Category Archives: #gedivt

w9/ The Virtue of Tolerance


This week’s readings are my best so far. I am glad to be introduced to Paulo Freire’s work and his approach to teaching/learning -or life. His criticism against the tabula rasa view of (student) mind is truly r-evolutionary. His circular shaped understanding of teaching and learning as well as his focus on curiosity as the motor force of education (and life?) are truly inspiring. As an advocate of character education, I liked his focus on (growth of) the person, rather than the content of teaching. I absolutely agree with him that the best way to deal with oppression is to learn the tools (aka language) of the oppressor well.

His overall approach to “life” seems pretty Hegelian to me, from his assumption of the inevitably curious/striving-for-growth “nature” of the student/person (aka Spirit), to his focus on the synthesis as opposed to be stuck in the thesis (master-oppressor) and anti-thesis (slave-oppressed) dichotomy. I am kinda surprised to see that a seemingly-Hegelian approach created such an impact on the higher-education tradition here that is primarily “dominated” by the analytic school of thought.

Yet, after (and beyond) all these solid, realistic and idealistic conceptualizations, I believe Freire’s most important contribution to the theory (and practice) of idealism (in educational settings) is the “virtue of tolerance” that he defines as the ultimate duty of the humankind as a means of communicating which in turn leads to new possibilities (aka learning).

We used to taught that it is the “conflict” per se that is the necessary and sufficient condition for growth. We used to think appearance of anti-theses, as opposed to theses are necessary and sufficient conditions for the syntheses to occur. We used to believe, if the Conflict is real enough, then the magic (i.e. synthesis) happens. May be that’s why, for centuries, we keep deepening, widening, highlighting the theses and anti-theses, making the differences deeper, wider and brighter by the (un)conscious wish for the magic to happen: If we can make the differences salient enough, if the black would be the blackest while white is the whitest, then gray magically happens!

Developmentally, makes sense. At the stage of narcissism, all babies have this egocentric and magical mode of thinking. Many developmental psychologists agree that, the thinking/feeling processes of humankind seem to stuck at the stage of narcissism.

Freire’s incredibly elegant and singular contribution that growth happens only by the means of acceptance, is a ground-breaking shift of perspective, in my opinion. We have already started to experience this phenomenon thanks to rise of the person-centered approaches, yet Freire seems to nail it. That is, tolerance is the magic key opening the door of the magical synthesis: tolerance to oneself, tolerance to other, tolerance as a virtue. Tolerance to us in them, and tolerance to them in us. Tolerance to the oppressor in the oppressed, and tolerance to the oppressed in the oppressor. Tolerance, since the positions change, life goes on, and it is never the same river again. Tolerance, since without the condition of light, white or black are just the colorless-same.

I believe, introjecting this perspective, accepting the acceptance, will help us more to figure out the nature of change, so that as humankind, we can more realistically walk through our idealistic goal -of reaching best versions of ourselves.

w7/ Inclusiveness in Academia


I really appreciate the movement of including the issue of inclusiveness in the Academia, by the means of publications, courses, departments, campaigns, activities, and events. I do think that these actions help the elephants visible in the field, that reduce the (un-)conscious blindness of all sorts of diversity. With all that, I also think that that there is a need for continuous evaluation on whether these actions are effectively creating a change among the students, and for research practices aiming to increase the effectiveness of inclusiveness education.

In my experience, the common way of inclusiveness education in undergraduate studies is including one chapter (equivalent to approximately one week [two classes])named sth like “Diverse Populations” divided with subsections like blacks, yellows, purples, blues, hazels etc. and basically providing some strange stereotypical signages, as if we are reading through a visual zoo. For instance, a random sentence from a diversity chapter of a book I am currently teaching says: “Many African Americans drink almost exclusively on the weekends, traditionally on a time for relaxation, visitation, and celebration” (Fisher & Harrison, 2013, p.64), as if a “person” who is a “normal” alcohol drinker can not be like that. One another sentence says: “Another critical issue for counselors is to understand a racial/ethnic client’s story” (Fisher & Harrison, 2013, p.79), as if understanding the person’s story is different than understanding the racial/ethnic client. By the way, is there anybody who knows what the term of “racial/ethnic client” means? Anyways.

I truly, really, deeply understand the well intentions of the authors of this book (or the other educators —since these kind of sentences are common in the textbooks I saw until now). They seem to work really hard: they cite various research published in well established journals, various projects funded by well established foundations, yet my overall impression after reading signages like that is that I am basically asked to develop an educated-blindness. That is, based on reading those signages, I am being asked to deepen and widen my stereotypes about the certain “species” involved in this virtual zoo, without actually developing an inclusive attitude.

