For ToK tomorrow…

read the selection #6 of the Postscript and be prepared to answer the question:

Do Scientific Revolutions constitute progress according to Kuhn?


Some reflections about your reflections…

Although I’d appologize if all these words were mine, they’re not.  So I won’t.  They’re yours.  That makes them important.

These words are from your feedback based on the Kuhn jigsaw activity we did in class as we were reading The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  They abound with insights and compliments about your peers – and some thoughts about learning as well.  Although I wasn’t able to include all the responses, I tried to capture an example of each idea shared.  If two students shared similar things, I included only one to simplify.  The first survey responses were about the role of questions in the process of learning.

 There were questions that helped clarify –

“Katarina asked a question that was in my mind, but I did not verbalize it. She asked how one of the chapter’s main points related to science in the present.”  Another student said “I liked the questions that Katarina asked because they were clarifying questions or questions that brought to attention facts that seemed contradictory in terms of the different chapters.”

“Grace asked a lot of great questions. Some of them were just clarifying questions that I didn’t even know I needed until she asked them, but others pointed out holes in what we were being told, hence allowing the presenter to go back and fill in some of the blanks.”

“Rachel asked a lot of really good questions. Often people would use terms that left things ambiguous, and she was really good at asking what the definitions or the relationships were.”

There were questions that helped connect and simplify –

“Andra … asked clarifying questions that I was too embarrassed to ask … I think those questions led to a lot of other meaningful discussions and questions.”

“Jessica posed great questions as she often asked people to simplify Kuhn’s complex information and why his examples were pertinent to his arguments.”

“Nirupama asked good questions that I was also wondering about.”  Another student seconded that, saying “Nirupama asked questions that would help simplify and clarify the notes that we had taken, making each chapter more manageable and bite-sized.”

There were those of you who asked in order to enrich the group’s meaning…

“Stephanie asked the best questions – she asked questions that made me re-evaluate what I had read and what I learned after having read my chapter.”  Another student elaborated: “Stephanie … asked about the relationship between paradigms and normal science, helping me understand the nature of paradigms better.”

One student said “Jackson had the best questions because he placed each of our presentations in regards to each other.” And another added “Jackson asked a lot of questions which made you think and analyze the text. He asked questions like, “where do you see this?” or “how do you know this?”.

And one of the best compliments one can receive is this one about Siddharth.  “Siddharth … helped me learn the most. He asked insightful questions … and was unafraid of asking difficult questions that made the speaker truly think about what they are saying.”

And there were those of you asking your peers to stretch their ideas…

“Louise asked the best questions because she asked questions because they lead us to consider the implications of Kuhn’s contentions.”

And my personal favorite reflection on the value of asking was this simple non-specific response “They all asked questions about my chapter. This forced me to explain it in multiple ways which really helped my understanding.”

There were other compliments about the presentersSome who effectively simplified complex material…

 Elaine did the best job because she was very concise and gave explanations that were easy to understand.”

“I thought that Shruthi did the best job because she summarized the info in an easy to understand way. Some people simply repeated the chapter, while she explained in an easy to understand manner.”

 Andrew did an effective job in explaining and synthesizing the information that was in the chapter that he read.”  Others agreed. “Andrew did an effective job of presenting his chapter (chapter 6). He first posed his thesis, then literally dissected the sentence and used quotes/page numbers to thoroughly explain Kuhn’s points.” And a third said “He not only explained the main points in a clear and concise manner, but also provided examples so that our group could understand the issues on a deeper level.”

“I think Natasha did a good job briefly outlining what her chapter was about. It was easy to understand even though I had not read the chapter before. ”

“Camille did the most effective job because she utilized understandable examples in her presentation to demonstrate the points that Kuhn was saying. She was concise in converting Kuhn’s lengthy terminology to something more understandable by a layman.”

 Sarah had a very effective presentation because she provided examples to explain each idea Kuhn put forth. She even added her own examples when Kuhn’s got too hardcore/complex.”

Many of your peers appreciated particular approaches…

 Vincent gave the most effective presentation. He followed the course of the chapter…[with] a more conceptual organization of an already well-organized essay was particularly helpful. He was clear in his presentation.”

