Deconstruct This!

Its no secret that the main point of education isn't to teach content (or perhaps more importantly shouldn't be to teach content) but rather to teach process skills and thought processes. That's great, because answers change a lot, but the way to find the answers doesn't really change. But what form do those process skills take, and dose this really make us better more knowledgeable individuals?

The traditional paradigm would seem to be all about accepting what's come before. To internalize information in a very flat way, that doesn't involve the learner. Accepting and not questioning, this kind of learning is still widely employed, but I feel my life's been working under a different paradigm for a while. Basically, through my theory of knowledge class, through the whole Anytown experience, through my gender studies project, I've been forced to take something of a deconstructionist attitude towards knowledge, and I'm not sure I like this idea. Rather than accept, construct, synthesize information, and reach some sort of clarity, the opposite happens: I have to take a masse of information and break it apart into lots of little pieces. Science, gender, oppression, social science, math, sexuality, identity, and history, rather than build up knowledge, accept what is, we're looking for all the exceptions, all the flaws and while this is a good way to approach knowledge, if nothing else it's put a HUGE crimp in my ability to write effectively.

Within this paradigm, (which I'm starting to feel is just as limiting as the flawed one it replaces) I feel as if I'm obligated to deconstruct everything. To get in there and notice how it's flawed, how the rules and categories society provides don't apply much of the time, how bias skews so much knowledge/information and our interpretation of aforementioned knowledge. But of course everything is flawed, and this is inescapable. But we can't or shouldn't invalidate anything because it's flawed, because then we'd be left with a whole lot of nothing. But you can't accept knowledge as it is, because it's flawed, because it's not right.

I suppose the question I'm looking to answer, is "where does that leave us?" I can't accept flawed information blindly, and I can't deconstruct everything into an unrecognizable pulp. There has to be a middle ground, or so you'd think; but both ends of this spectrum seem to exclude each other. Ironically, the only thing I can think to say right now is "faith." Not really faith in a god sort of way, but faith in an understanding that the information you are working with is reliable, and that your treatment won't do any harm.

Not an easy task.

This difficulty is compounded by the fact that we're not just talking about disciplinary knowledge here, we're also talking about gender and about identity, which is where it gets really difficult. Because on some level I know what makes up my own identity, and I know what society expects, we all do; but on another more intellectual level I also know that this isn't true of everyone. I know that there are exceptions that defy categorization. What do you do? Or, I suppose what can you do?

I've said in the past that the only thing you can do is keep on going, and endure. Because this chaos is what the world seems to exist in. Now there's this whole order in chaos; and chaos in order idea, but I'm not sure how to apply that. So there might be an answer in there somewhere.

So ultimately, I feel stuck and lost. I mean I can continue to function and I can continue to be productive on some level, but I guess the real problem with that is that I don't feel like that would lead to any progress, and just more of the status quo which in it's way is part of the whole flawed traditionalism.

It's a vicious cycle, and I can't get away from it; even when I've tried to remove myself to discuss it. Also, there isn't an end, every statement leads to a question and every question leads us somewhere.

Just as a general commentary, I'd like to say that it's slightly ironic that I've identified this as deconstructionism, because that's a critical school that I'm not fond of. (It should be noted that my opinions of critical schools exist in varying shades of disapproval). Additionally, I think I can finally understand existentialism, which is another paradigm that I don't want to touch, but I can understand it now.

Since there's no logical conclusion for this mess of philosophy and thought, I'm going to end this here, rest assured that I'll get back to it at some point.

But before I go, I offer my most sincere apologies for this entry which must be nearly unintelligible. I look forward to the resulting discussion.

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