Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Context, Context

Teach to the test. Memorize, memorize, memorize your dates, lists and correspondences. Diagram your grammar and cosmologies. Are we talking high school or magic?

Here is a question: 2+2=4
True, or false?

The answer? It depends.
Take the question out of the realm of the purely arithmetical and see what happens.

2 (cats) + 2 (pieces of fish) = 2 (cats). Or maybe even 1 (cat), if one is bigger and faster than the other. * In that context, 2+2= 2 and/or 1

Another question: 10-1=???
Give the question some context.
10 (mice) - 1(mouse, because it was eaten by a cat**) = 0 (mice-the others will run away when the first one is caught by the cat.)

There is a very large difference between education and training and our society has largely lost sight of the difference. Both are important, but which one is more important is dependent on what you intend to be. Keep your lists and charts handy, but remember that they are representative of something, and it is your job to figure out what that is. Sometimes, you might even find that you will then need to rearrange your chart or list. That doesn't mean that you are wrong. It does mean that you are looking at that chart or list from a different context from the one who handed it to you. (We do not live in a world of archetypes)

Don't solely take the word of experts.
Do your own work.
Have fun.

*Thank you to the Sunday New York Times for this example
**The educator quoted by the NY Times had a thing for examples with cats involved.