“I liked Alex and Brittany’s presentation because it provided a global view of the chapter without going for a page by page summary (which ended up becoming rather tedious).”

“Rahul … took into account that we were taking notes so he didn’t read really fast and just blabber. He shared important quotes and offerred his own insight as well as answer everybody’s questions as best as he could.”

 “Devon’s presentation … outlined the main points, then detailed them effectively. She also provided information by directing us to passages rather than simply telling us what Kuhn contended, which enabled us to more effectively understand both the context and complexity of Kuhn’s ideas.”  Another student said it simply: “Devon really knew what she was talking about. She had good notes and explained things.”

Especially those of you who worked in pairs…

 Daniel and Priya did a good job of presenting because they were able to work together to explain the concepts in their chapter.”

Maddie and Emily had the most effective presentation. They are both very confident people, therefore their explanation of the facts in the first chapter, while outlining their own personal thoughts about what Kuhn is trying to communicate. In addition, their information was very thorough, and I was able to take very detailed notes from their presentation.”

“Nitin and Lexi were the most effective presenters (they presented together). Neither person dominated their explanation. They elaborated on what one another said, and explained things in slightly different ways when something was confusing, which helped the understanding of their topic in the group.”

Others who helped you connect ideas…

 A few who effectively handled questions…

 Carlene’s presentation was the most effective because I found her presenatation the easiest to understand. She broke the information down using simpler terms, and answered questions reasonably when there were questions, which allowed us to better understand the chapter and information presented.”

“Ashwathi was a very great presenter because when we had questions, she was able to explain it fullly and in detailed. She really understood the chapter and was able to explain when needed.”

And still others who made you think beyond the material…

“Michael had a good presentation because he led us to different questions that arose as we were presented the information in order to gain more insight.”

And many of you had things to say about what you learned…

About the reading… “Reading difficult texts must be taken slowly and parts by parts, like paragraphs, must be understood instead of sentence by sentence. It’s more important to understand the idea rather than what each word means. This makes the reading process easier and more understandable.”

“The moral of this activity for me was that difficult texts necessitate a breaking down and creation of an hierarchy of ideas under the umbrella of the general topic(s).”

“I learned that it takes many read-throughs before we can understand a difficult text such as this. I personally had to reread several passages before understanding what Kuhn was trying to explain, and even after that, my knowledge of the passages were further advanced with discussion with other people who had read my chapter.”

As for notetaking…”Highlight. Highlight, highlight, highlight. Armed with a highlighter, my mind finally began to make sense of these jumbled words.” Another said “It is helpful to create landmarks in the text to help you find your bearings as you move through it.”

And as for thinking ahead to what you will do with the information, “The use of various colored pens in critical reading helped me a lot in this process. Just by underlining key quotes in red and key ideas in blue helped me organize my thoughts and think about what I need to present.”

Outlines seemed helpful to many “By taking notes and making an outline, I solidified my own understanding. It really made me search through the text and reread to find Kuhn’s main points. It also helped me break down his main points so that I understood them and the implications behind Kuhn’s reasoning. Next time I read a challenging text I will remember to make an outline of the author’s main points, so I can link them and understand the author’s implications.”

Another student had a different strategy for the same end product “For me, keeping the “idea pages” was really helpful… keeping pages assembled with quotes on normal science, paradigms, anomalies, discoveries…  the outline was still useful, but that suggestion for organization really helped.”

And as for what I learned…

 From reading your responses, there were many interesting details –

  • the number of students who contributed significantly
  • the number of ways questions seemed to help learners
  • the question doesn’t just help the one asking it… but it often meets the needs of others – or inspires them to deeper thought

Another student suggested that (s)he is changing how ideas are viewed:

I learned that sometimes it’s necessary to comprehend the usefulness of examples rather than comprehend the examples themselves. Some of the science was far above my level so it was more helpful to see how they fit into Kuhn’s explanations than to understand them.”

I also appreciated this comment about the role ‘explanation’ plays in knowing: “I learned that difficult texts can often be better understood simply through the process of trying to summarize and internalize the arguments made in the text. When I forced myself to explain Kuhn’s arguments to myself and to others, I found that I was forced to pursue a deeper level of understanding than I would have otherwise attained.”

That comment, and many others really made me think.

Thank you.