Friday, September 26, 2008

Cognating about cognition

I just finished a small blizzard with snickers. I have developed, over a lifetime, a rather nasty habit of rewarding, consoling, and comforting myself with sweets. I just took my first test in PhD school and it left me with a headache that only Dairy Queen can cure.

The test was 61 multiple choice questions wherein my professor was attempting to assess complex achievement via interpretive exercises. I only know this because it comes from chapter 9 in the textbook for the class on assessment that I am teaching. Unfortunately, this fact was not included on the test I took.

The professor says he is not trying to trick us, yet somehow we feel tricked when it is all said and done. As students, who possess hopefully at least half of his intelligence, we are pretty much working on a different level. What is merely an interesting puzzle for him is an insurmountable challenge for us. If this is what it feels like to be an emergent psychology student, I wonder if I will ever be fluent.

Even though it may not be apparent in my test grade, I am learning in this class. Not only do I have a whole set of new vocabulary terms (that I need to remind myself are useful only to people studying this topic, so probably I should not try to remember them by slipping them into casual conversation, although this would be an excellent example of metacognition.) but I seem to see examples of what he teaches in every corner of my day.

In other words this prof, has begun to change my way of thinking and changed my way of viewing the world just by torturing me with a test. (Umm, I mean, by giving me this wonderful opportunity to show him what I have learned.) I now see the world through the eyes of theories, schemas and paradigms. I am not sure, yet, if this is helpful, but there it is none-the-less.

God changes us, when we aren’t watching. When we think we are doing our best to survive He comes in and changes our way of looking at the world. When we want to veer off onto our own path, when we want to pull out our own map and make a new plan for how to get to our destination, God plants a detour. We think we are going out of our way and He knows we are headed right where we should be going. As much as I like to plan out every detail, I think I am glad that I cannot see the entire itinerary.

With God’s help I will just trust and drive through this journey. However, I will stop at any Dairy Queens along the way. Old habits are hard to break.

He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs;

there He brought the hungry to live and they founded a city where they could settle.

They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest;

He blessed them and their numbers greatly increased,

and He did not let their herds diminish.

Psalm 107:35-38


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thoughts. I just read your last three posts! They have touched me! They have certainly redirected me ... it has been a challenging three weeks!
Blessings on your journey!
Suzanne Braun

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your most thoughtful and unique perspective on what it means to be a student in today's world. Yes we are being walked into new thought processes and are being encouraged to adopt academic theory's, logic, and models. Somehow I think that though this is a way to facilitate flexibility of mind, it can also overtake the common person with attention to details that do not necessarily matter in the larger scheme of real being. As you have indicated, there is a purpose to the methods employed, however, I hope there will be many more students such as yourself who maintain a connectivity with their faith in a greater plan know by God.