Sunday, May 21, 2006

The trouble with what we think is real

There's an obscure little book called 'When the Dragon Stirs' (by V. MacGill). In it I found what I think is a couple of crucial sentences: 'The very mythology we have created [out of the cultural past] then creates our world because we only perceive anything that fits that mythology to be real, and what does not becomes unreal. Thus the society creates a false mythology to live by; the falseness perpetuated by everybody conforming to it.'

Most institutions stop being 'real' because they think they know best from ill-digested experience. They stop critically observing what is going on both within them and in the general context in which they operate.

I see a person - usually a woman - walking a dog. I can tell (from long experience with dogs and while walking one myself) that she does not dicipline the dog by following and using the dog nature, but by her own nature - her preconceived ideas about dogness and herself in relationship. Almost without thinking, she is acting - like the institution - in the way she 'thinks' she knows best.

Perhaps in some way a bit similar the teaching profession has failed with my 11-year old grandson. I am sure he could be reading and writing much better now had he been taught the phonetic approach at the start when he was in the first government school. Instead he seems to have developed a painful clumsy letter-naming by letter-naming approach as if 'c-a-t' is spelt 'cyate'. Something of objective and critical observation of how best to learn the relationship between letters and typically paired letters (vowels) and the sound they (more or less) make, seems to have almost completely escaped him. But I suppose the teaching methodologists thought they knew best!


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