This educated-blindness reflects itself in a variety of forms, like having/showing knowledge about diversity, being able to talk about diversity, claiming of an advocacy of inclusiveness but at the times of real interaction, failing to do/be inclusive, or rationalizing the actually non-inclusive attitudes with other reasons. For instance, most of the experiences of the international students that we have a chance to listen two weeks ago, can be interpreted from the lens of non-inclusiveness, yet I am pretty sure that if the “perpetrators” are asked to explain their actions, almost all of them would provide rationales that have absolutely no relation with non-inclusiveness. And I do think that by behaving so they are not just being hypocrites or just being  inherently bad. I do think that the current education/living system promotes these behaviors and attitudes.

I think most of the non-inclusiveness comes from just lack of experience and fear. Fear of all sorts, but basically fear of unfamiliar. Difference is just anxiety provoking and it is innate. And all we are just experiencing this uncanny feeling when we confront with an unfamiliarity. Many research also support this hypothesis, including the well known harvard implicit racism test that can be found here: , which reflects that racism (and other non-inclusive attitudes) are strongly correlated with unfamiliarity and fear.

Freud describes the fear of unfamiliar with the term “unheimlich” that can be translated as uncanny, and Lacan sets the uncanniness, the anxiety at the core of human existence. As does the various philosophers including Heidegger, Husserl, and Sartre. So, I think, before heating the discussions with divisions, we need to sit and listen the other being (whether s/he is inclusive or not, or familiar to us or not). Since we are all humans, eventually the familiarity will reveal itself, that will soothe the anxiety.

In this regard, I do think that the strongest tool to promote inclusiveness as a mean to reach the best versions of ourselves and help people do/be their best is to work on the principle of familiarity. Neurologically speaking, without including limbic system (aka emotions), and just focusing the prefrontal cortex (aka thoughts), we can not create effective learning. Learning happens when the brain is involved in the process as a whole. Thus, rather than setting signages for human zoos, we can invite and welcome the personal stories and highlight the similarities, rather than getting lost in the rabbit holes of differences. Here is an amazingly wonderful speech by Chimamanda Ngozi, named The Danger of Single Story, showing how the prefrontal cortex focused training induced educated-blindness effects the relationships and providing some delicate insights on how similar we humans actually are, enjoy if you did not before <3


Oct 10, 2015

w5/ Imagination


Last week for my MOT class, I got to take the teaching styles inventory by Grasha- Riechmann and found out that although my facilitator/delegator style of teaching can be advantageous, it can also be disadvantageous for the students who need more direction, and supervision. Interestingly, at the same day, when I was about to introduce a new discussion in the class aiming the students to integrate various conceptual information in a contextual manner, some of the students asked me to show/tell them clearly what I want them to do, and how I want them to think. Realizing I’m living in my own infj-centric way of learning/teaching, and yes -not all students are like me-, was definitely a teaching moment for me.

In this regard, the Robert Talbert article was quite a reminder that:

– Learning also happens by the means of listening and observing (remember the long, boring lectures that served as models for your thought processes).

– Structured thinking and a solid conceptual knowledge are necessary in order to be able to think creatively (remember picasso: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”).

– Learning through sharing experience and personal stories help. We love stories, we are stories.

– Tying the contextual dots when introducing the concepts help new neural pathways to be formed, make the knowledge essential, effective and easier to retrieve. Who cares of a knowledge, if it is not retrievable? It does not matter if there is a cake-house in the deep forest, if you can not find it.

I guess particularly the last point is in line with the assumptions of Mark Carnes. The intellectual games help the students to develop new neural pathways and strengthen the already present ones. Yet, at first, you have to learn what the basic concepts are, how the games are played, as James Paul Gee mentions. When there is a stimulation in the brain, the students become no longer interested in other mind-killing/time-wasting tools, as the potatoes happily grow under the fertile soil instead of developing sprouts when they are on a garage.


Sep 19, 2015

w4/ Assessment

The readings and watchings this week helped me to broaden my perspective with regard to assessment in education. I liked the assessment tips provided by Alfie Kohn, particularly the portfolio approach. And I also liked Dan Pink’s formulation of motivation as the collection of three elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose. I feel like, the main take-away from this class is that teaching is a form of art. Instruct your class as if you’re cooking, painting, knitting or sculpturing. Thou instruct your class like you are performing a piece of art.

