I just ate a 20 year old fruitcake. I kid, I actually read an exerpt from, Qualitative Research in Information Management by Jack D. Glazier (University of Missouri-Columbia) and Ronald R. Powell (University of Missouri-Columbia). More specifically, Chapter 6 titled, "From the Mind's Eye of the User: The Sense-making Qualitative-Quantitative Methodology" by Brenda Dervin. It might as well have been a 20 year old fruitcake, it was so dense. It tasted a little nutty, had great flavor, but digesting it is something else. I had to take little bites at a time. And I'm sure, if I were to serve it to a friend or relative, they'd wonder why I was analyzing its contents.
What Dervin is telling us, is that there are constants in nature that we can assume are as "fact", and that human nature is specific in those facts. HOWEVER, our experiences are constant, relative, and individualized. My friend and I may be attending the same concert as we stand and sing together while watching the show, but we are experiencing it differently. My musical background, for example, might allow me to hear that the lead singer is singing slightly flat, while my friend, without that same knowledge, is enjoying the show totally oblivious that my fine-tuned ears are burning in disgust.
Which brings me to my next bite off the ol' fruitcake.
For Dervin, this is referencing again, that the human experience is relative. It's constantly happening, and it's also constantly changing. Change is a constant. As philosopher Immanuel Kant said about metaphysics, as quoted by Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "The reason that knowledge has these constraints, Kant argues, is that the mind plays an active role in constituting the features of experience and limiting the mind’s access only to the empirical realm of space and time." School curriculum is constantly changing. Technology is constatnly changing. People's interests are constantly changing. All this is human behavior mixed with individual human emotions and individual experiences. We calibrate writing scores across a grade level, school, or district before we begin grading, so we can put our experiences and emotions aside. We do this to accomplish, as best as we can, an objective approach to subjective ideas.
If I were to teach this fruitcake of an exerpt to high school students, I would certainly break it down into small chunks. I would be highlighting it with the kids, allowing them to make a mind map of each section, cut pieces of it apart and then allow them to illustrate their sentences. I would even allow them to use youtube to show us clips of sci-fi movies!
Sarah Magallano teaches 5th grade. She also coaches teachers on integrating art & engineering into their lesson plans.