Dialogue ain’t for Sissies!

Reply Fri 25 Apr, 2008 01:16 am
Dialogue ain't for Sissies!

Human discourse seldom goes beyond adolescent styled discussion, debate, or argument. Intellectually, judging by our discourse, few Americans have the sophistication to undertake dialogue. I am 74 years old and have never experienced dialogue either as a participant or as a spectator. Our discourse seldom takes us beyond tacit (only a vague feeling) knowledge.

I am convinced that until we can dialogue we will never be safe from self destruction and perhaps even destruction of the planet for any life forms.

Few Americans are prepared to dialogue. Dialogue is much different from discussion and debate. To dialogue requires much preparation and our educational system have not prepared us for the practice of dialogue.

Our educational system is almost completely dedicated to rote teaching. Our system is almost totally a system of teaching by telling. Why is this so?

A didactic technique of educating young people is the most efficient way of inculcating facts into the memory of children. It seems to me that it is necessary to teach facts to children as quickly and as efficiently as possible during their early years.

It is vital that we have knowledge of many and varied types of algorithms. The more our lives are controlled by technology the more algorithms we must know.

However, there are no known algorithms for many problems that we face daily. Where we fail to have algorithms we must find ways to facilitate understanding.

How does the Socratic technique, or as it is more often called the dialogue method, enhance understanding by a student?

A classroom that is focusing on a dialogue technique of instruction would be one wherein there would be the usual teacher and a number of pupils. A question or a matter of interest would be introduced and pupils would be asked to give their opinion on the matter. Each student voicing a point of view would be subject to questions by members of the class and the instructor and each would be expect to defend the opinion as best they can. Such a class program would require, in many cases that the students come to class well prepared and ready to become an active participant.

The subject might be the American war in Iraq, for example. One can imagine in such a case that there would be many different points of view. Some students might be from homes wherein varying political affiliations might be held. Some students may be Muslims or Jews of Protestants. Such a question would elicit many and strongly held views. The views of all students would be subjected to questions focusing upon the quality of the argument supporting a view and perhaps questions that might focus upon the biases exposed by the view. Assumptions would be examined and questioned. The whole process is directed toward establishing a critical habit of thought in all students.

How does a young person who has finished their schooling develop their own value system?

How does a young person develop a sound intellectual foundation upon which to build a life?

What is a sound intellectual foundation?

How does a young person learn to ask the important questions?
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Reply Sat 26 Apr, 2008 12:21 am
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Reply Sat 26 Apr, 2008 12:07 pm
Re: Dialogue ain't for Sissies!
coberst wrote:
Few Americans are prepared to dialogue. Dialogue is much different from discussion and debate. To dialogue requires much preparation and our educational system have not prepared us for the practice of dialogue.

Our educational system is almost completely dedicated to rote teaching. Our system is almost totally a system of teaching by telling.

In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life ExaminedRutgers, which has long had a top-ranked philosophy department, is one of a number of universities where the number of undergraduate philosophy majors is ballooning; there are 100 in this year's graduating class, up from 50 in 2002, even as overall enrollment on the main campus has declined by 4 percent.

At the City University of New York, where enrollment is up 18 percent over the past six years, there are 322 philosophy majors, a 51 percent increase since 2002.

"If I were to start again as an undergraduate, I would major in philosophy," said Matthew Goldstein, the CUNY chancellor, who majored in mathematics and statistics. "I think that subject is really at the core of just about everything we do. If you study humanities or political systems or sciences in general, philosophy is really the mother ship from which all of these disciplines grow."

Nationwide, there are more colleges offering undergraduate philosophy programs today than a decade ago (817, up from 765), according to the College Board. Some schools with established programs like Texas A&M, Notre Dame, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, now have twice as many philosophy majors as they did in the 1990s.

David E. Schrader, executive director of the American Philosophical Association, a professional organization with 11,000 members, said that in an era in which people change careers frequently, philosophy makes sense. "It's a major that helps them become quick learners and gives them strong skills in writing, analysis and critical thinking," he said.

Mr. Schrader, an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware, said that the demand for philosophy courses had outpaced the resources at some colleges, where students are often turned away. Some are enrolling in online courses instead, he said, describing it as "really very strange."Other students said that studying philosophy, with its emphasis on the big questions and alternative points of view, provided good training for looking at larger societal questions, like globalization and technology.

"All of these things make the world a smaller place and force us to look beyond the bubble we grow up in," said Christine Bullman, 20, a junior, who said art majors and others routinely took philosophy classes. "I think philosophy is a good base to look at a lot of issues."

Frances Egan, a Rutgers philosophy professor who advises undergraduates, said that as it has become harder for students to predict what specialties might be in demand in an uncertain economy, some may be more apt to choose their major based simply on what they find interesting. "Philosophy is a lot of fun," said Professor Egan, who graduated with a philosophy degree in the tough economic times of the 1970s. "A lot of students are in it because they find it intellectually rewarding."

Max Bialek, 22, was majoring in math until his senior year, when he discovered philosophy. He decided to stay an extra year to complete the major (his parents needed reassurance, he said, but were supportive).

"I thought: Why weren't all my other classes like that one?" he said, explaining that philosophy had taught him a way of studying that could be applied to any subject and enriched his life in unexpected ways. "You can talk about almost anything as long as you do it well."

Jenna Schaal-O'Connor, a 20-year-old sophomore who is majoring in cognitive science and linguistics, said philosophy had other perks. She said she found many male philosophy majors interesting and sensitive.

"That whole deep existential torment," she said. "It's good for getting girlfriends."
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Reply Sat 26 Apr, 2008 02:55 pm
Good for Rutgers!!
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