First, intend to produce the piece of art (cheesecake, or class), then choose good ingredients (chocolate chips, cream cheese, or readings, watchings, discussion topics) that can produce your expected outcomes in the best way possible (cheesecake with a chocolate swirl, or knowledge and ideas with good judgment, and empathy skills). Then, mix the ingredients in an integrated amount and order with a sensitivity of an artist who is aware of the science of the ingredients (a piece of salt balances the sweetness of cheesecake, and provides a grounded taste, or balanced scheduling of the readings, assignments and assessments provides the chunk of knowledge to be built in an integrated, grounded way). And as for the delish, put a piece from your soul, as Thomas Keller says, “A recipe has no soul. As the cook, one must bring soul to the recipe.” Then, finally, enjoy the view (Bonappetit <3).

What particularly leads me to the art metaphor with regard to teaching is that the more I dive into the class materials, the more I’m realizing the essentiality of balancing the process and content in the educational context. Although in today’s performance culture, it is very easy to regard everything as pieces or art, we can identify the good art by sensing the internalized knowledge mixed with creativity on the piece. What makes the class good (inspiring, memorable, effective, meaningful) is not only having/transferring the scientific (or conceptual) knowledge about the “stuff” but also (re)creating the knowledge by adding individuality, creativity, uniqueness -soul. As a micro piece of teaching, I feel like assessment also reflects this principle: It is about knowing the basics, the nature of the basics, integrating the knowledge of basics in a creative, soulful way and coming up with a unique, individualized understanding.

I strongly believe that the ideas are formed on the basis of solid conceptual back-grounds. So, in my classes 60% of the students’ grades comes from the conceptual assessment, including exams and quizzes. They can choose how to fulfill (if they want to) the remaining 40% of their grades, from a menu of assignments including reflective assignments based on volunteering in class relevant settings, attending conferences, meetings or workshops, preparing presentations, or papers, interviewing with class relevant people on class relevant topics, writing critical papers by watching class relevant films, or reading class relevant books. I also plan to invite the students in the beginning of the semester to come and talk with me if they have an assignment idea as an individually contracted one.

Until now, the students seems to like having a variety of options. They like feeling autonomous to make decisions and to create a meaning out of the material they are exposed to. They can choose the assignments on the basis of their purpose in life, their abilities and interests, and build up a portfolio. As a part of the class, a student just started to volunteer in a class relevant research team, while another is interviewing with the counselors that she wants to be in the future. As Pink also points out I think that when there is a fairness with regard to assessment and there is a free space in which the students can play as they want to, then grades would not be the priority,, they just just enjoy the view.

w3/ Another Brick in the Wall

Well, one more mini-post for this week:

Thinking about what learning is, I recalled my first undergraduate class, which was an introductory course with 200+ students. I was late for 2-3 minutes and when entered the class, saw the first may be 2-3 rows were full of students with notepads on their laps. “Oh my goodness,” I thought, “what a huge class!”. Then, I moved to the back rows, found a seat at the very back and sat. The dark blue powerpoints were flowing on the screen, the instructor had put some little, shiny, yellow stars on some bullet points, and said on a terribly echoing microphone “Annnddd, these will be on the test”.. Thinking of dark blue background was not a wise choice (since I was not able to read the text from the very back) and recalling the scenes from Another Brick in the Wall (yes, I was young at that times), I caved in, checked the textbook and saw that the starred bullet points were the bold-ed ones.Then I left the class, did not attend to any and got a good grade in the end and now remember nothing from that textbook -besides how expensive it was.

Now I am realizing I was so very lucky to be in the classes of inspiring and encouraging teachers prior and after the class I mentioned above. So that, my passion for learning never deceased. In this regard, I can resonate with the students who drops out from the school. That would be very easy actually. For instance, that class could be my very first experience in the “education system”, and I heard many stories similar to that one. Even in last class, somebody mentioned how things are going on in kindergartens. The second class I attended could be the same. And I am not sure I would be motivated to keep going..

I feel like my definition of learning will improve as the semester continues. Yet, at this point, my 6-word sentence is as following: learning is wanting to be involved. and all the connotations of this sentence.


sep 6, 2015

w3/ Educational Climate

Ken Robinson is a great discovery for me, thanks #gedivt. I can resonate with his approach, especially his focus on the educational climate. Michael Wesch’s focus on creating an interactive space in the classroom is also in the line of Robinson’s observations: there is no such thing like “not cut out for school”. There are the right environments in which learning and growth is “evocated” or not the right ones. Life is inevitable. I agree with these statements wholeheartedly.

