> L - how do you think we discourage them from thinking? Concrete
> examples... How does this relate to education policymakers call
> for students to do more reflection and to develop higher order
> thinking skills? What have been your experiences re art ed.
(Sorry for the delay; meetings with a GEAR UP! program)
Good questions, Jane, and Deb's post is a good reply based on recent
authors. (In fact, I printed it off myself; Deb, is that from a paper of
yours? Could I get a copy?).
Still, some of the why's and wherefores are not explained. So, I'd like to
lecture for a couple of minutes to make what I think are the tie-ins.
It is a combination of Psychology, Philosophy and NeuroPhysiology.
The principle point of learning is to develop (as in 'construct') knowledge.
One cannot 'acquire' knowledge; one can only acquire information. Knowledge
is constructed within the individual mind. All the 'knowledge' which I have
is a construction made of the information I have acquired (so far) in life,
from experience, from 'doing' (this was Dewey's point - practical knowledge,
and Habermas' instrumental knowledge).
But, what's the point of constructing this knowledge; what happens to it and
what do we do with it. (And this is where "imagination" and "fantasy" come
in.) To borrow from recent developments in Analog Artificial Intelligence,
WHAT WE DO IS TO RE-CREATE THE WORLD IN OUR MINDS. In this construction, we
look for correspondence and coherence, so that the world around us and
within us makes sense. Thus the analogy of the cognitive dissonance (within
the mental world) with the impossibility of contradictions in the real
world. (When you do find "apparent" contradictions in the 'real' (outside)
world, check your basic premises; something's wrong. Nature does not allow
We use this 'inner' construction of the world to understand it, ourselves,
and our place in it. We also use it 'experimentally' for our 'what if's?'
This is where imagination and fantasy come in. We project our thoughts and
actions upon this world model, to make predictions and analyze possible
consequences. (This is also the root of the psychological condition of
psychosis: when the individual loses the distinction between the inner and
the outer world.)
Artists are usually people who are compelled to create images of their inner
world. Well, in fact, we all are; some do it in business, some in military
actions, some in theology, etc. Artists use their own visual (or auditory
in the case of musicians) mediums.
So, what happens between this acquisition of information and the
construction of knowledge? SIMPLY THAT THE INDIVIDUAL HAS TO DO SOMETHING
WITH THE INFORMATION, AND THAT PROCESS HAS TO INCLUDE THE INDIVIDUAL'S
EXISTING KNOWLEDGE. What needs to be done is for the information, first, to
be checked for facticity (nasty word, but 'is it true or not?'; is it 'good'
information?) This is Analysis. Then that information has to be checked
against existing knowledge in the individual's 'inner world'. Does it fit?
Does it make sense? Is it coherent and consistent with everything else in
there? This is Reflection. How does it fit in and it's addition change
what is already there? This is Synthesis. What is my world model now?
Again, Reflection. And does the new model hold up (did I integrate the
information correctly)? And, lastly, what do I do with/about what I now
The Scientific Method is the best model for this whole process: Observe,
Hypothesize, Test, Re-evaluate, and Derive, if possible, a Law or Principle.
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