Saturday, March 8, 2008

The pitfalls of subjective memory

I feel like a complete misfit at my current place of employment. One constructive reason why I feel so different from most other people I work with - how I vs. most of them describe events. An early conversation with my boss opened my eyes. We were outlining goals for my part of the program - which involves teaching environmental ed in inner-city classrooms. I had looked over the lessons/activities from the previous supervisor and team. The materials were colorful, cute, and looked like fun, but lacked educational depth -- no relevant vocabulary introduced to used, no major environmental systems were covered, no testing or review of what the students learned/absorbed. He asked me what I thought about the lessons, that's exactly what I told him. He was surprised. he was thoroughly impressed with the lessons and then explained how "successful" the lessons were in the past because the student had written than you letters saying how much they liked going outside or having guest presenters. And the teachers "loved" having the team come - the kids would light up and "act right". He then went on to say something about me and my team doing those same lessons, too. My jaw was dropped. I couldn't believe what I was hearing -- no real learning... This man hadn't clue about Bloom's Taxonomy and after explaining to him that the lessons were barely ground level, he remarked "They're 3rd graders. They don't need higher level thinking lessons." I was appalled and let him know it.
But that encounter showed me he was much more concerned with Affective responses to nature as opposed to using nature and environmental science to promote constructive learning and cognitive development.

But the same thing happened every time I talked with someone. They would get all whipped up over a situation that on surface was simple. But when you ask them to explain what happened they inserted all of these inferences ans assumptions and back-story accounts into the scenario. I'd interrupt and ask "How do you know that?". They'd go, "Oh, because once upon a time ago, she/he had done it before", or something like that. Completely explaining things in the first person they never witnessed, at best it was hearsay - most of the time pure psychic assumption.

Crazy. Reminds me of this new release about how adult memory is fallible. It's fallible for this very reason, people inserting meaning into events and not just describing what happened.
Objective vs. Subjective Reasoning.

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