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EvoLit 2011: Education as evolution/story telling

Paul Grobstein's picture


Education as evolution/story telling
27 Jan 2011 (PG)

Class is itself an experiment in a particular form of education: co-constructive inquiry

Learning by interacting, sharing observations and understandings to create, individually and collectively, new understandings and new questions that motivate new observations

Depends on co-constructive dialogue, being comfortable sharing existing understandings, both conscious and unconscious, in order to use them to construct new ones.  Need diversity of understandings, need to be able to both speak and listen without fear of judgment.  Need to see both self and others as always in process, always evolving.

Science as evolutionary/story telling?

Literature as evolution/story telling?

Other things as .... ?

Usefulness of noticing similarities/differences?


ajohnston's picture

Intro and Thoughts on Darwin

Hi! My name is Audrey Johnston and I am a junior English Major at Haverford with a concentration in creative writing. While I’ve chosen to pursue literature as my main focus academically, I’ve always been interested in the sciences and tried to allow each area of thought to inform the other in my life. I’m excited to learn about the intersections, tensions, and touch-points of evolution, stories, and diversity this semester.I live in Vermont, and love to hike, garden, cook, and play music. This past summer I interned at a publishing company that promoted literature on the politics and practice of sustainable living. I’m interested in how literature plays a role in encouraging environmental mindfulness, and was inspired by the writers I came into contact with this summer who told stories of various forms that sought to connect and convey positive change in communities and the natural landscape. As I read the first part of Darwin’s The Origin of Species and reflected upon our class discussions of the past week, I kept returning to the image of a tree, referenced by Darwin at the end of the fourth chapter, as a means of envisioning the process of evolution. While this is a relatively common image for the subject, I was struck by Darwin’s emphasis on vitality: “The green and budding twigs may represent existing species…As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful ramifications.” (p.127, or last paragraph of the fourth chapter). This passage spoke to me of the romance in Darwin’s story – the love of the speaker for the subject, the imagery and the poetic language is present alongside of theoretical substance being discussed. At the same time, I am now wondering if this image, which depicts the interconnection and transformation of evolution of species, also apply to the practices of science and literature?

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