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Content Writer at TAFE NSW

The sharing of knowledge also helps to dispel ignorance, which is often what lies underneath negative emotions like fear and hatred

Today, 28 April, is international Pay it Forward Day. It’s all about the ripple effect. Making the world a better place, one kind deed at a time.

The idea of paying it forward has been around for decades. But it was American novelist Catherine Ryan Hyde who really popularised the concept (and phrase) with her 1999 novel of the same name. The following year the novel was made into a successful Hollywood movie starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt and bearing the same title.

The phrase “paying it forward” generally refers to the spreading of kind deeds. But at TAFE NSW we also believe that the paying forward of knowledge can be an equally powerful way of changing the world. We all know the incredible value of knowledge and how empowering it can be for an individual. And the sharing of knowledge also helps to dispel ignorance, which is often what lies underneath negative emotions like fear and hatred.

Paying knowledge forward can be incredibly simple, sometimes even intuitive. Have you ever explained something from class that a fellow student was having trouble understanding? Congratulations, you’ve paid some of your knowledge forward. In fact, any advice you’ve ever given to someone, provided it was based on reliable information and you were giving it in good faith, is also “paying it forward” in action.

And, of course, the internet is awash with great examples of the free sharing of knowledge.

Go to TED Talks and you’ll discover a smorgasbord of free knowledge in the form of over 2,000 “talks to stir your curiosity”. This is paying it forward x 2. The original speaker was sharing their knowledge with the live audience, and the uploading of the video onto the internet ensured that knowledge could be accessed by millions more people all over the world.

That old stalwart of the internet, Wikipedia, is another great example of the spreading of free information. People with particular areas of knowledge are able to share that knowledge by directly contributing to articles and pages on the site. And Skillshare represents a whole other class of information sharing where people upload brief instructional videos demonstrating skills that other people are able to benefit from.

Paying your knowledge forward is something that anyone can do and it doesn’t cost a cent. It’s just another simple way of making the world a better place, step by step. Or byte by byte.

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