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Learning at its Best

It happened so fast that I am uncertain if I saw what I think I saw…


I began winding-up to comment on a post and a response. I was going to take a third-look before putting pen-to-paper (or keyboard to bytes) but no electronic traces were left… I dont’ know if it was self or other-censored — it really doesn’t matter.

A while back I authored a long-winded post suggesting that, despite the use of a common language, an abject failure to communicate exists because each of us has a different interpretation of what we see and hear.

I first saw what I perceived to be a justified expression of outrage. I next saw what I perceived to be an near-total misinterpretation of that expression, followed by a uni-focal perspective on indoctrination-on-one-side versus indoctrination-on-the-other encapsulated within a “this is how you must address an issue” framework.

I wonder if those authors were communicating at all. I wonder if “the framework” is corrupt and corrupting.

I wonder if I am too much a phenomenologist, and if I simply misinterpreted what I think I saw…

Please help me out here — Did you see what I saw? Do I Need New Glasses? Should I re-grind my lenses?

About Brent Snavely

A construct of upbringing and society, holder of a BS. JD and an MA, I have practiced law more than 25 years. "The Truth shall set you free", but only if it is a Personal Truth that is based upon facts. Parrhesia may be humankind's only hope (see,


9 thoughts on “It happened so fast that I am uncertain if I saw what I think I saw…

  1. I heard someone say recently, “John, you’re getting wrapped up in the language. It’s all semantics.” Then I thought about the Socratic dialogues. It always started with language. It was always a vocabulary lesson first. You think you know leisure? What is the meaning of leisure? And before they even got down to “what is best?” they struggled for hours to define, “what is?”

    Posted by John T. Spencer | June 29, 2012, 11:20 am
    • Did they also get down to conjugating the verb?

      I frequently get hung up on being overly artistic and abstract, or too blunt and concrete. There is clearly an art to writing, whether about a fictional situation, and argument or more a general discussion, and this is a “tough crowd” sometimes. I think Mr. Chisley is doing a pretty good job…


      Posted by Brent Snavely | June 29, 2012, 2:59 pm
  2. I got stuck in the same situation with a comment ready to go. The post was moved to draft status; to my knowledge, no one but the author has edited it – I’d keep an eye out for its re-emergence sometime.

    As a reminder to all, including our dear readers, we are a community of discourse and critical friendship, so we should strive to avoid uncivil and inhospitable stances in our conversations.

    All the best,

    Posted by Chad Sansing | June 29, 2012, 11:48 am
    • We just took it down because of some editing and formatting problems, nothing to do with content or disagreements. I was helping Jget it fixed and got busy. Sorry, should be back up tonight. Thanks for looking out for the community.

      Posted by dloitz | June 29, 2012, 2:03 pm
  3. Great conversation as usual! A few thoughts: I agree that the vocabulary conversation should happen first; BUT I’m of the opinion that awareness of differences is the minimum acceptable level, not necessarily agreement on vocabulary. That does put the need for consideration of what is heard and what is to be said at an even more critical level. As often happens to all of us (including the original post), I’m less happy with this thought as I put this comment together …

    As others may or may not be aware, I’m a follower / practitioner of Stephen Covey writings. One of his original habits is “seek first to understand and then to be understood” which is in keeping with this dialogue. To me, a key to this habit is understanding, not agreement, being the objective. So I’d suggest there are three levels: vocabulary, understanding, and then dialogue. To be, there’s much to be learned by all at each of the levels. And, I’m convinced that, consistent with Covey’s latest book (“The 3rd Alternative”), the successful third level efforts reaching that Third Or Better Alternative depends upon success at the first two levels.

    Posted by John Bennett | June 29, 2012, 12:38 pm
    • I like many of Mr. Covey’s principles, and while dialogue is important, I think it may also be a great barrier to understanding one another. Laid atop one’s vocabulary are mediating cultural factors and personal interpretations that make language, a merely symbolic re, incredibly complicated. I think it amazing any of us ever ‘communicate’ at a deep level using mere words. 🙂

      What struck me was that Mr. Chisley’s message seemed clear (I confirmed my interpretation with him) and that the respondent appeared to entirely miss that message. If the respondent is who I think him to be, his blog pages suggest to me that he is in sympatico with Mr. Chisley’s sentiments, and I imagine they are only two degrees off from one another, if even that. I hope the respondent returns to help clarify matters


      Posted by Brent Snavely | June 29, 2012, 2:53 pm
    • David,

      Thanks much — It was what I thought it was 🙂

      The respondent was who I thought him to be. The thematic lines of his blog suggests he thinks along the lines of the discussions here at the COOP… I do hope he returns for a bit of proactive discussion.

      Best wishes,

      Posted by Brent Snavely | June 29, 2012, 5:30 pm
  4. I am glad Mr. Chisley’s post is back up because, in my rare moments of lucid ‘adult’ thought, I realize that we adults, together with the generational cascades of adults who preceded us, have really screwed the pooch.

    The voice of youths of all colors, SES backgrounds, levels of academic attainment and viewpoints are far more important than the voice of adults in connection with the manufactured Ed Crisis for one simple reason — The youths do and will suffer the consequences of whatever foolishness adults impose upon them.

    We adults would do well to consider why we sometimes think that, “Golly, if we let the kids do what they want the world will go to hell in a hand-basket.” There seem to be false information cascades that we blindly follow. We (falsely) believe certain things have always been good and just. Key among these appears the false belief that “the educated” are somehow superior to those who are not, that the “certificated” have greater value than the un-certificated, and that some certificates, especially those that cost a great deal of money to attain/acquire, evidence the apex of superiority and the right to control others…

    I believe consideration should be given to the ingrained cultural and societal issues involved, for it is by design, not simple error, that shifting standards parallel the abilities of those who have, across the span of generational lines, a strong foundation for meeting or exceeding those standards. This notion struck me hard when I began considering the educational attainments of my adoptive family. Both parents graduated from undergrad; one a school teacher and one of whom attained an MDiv. Three aunts on my A-mom’s side graduated from college and became school teachers. Three uncles on my A-dad’s side attained MAs and one aunt earned three MAs and a PhD. Those who remain alive, all being over 80 years of age, told me the same story: Education is (not was, mind you) the key to success. Yes, education “worked” for them. It worked in their day, in their time, in their particular socio-cultural circumstances…

    …but they are dying…

    From my discussions with the remainders of my extended adoptive family, I have concluded their recollections are inaccurate, and further, entirely divergent from the reality of lives that were and are lived outside their social framework, a framework involving deep ties to White European heritage, male headed households, multi-generational acquisition of property and its devolution to progeny, “salvation” and the ingrained belief that America exists as a “Shining City upon a Hill” nation-state in which all are ‘equal’.

    I have carefully watched the posts of the youths involved here, noting their grammar, spelling, word usage and the responses to their posts. Patterns have emerged; patterns almost certainly related to the social framework described above.

    I ask the females here for a reality check, and specifically those who hold “feminist” viewpoints, as to whether they see patterns not only in connection with the youths’ posts, but other posts as well. I ask for their insights because I surmise that their bodies, whether or not ‘of color’, give them away and trigger both overt and implicit biases that become reified in various texts that are posted here.

    Posted by Brent Snavely | June 30, 2012, 9:43 am

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