Imagining the Unknown

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Whoa.

That’s how I want to start, just with whoa.

Kat and I just had another 20/20 as we call it, where we discuss for 20 minutes, and now we will blog for 20 minutes on the discussion. The idea is that this gets us to practice discussion skills and prioritizing what information is truly worth bringing up and taking further, and also it gets us to practice writing and refining our thoughts in a short amount of time. Just keep this in mind while reading the continuation of my post, because discussing philosophy and responding to it in a short amount of time can make for some confusing thoughts.

Today’s discussion was on Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, which we read on Monday, and then for homework we each read multiple different articles on how people responded to this piece of text. The allegory itself is about a cave with people chained in the cave that can only see one wall. However, people will walk by the cave and fire helps project shadow images onto the wall that the cave people can see. One person is then “shown the light” when he is taken outside of the cave for the first time to discover that his reality is not the only one, and in fact the shadows that they were seeing in the cave were not the true figures themselves. Furthermore, when the cave person that is let out comes back into the cave, the others don’t believe what he says about the “true reality”.

The responses that I read had common themes of relating Plato’s allegory to ideas around religion, truth, and education. An interesting assumption that Kat and I noted was that most people assume that the cave people are uneducated and don’t understand reality. However, the cave people do in fact have a reality, it is just different from those outside of the cave.

Truth is defined by those who discuss it.

However, the big question that Kat and I discussed, which I don’t know if I can fully answer myself yet, was “What do the cave people’s imaginations look like?” We have come to somewhat of an understanding that imagination is based off of experience and what you know. It is really hard to imagine something without using any information that you already know. Like when trying to imagine a new animal, I first would say “well to be an animal a thing must be alive”. This is a conceived fact that I know to be true based on the human world’s definition of truth.

Therefore, (this is going to be a sloppy transition I’m almost sure of it, but my brain is currently processing in an odd assortment of thoughts that aren’t necessarily logical conclusions for everyone…) if we imagine new ideas based on previous experiences and knowledge, doesn’t it make sense for education to be taught through continuously experiencing new things?

Like learning about commas for example. First you learn to read words and you may see a comma and thus ask and learn it’s name. Then you learn when you read a comma you must take a pause. Next you start to learn different times to use commas. Then you write your own sentences with commas. Finally, the original “exact” definition of what a comma is becomes distorted, but you still use commas.

After you learn about commas, then when you see a semi colon, you notice that it includes something that resembles a comma. You can then imagine, based on your understanding of a comma being a break in a sentence where you take a brief pause, that a semi colon also involves a break and pause in writing.

Learning builds on itself. You take what you know from past experiences to apply it to new ideas. So if we keep disrupting the norm and learning things in new ways, then we will be able to constantly increase our imagination and creativity capabilities.

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3 thoughts on “Imagining the Unknown

  1. I really enjoyed your post! I’ve been trying to think of different ways that I could get my students to really think about and appreciate that just because a view is different from yours, does not make it wrong. I was thinking about using one of those optical illusion things (you know the one with the hag/young woman to illustrate that it all just depends on what we focus on. I’ll make sure we share post with my students.

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