extensionality

All posts tagged extensionality

On the gaming blog Kotaku, a poll was put up asking people what would be the best console to introduce children to. One avid reader replied with "none" and proceeded to write a very cogent piece on why, for the sake of his children's creativity and physical well-being, responsible parents should limit their media saturation.

And it's as if all that has ever been wrong with education in America was summed up for me in one deficient diatribe. There is no doubt video-games (or any media) can greatly affect people. What he's completely ignored, as the median figurehead of the modern parent, is that PEDAGOGY FAILS WITHOUT INTENSIONALITY. Repeat after me.

PEDAGOGY FAILS WITHOUT INTENSIONALITY.
PEDAGOGY FAILS WITHOUT INTENSIONALITY.
PEDAGOGY FAILS WITHOUT INTENSIONALITY.

What does this mean? How is this philosophological abstraction the damning mark on what seems to be a reasonable argument? Bear with me.

The inexperienced parent teaches only by example. He picks and chooses the "influences" his child encounters. He teaches by EXTENSION. In the very worst degree, it becomes learning by rote. Extensional education means a set of objects of like characteristics are given to represent X, and are constituent examples of a concept. This is backwards.

Teaching INTENSIONALLY, we describe a concept, and encourage the child to filter out what he ascribes to this concept. We teach with meaning. To treat games, books, or comic books all as GTA, Harry Potter, and X-Men fluff, the child will absorb them as fluff meant to be consumed in disposable glory one hour a day after homework. Instead, they should be treated as a lesson in social tracking of the underprivileged, a lesson in the evil that complacency engenders, and a lesson in prejudice and distrust. Without context, there is no meaning, and without meaning, there is little to learn.

This requires parent participation. However, in this parent's case, he obviously had the time to spend, he just categorically demeans these into mere "necessary diversions." Before the child can even come to a conclusion on the literary importance of these objects, they've already been established as fluff. But in order to teach intensionally, parents need to educate themselves and actually experience these scapegoats themselves. Otherwise, they cannot provide context, the very context from which creativity eroded children read a book and decide whether its value to them is Hamlet or Nancy Drew.

What's really interesting to me is that today, when we confront a child, we ask "can you do this." This word, "can," replaced "will," "may" and "might" and it robs us of choice. "Can" asks if we have the ability to do it. It doesn't ask if we have the desire to do it. When America was a more puritanical country, our answer was "I shall do it," taking away our choice, our intentionality, and putting the occurrence of the event in God's hands. Today we say "I will do it," but not to children. Subconsciously, we command and demand, and finally present answers instead of asking them to search themselves. We say "you will do it," and the child's "will" is decided.

It's time to teach children that anything dismissed without intelligent reference will enter the mind and be regurgitated back up as uncreative thought, because that is the way it went in. Can it be done with all games? No, but the child needs to learn how to make the distinction as well. Or the shall remain a student of circumstance and not of choice.

"I believe in having a few pupils at one time as it requires a constant alert observation of each individual in order to establish a direct relationship. A good teacher can never be fixed in a routine… each moment requires a sensitive mind that is constantly changing and constantly adapting. A teacher must never impose this student to fit his favourite pattern; a good teacher functions as a pointer, exposing his student's vulnerability (and) causing him to explore both internally and finally integrating himself with his being. Martial art should not be passed out indiscriminately."

-Bruce Lee, for whom nothing had nothing to learn from.