GIF Minutes for December 12, 2003
Prepared by Judie McCoyd
Attending: Tom Young, Corey Shdaimah, Judie McCoyd, Ken Richman,
Anne Dalke, Paul Grobstein, Cheryl Selah
Readings: The Metaphysical Club by Menard, continued
Goodwin Liu, "Knowlege, Foundations, and Discourse: Philosophical
Support for Service-Learning," Fall 1995: 5-18.
Kenneth Richman, "Epistemology, Community and Experts,"
Fall 1996: 5-12.
Robert E. Tucker, "Biting the Pragmatist Bullet: Why Service-Learning
Can Do Without Epistemology," Fall 1999: 5-14.
Prior discussion of Corey's current dissertation chapter on autonomy
vs. compassionate care led into discussion of the articles from
the perspective of who the experts are who "know what is needed"
and by whom and how. Anne then gave an overview of how she came
to select the 3 articles to complement the Menand and then Ken provided
an extensive discussion of the history surrounding Liu's context
for writing the article (working within the Americorp umbrella and
trying to utilize service learning while avoiding noblesse oblige-
identifying service, reflection and classroom time as components
of good service learning.)
Anne started discussion by asking "Well, what does 'belief'
get us over 'Truth'?" Ken asserted that it allows revisions
of thinking to occur- he said Rorty says all we have is belief since
all knowledge is provisional; we should quit thinking about tying
to find "the way the world really is, or "truth."
Corey suggested that the faith part of belief is what throws one
off, not some belief in Truth- ie, how much does one believe in
one's belief. Ken explained the difference between pistus (belief)
and episteme (knowledge). Corey reiterated the idea that beliefs
may bring students to service learning while knowledge growth is
what is cited. She raised the question of how one avoids noblesse
oblige in service learning if it is done in a paternalistic
"serving" language. Judie furthered this question by asking
how power fits into the equation since the academic credit providers
have a power interest in how service learning occurs as well. Corey
raised Addams' notion of being "afflicted by the other"
as a learning experience- but cautioned that this can only happen
if one is open to the potential transformation of oneself. Anne
tied this to the diversity conference where students and teachers
are being challenged to be open to being transformed by one another.
Tom raised the question of where the service is and how that differs
from engagement. Anne suggested that maybe we'd moved beyond "service."
Paul suggested that leaving social justice ends open may mean that
the justification of this type of learning is really on ly the engagement
itself. Ken strongly disagreed stating that social testing is how
we improve and allow our belief to turn to action- he stated "What-works-
pragmatism is different from knowledge/beliefs ascertability."
Corey returned to our previous discussions that maybe the self reflection
is the piece that is most important- like the agonizing/grappling
discussed previously. Paul summarized Tucker's argument that service
learning could be justified religiously, but now Liu and Richman
are justifying it epistemologically, and that he does not believe
it needs those justifications, but is justified pragmatically by
the fact that it is effective. This may be pure pragmatism and leads
to political progressivism as growing from this. Paul asserts the
primary rule of thumb in social change is "never re-make a
mistake", but Ken questioned how one knows how to classify
something as a mistake, to which Paul replied that that can only
be determined by each individual.
Tom suggested that maybe individual mistakes bring on community
feedback that cause one to "leave the field." Paul asserted
that it's possible to "advance one's own story by hearing other's
stories and that these then create ways that new stories are devised
that become progressive- meaning that progression comes in not re-making
the same mistake." It was observed that Paul's version makes
the individual paramount while Ken's makes the community paramount
in determining what is 'moral'. Paul pointed out that his view allows
for more diversity in stories believed to hold accuracy even where
divergent paths exist (Western vs Eastern medicine). Ken suggested
that different communities allow for these divergent stories to
continue to exist. Corey pointee out that these views of divergent
stories are all well and good until the details create tension-
like who is affected by decisions with potentially ill consequences
("like the homeless downwind"). Paul continued to argue
that communal forms are OK too, but that he chooses to stand free
of them and follow an expansive internal drive.
Judie commented that it seems that we're once again back to a prescribed
process- grappling, expansive internal drives- as opposed to a prescribed
truth or absolute. She wondered if that gets us further or not.
Tom returned to Paul's assertion and asked if he agreed with Paul
that it's all about the individual, how does the individual do it
without community? Paul replied that culture is bound to create
discomfort for some (and comfort for others), but that a utopian
culture would allow for each individual to develop their own story.
Tom questioned why this hasn't occurred and Paul felt that it's
due to inordinate numbers of gate-keepers- at which point this gate-keeper
recognized the constraints on time and ended the meeting (at which
point we learned that Tom was a new Grandfather- CONGRATULATIONS!).
Jan 23- Explorations of Teaching-
Paulo Freire (1998) Pedagogy of Freedom, Ethics, Democracy and
Civic Courage, Rowman and Littlefield
Jan 30- GIF
Ray McDermott and Herve Varenne, "Culture
Herve Varenne, "Extra
Burdens in the Search for New Openings: On the Inevitability of
Feb 20- Carol Gilligan- The Birth of Pleasure
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