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Kate Shiner's picture

Re: Non-foundational inquiry- my thoughts at the moment

I am struck by what I perceive as the perhaps newly evolving focus on interdependence in Paul's new writing. Of course, this could be that I am merely looking at it differently from my own evolving perspective! In any case the idea that the observer cannot help but interact with, change, and be changed by what is observed has roots in experiments in quantum physics, right? Some academics, particularly in the social sciences, have long been arguing that science needs to move from the mechanistic metaphor for understanding that had its origins in Descartes and became so popular in Newton's era to a paradigm that takes into account a new interactive understanding. But the challenge is, how does this new paradigm work: how can it actually be applied in a practical way? I see Paul's idea of science as story as a fundamental part of the new paradigm. It is more inclusive. It gives credence to both "bottom-up" and "top-down" approaches.

I am also intrigued by his assertion that "Rules and properties allow for a simple understanding of the world, thus acting as a useful foundation for quick actions when there isn’t time for deliberation." I wonder what implications this idea has for education; in particular for teachers who are expected to quickly and effectively implement research-based and often rule bound practices in their classrooms. What room is there in practice for the new understandings that occur to an individual practicioner? What freedom should a teacher have to modify his or her instruction based on new understandings and what evidence (or documentation) should he or she realistically have to produce to justify these modifications? How can science in general actually take into account the shifting barriers to learning in individual classrooms? Right now I am writing a paper about this issue for a special education course and I would say it could be doing a much better job.


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