Thursday, March 16, 2006

Gone Slightly Mad?

From the expressions on their faces - they didn't say much so that's all I had to go on - my presentation left some students thinking that either I was slightly mad, mildly gullible or needed to go on extended holiday... Most however were in very deep thought... not quite sure what to make of it all... or me. And that's exactly what I intended.

I did a 15 min presentation of an enigma - although not everyone thought it was an enigma... but then that was partly my point :-)

The presentation is part of a series planned for 50 students who have opted for some extension work to help them with their academic program and today centred on the Great Pyramid at Giza.

Why the Great Pyramid? Most believed that we have a good understanding of Egyptian History - and we do. BUT there are some things that don't fit the generally accepted view - and one of them is the Great Pyramid at Giza.

What's interesting is to see how different people react to this contradictory evidence. Some get quite emotional and become defensive or aggressively offensive. Others rationalise the whole thing away saying that it "doesn't really matter" or "who knows" or "you're probably wrong"... Others have a blind faith in the authority of recognised science, textbooks or experts. One student said: "If there was really a problem we would know about it."

Behind all of this is Transformational Learning Theory and the idea that you can expand a person's worldview or perspective through the use of enigma or paradox. This is what I tried to do in this short presentation. There was no time for a rigorous look at the evidence just a peek through a small window into an alternate worldview.

A smaller group attended a follow-up lunch-time session and while the majority appear to look at the world through the eyes of scientific empirical rationalism it was very clear that some had very different worldviews...

Students have the opportunity to continue the Great Pyramid discussion in an online forum. In a couple of weeks I intend to present some coherent theoretical frameworks based on 4 Quadrant Integral Theory to help students make sense of how worldviews (lower left quadrant) might affect inquiry in the remaining three.

But perhaps before I do that there is time to stir the pot and stretch my credibility a little more with some further enigma and paradox... :-)

Photo sourced from Flickr - Creative Commons License

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, March 10, 2006

'Socially Permissive' Students

Largely conservative in economics and progressive in social policies - this is the political landscape of the 2006 Journalism class.

These results come from a fairly simplistic on-line Politics Test - but as the web site says you do get "nifty graphs and charts"!

Nearly half the class sit in the lower right quadrant - they would be Democrat voters in the USA (where the test is based) . I've re-labelled them as 'Labor' voters in the Australian context but I probably can't do that... I also replaced US Republicans with the label 'Liberal' and that doesn't quite fit the Australian scene either... but hey the graphics are pretty :-)

Check out the web site to see the faces of some prominant political figures mapped - someone needs to do the same for some Australian politicians...

There are no extremists in the journalism class - in fact the test results of many came with the label 'Centrist'.

I wonder which parties they would vote for if they were voting in this month's Tassie election... actually 3 students will be voting...