdom means some of the MI’s, knowledge, and if you are wise you could be all of the learner profile one day!”- Zach

    “I think wisdom is connected to some of the MI’s and actually mindfulness and even age. I think because when you are older you have experienced more things and it is connected to the MI’s because for example picture smart, word smart, people smart and me smart is connected to mind- fulness which is related to wisdom.” -Marcus

    “I think wisdom is when some old people are sometimes wise because they experienced what it was like before.” -Elin

    “I think wisdom means being smart and peaceful.” -Santi

    “Wisdom means wise and old, and all the smarts(MI’s)…maybe even all the words like care, risk taker, thinker. I think it could mean connections between all these things.” -Sanna

    “I think wisdom is connected to how old you are and I think also that being mindful is connected to being wise.” -Mathilda

    “I think wisdom is looking at things, and thinking of what you are looking at and making the right decision.” -Tomas

    Dear Mr. Sam.
    I have some pics of the process we followed to arrive at our definitions. If you are interested in sharing with your students, I can email them along. (james at pia .ac .th)

    Mr. James

    • Vicky
      September 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      Wow, thank-you Mr.James for coming to our blog!! I really like all the student’s comments especially Natalya’s. They are all creative comments! I agree with being mindfull is wisdom because thinking before acting is very smart thing to do or else we will always make accidents.

      Big thanks, Vicky

    • Petanque
      September 21, 2011 at 7:07 pm

      Hi, Mr. James

      WOW, What a big piece of information I really agree and thank you visiting our blog.
      I hope you will still be visiting! 🙂

      Petanque 6SS

    • Mr. Sam
      September 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm

      Hi James… welcome to the blog. It’s so exciting to get contributions from outside the NIST community, and even more exciting to get the thoughts of another set of students. Your students’ comments are really interesting and it is great to see these things being discussed at such a young age. As I said to my class the other day… I wish I’d had the chance to talk about stuff like this when I was their age!

      I’d love to see the pictures of the process you used to get your kids to this stage in their thinking. My email address is ssherratt@nist.ac.th.



  22. September 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I think wisdom is doing the right thing and getting ideas that are wise not mean or nasty in any sort of way and also dont brag about your priviliges because if you use it badly you want have it also.

  23. Stefan
    September 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    My mother thinks wisdom is knowledge that has come from your experience.

    Most of the wise people I know are kinda old.

    I think wisdom means to do the right thing.

    My father thinks wisdom is the ability to look behind the obvious and to connect dots.

  24. daniel :)
    September 21, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Wisdom is something that is true or it is to listen to wise people. Wisdom means to be wise and have common sense. You can only be wise if you made mistakes because if you never make a mistake you will never learn. a lot of old people are wise because they have been doing a life time of mistakes and learning from them. a wise person wold do the write thing to do and not be silly.

    • Mr. Sam
      September 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm

      I disagree. I think a wise person would know when it is OK to be silly. Being wise does not mean always being terribly serious!

  25. Petanque
    September 21, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Hi Guys,

    These are some quotes and questions that I found out from my family and from my own knowledge about the word “Wisdom”
    – A wise act or saying
    – The quality or state of being wise. Knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action.
    – Having experience, good judgment and knowledge
    – I also found a word “Common Sense”
    This is a quote that my sister said “Wisdom is when you use experience to make valuable and desirable decisions.
    This is a quote that I found on the website: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_wisdom.html
    “Cleverness is not always wisdom.”
    Examples of people unwise
    – People braking the rules or agreements in silly or stupid way
    – Kids fighting about a small stuff.
    – Doing things that aren’t supposed to do.
    – Not listening to something.
    – OTHERS…
    Examples of people being wise
    – People is using their common sense
    – Following orders
    – Using RASA to help ( R – Receive A – Appreciate S – Summarize A – Ask

  26. September 21, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    My mum said “A wise person is someone who can make good judgements and decisions, gained from knowledge and years of experience.”

    I found this website which explained knowledge and wisdom and the difference between them. I found out knowledge is knowing the facts and information where else wisdom consists of knowledge and experience. Here is the link to the website: http://www.diffen.com/difference/Knowledge_vs_Wisdom

    My mum also told me there was a Chinese idiom that said “Failure is the mother of success.” I did a little more research and found another website that had a few Chinese idioms connected to wisdom and experience with an explanation for each. Here is the website: http://blog.chinesehour.com/?p=575

    I think a wise person would do sensible and smart things but not necessarily all the time. Sometimes unwise people say smart things and do sensible things too!

  27. Tammy
    September 21, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Hi guys
    I think wisdom is doing the right thing in the right time. For example using RASA and using common sense. Also that relates to doing responsible actions and the most important thing is you need to think before you act. When you think before you act it helps you to be a wise person because you are using common sense and you didn’t act before you think.


  28. Mara :D
    September 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    My mum thinks that wisdom means that your wise your knowledgeable. I think that means a lot because, when you are wise like..


    Say didn’t make a very good choice and before you do that not very good choice you are wise and making a good choice and all that includes knowledge.

    So thanks Mum, for that very good idea of what wisdom means.


    • Mara :D
      September 22, 2011 at 3:18 pm

      😀 😀 😀 🙂 🙂 🙂

  29. Melis
    September 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I think that wisdom means that you are wise and knowledgeable and you make good choices which makes you a great leader.

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