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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Book Report - Part 6 - MAKING MEANING

Interesting chapter in a mind-stretching way. Up front, I am compelled to say that the pluralistic relativism of the "making meaning is a personal perception" is counter to my upbringing. Not in the sense that people cannot see the same thing and draw different conclusions, but that this concept leads to the belief that there are no absolutes in the world.
I will have to struggle with my own perceptions of that reality. Is it possible, or prudent, to hold two views that oppose each other? Or does the belief in absolutes and the belief in relativism have to be exclusive? Not just in a theological sense, but in an educational sense. Is there nothing that is absolutely necessary (like knowing the alphabet, numbers, multiplication tables, the ability to read).
Adelbert Ames, Jr. - work on perception and how the individual makes meaning of what they see was valuable. "We do not get our perceptions from the "things" around us. Our perceptions come from us." Whatever is seen is filtered through a personal nervous system. Thus reality is perception as much as the newer advertising slogan that perception is reality.
If (or since) one makes meaning on a personal level, then one's ability to be social (which is a newer requirement than the publishing date) is contingent upon one's ability to see the other points of view. Empathy becomes a necessary trait where absolutes do not exist.
Empathy becomes even more important as the authors state "the meaning of a perception is how it causes us to act." Since perceptions cannot be "wrong" only less "approriate" we find ourselves faced with options that are not always productive for everyone.
For Example --
In our 21st century world, where the perceptions of good and evil come down to religious delineation (Islam vs. Jewish, Christian vs. Islam, Hindu vs. Islam) as seen in Mumbai (2008), New York/Washington D.C. (2001) and again in Gaza (2009), there is little wonder why governments would want standardization of curriculum.
Based on the actions of others, based on the perceptions that one religion is "better" than another, I understand why scientist and others have tried to lead the world out of religious commitment, but that will not happen, nor should it.
Because of the later "joke" about the 5th grade teacher asking how many legs a grasshopper has. The "grim Negro boy" in class replies, "I sure wish I had your problems!" it is likely that science will not solve his problems, or provide answers, in the way a religious experience will. To say the "mind" is better than the "heart" is to deny the claims of the chapter.
My favorite line, and most substantial to me, "...in an inquiry environment, the lesson is always about the learner. [The learner] is the content." Learning is about the possibility of modifying and extending the meanings a student already has in their heads.
 From R. Murry

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