While describing his person-centered approach in psychotherapy, Carl Rogers describes a similar process, by referring to potato sprouts:

“I remember that in my boyhood, the bin in which we stored our winter’s supply of potatoes was in the basement, several feet below a small window. The conditions were unfavorable, but the potatoes would begin to sprout—pale white sprouts, so unlike the healthy green shoots they sent up when planted in the soil in the spring. But these sad, spindly sprouts would grow 2 or 3 feet in length as they reached toward the distant light of the window. The sprouts were, in their bizarre, futile growth, a sort of desperate expression of the directional tendency I have been describing. They would never become plants, never mature, never fulfill their real potential. But under the most adverse circumstances, they were striving to become. Life would not give up, even if it could not flourish. In dealing with clients whose lives have been terribly warped, in working with men and women on the back wards of state hospitals, I often think of those potato sprouts. So unfavorable have been the conditions in which these people have developed that their lives often seem abnormal, twisted, scarcely human. Yet, the directional tendency in them can be trusted. The clue to understanding their behavior is that they are striving, in the only ways that they perceive as available to them, to move toward growth, toward becoming. To healthy persons, the results may seem bizarre and futile, but they are life’s desperate attempt to become itself. This potent constructive tendency is an underlying basis of the person-centered approach.”

I believe what Rogers describe as the person centered approach in psychotherapy (characterized with three elements: unconditional positive regard, congruence, and empathy) can be applied to all sorts of interactions in our lives, including education. I never met with any student or teacher,, or person in general, who did not responded positively when they are approached with acceptance, genuineness, and understanding. Potatoes bring sprouts when there is no soil in which they can grow into their bests. Students get lost in social media, because the powerpoints they are “exposed” to do not form the fertile environment for them in which their physical, psychological, social, and systemic abilities can grow.

There was a great post-it among the post-its in a video we watched in class: “I can google it”. I think the beautiful trick in education is that exact point: to motivate the students to be interested in the material. In class, while talking about technology tools, it was mentioned that a student “honestly” saying that s/he was lost in facebook, at that time. Agreeing with the content perspective, I also think that thanks to the holding environment the instructor created in the class in which the students feel like “their experience matter”, the issue is solved. Not necessarily the content, the tools.. but the environment, itself.

In line with the assessment issue discussed in the class, I believe when the students experience the class as a safe enough environment in which they can reflect themselves freely in their authenticity, the standardized testing will not be perceived as a standardization at all. As Robinson already mentions, the issue is not really the standard facts or not. It would not make sense to ask students to write a 500-word essay on a “2+2=?” question. Yet, under the educational climate in which the students feel like their presence is important, the standard questions like 2+2 will just form the tiny steps toward their best selves, that I believe, is the ultimate aim of education.


Sept 4, 2015

w2/ On connected learning

On Connected Learning Videos

Okay, I guess I get the point: There is internet, and it is all around the world. It is World Wide Web. It is ruling the world and, as everything, education system needs to be incorporated to this new artifact. But..

I was trained as a clinical psychologist in Turkey, worked in the addiction treatment field for years before deciding to pursue a teaching career, applying to a PhD program and being here. One of the major themes in my clinical practice as well as social life that perplexes me each and every time is how the touch-screen telephones, ipads or whatevers contribute to build up a senseless culture in which nothing is touchy any more. As if, the more sense-itive the technological devices become, the less sensitive the generation becomes.

Today, a student shared one of the acquainted news: A woman recorded on her phone how a deadly accident happened and how the person (who is recorded) is died. Instead of calling the police or ambulance, she just recorded it.. Okay, may be this is a bit intense. What about this:  A few days ago, I saw two young people taking pictures with a dead mole laying on the road. Not attempting to take its body from the road, not ignoring it, but laughing and taking pictures. That, hurts me. Hurts my humanity.


I guess I should admit that I have a no technology policy in my senior level class. The use of computers, mobile phones are not allowed. I do not use powerpoints and I go as-low-tech-as possible. I bring newspaper columns and allow the students to discuss on them. And contrary to the tone of back-voice at the second video, although I do not need to, I believe there is a beauty in walking two blocks away to get a newspaper. I encourage the students to draw what they experience about the topics and issues and let them talk about their experience in dyads, small groups and in large class. I ask them to know each and every classmate’s name, and to know something about each other..

My definition of connectedness is based on “real” interaction, and I am not sure whether as The humanity we are there yet.  Dr. Nelson mentioned a great point regarding the second video she shared in the class. In the video, the back-voice was mentioning about “connectedness” and (may be as a definition) showed a student sending an e-mail to an instructor-with-a-moustache, and he was writing back, and bumm: connection! I am not sure whether connectedness means communicating through e-mails, mooc’s or smileys..

<<<< .|. >>>>

Saying all that, I just want to make sure that I am not against the use of technology, not at all. The main point I would like to make is, I am against to be used by technology, to get lost in the dreamy abundance of its resources, and to prioritize technology over humane values. I would like to state that we should incorporate the use of internet TO the education system. It should be a tool, not a world wide web that is wider than the human.


August 27, ’15