Stephen in his post of Having Reasons mentions about the importance of reasons in making statements in a connectivist environment.
Owning your own reasons is probably the most critical starting point, and ending point, in personal learning and personal empowerment. To undertake personal learning is to undertake learning for your own reasons, whatever they may be, and the outcome is, ultimately, your being able to articulate, examine, and define those reasons.
What I am after is an articulation of how we would come to be able to make such statements in a connectivist environment. How connectivism moves beyond being a ‘mere’ forming of associations, and allows for a having, and articulation, of reasons.
Stephen also mentions the importance and need of a good story in a theory:
… and, maybe a bit more accurately, there is a good story here (it is the content matter of the Critical Literacies course) and what we need to be able to state is how and where this fits into learning.
Ulop asks here about what story means to Stephen in his post of How we know
Yes. There needs to be a story here. We need some account of this. Otherwise there’s a big black box in the middle of the theory, which would make it no better than all the other theories.
I have mentioned about story in learning here. And so my story continues here…
Photo: From Flickr
Throughout the past two decades (from the 90 to the 2000s), I was often intrigued by the “Best Sellers” “Self-help” books. The front covers often mentioned: “#1 National Bestseller, followed by the number of copies sold, written by a famous writer, a leadership or management guru, or a great philosopher, etc. Out of curiosity, and a quest for “knowledge”, I was often tempted to buy them. And after reading the preface, and a browse on the content of some very impressive ones, I would often buy them.
What have I found in common with these self-help books?
The authors often started with Praises for the x edition of the book by various other authors, and the content were filled with rhetorics, compelling great stories (some personal anecdotes, some re-told anecdotes (told by other story tellers), and some remarkable stories of success or resilience. The most impressive ones would be ones giving an account of people who suffered from poor health and serious diseases (like cancer sufferers or seriously ill people), where they continue to combat their disease with strong wills, and sometimes they won, but at other time lost. What were the lessons learnt? That was the story….
Here is a quote written by Rumi – This Longing: Poetry, Teaching Stories and Letters of Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne, page 36 Shambala Publications, 2000.
There are two kinds of intelligence: One acquired, as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts from books and from what the teacher says, collecting information from the traditional sciences as well as from the new sciences.
With such intelligence you rise in the world. You get ranked ahead or behind others in regard to your competence in retaining information. You stroll with this intelligence in an out of fields of knowledge, getting always more marks on your preserving tablets.
There is another kind of tablet, one already completed and preserved inside you. A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness in the center of the chest. This other intelligence does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid, and it doesn’t move from outside to inside through the conduits of plumbing-learning.
Teachers who could tell good stories win. Why are self-help authors so successful in reaching millions of readers, where teachers could only reach a class of students behind close doors, under the traditional education. Again, it was the affordance due to the semiotics (syntax, pragmatics, and semantics) and powerful use of “language of story” all embedded in stories, told and retold by great story tellers.
One of the interesting stories was: Some of those stories were often told by somebody else. So, would the story be a make-up, an exaggeration, or a metaphor? I don’t know, but it is the good story that impresses us.
Another sort of story would relate to our emotions and feelings.
Here are the reactions to disappointment as outlined in Lee B. (1998). The Power Principle – Influence with Honor
Disappointment -> Discouragement -> Depression -> Despondence -> Despair -> Defeat -> Destruction
Lee then explains about power shift – From powerless to powerful with his experience of conducting a five-day leadership development training workshop with the senior members of a large financial group in the Northeast.
New infantryman to commanding officer: “Sir, where is my foxhole?” The officer’s quick reply: “You are standing on it: just throw the dirt out!” Author unknown.
So, what could I conclude? Stories are important means to influence others, and through the use of rhetorical discourse, the story teller could share his or her belief in compelling ways, and that could change the hearts and minds of millions of people.
In research, we could often report on both stories of success and failures, and would then learn from the experience of the stories told by the participants. Those are the stories which would help us in building “knowledge”, understanding learning.
Here below is a story that I received from my beloved sister. It includes even the translation.
Very Important ….especially for those who love to cook and eat ONIONS!!!!!!
非常重要. . . .特別是喜歡烹調及吃洋蔥的人！ ！ ！
In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu. Many of the farmers and their family had contracted it and many died.
1919 年， 當流感造成了四千萬人死亡時， 有一位醫生到各地農場去探視， 看是否可以幫助人們戰勝流感。很多農民和他們家庭感染了流感，很多人因此而死亡。
The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn’t believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.
這位醫生來到一家人家。出乎預料， 這家的每一個人都非常健康。醫生詢問這家的做法與其他人家有何不同， 這家的妻子說她在家裡的每一個房間（ 那時大概也就是兩間吧） 裡放置了一顆沒有剝皮的洋蔥。醫生無法置信， 因此就問是否可以要一顆洋蔥以便放在顯微鏡下觀察觀察。她給了他一顆。醫生觀察時真的在洋蔥上發現了流感病菌。顯然， 洋蔥吸收了病菌， 因此讓這家人保持健康。
Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser in NZ. She said that several years ago many of her employees were coming down with the flu and so were many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must work… ( And no, she is not in the onion business.)
如今， 我從亞利桑那州我的朋友那裡聽到類似的故事。她說幾年前她的很多僱員感染流感， 她的很多顧客也是如此。次年， 她在她的理髮店裡放了幾個果盤， 裡面放了一些洋蔥。令她吃驚的是， 她的員工沒有一個生病的。看來洋蔥真的起作用⋯ （ 真的， 她並不做洋蔥的生意。）
The moral of the story is, buy some onions and place them in bowls around your home. If you work at a desk, place one or two in your office or under your desk or even on top somewhere. Try it and see what happens. We did it last year and we never got the flu.
故事的核心是， 買一些洋蔥吧， 把它們擺放在你的家裡的果盤裡。如果你是坐辦公室的， 在你的辦公室裡， 或者辦公桌下面， 或者在櫃子頂部放置幾顆洋蔥吧。
If this helps you and your loved ones from getting sick, all the better. If you do get the flu, it just might be a mild case.
如果這樣做可以幫助你和你所愛的人不感冒， 那就太好了。如果你仍然得了感冒， 也許會是比較輕微的症狀。
Whatever, what have you to lose? Just a few bucks on onions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
不管結果如何， 你又會有什麼損失呢？ 除了幾顆洋蔥之外！
Now there is a P. S. to this for I sent it to a friend in Oregon who regularly contributes material to me on health issues. She replied with this most interesting experience about onions :
Thanks for the reminder. I don’t know about the farmers story…but, I do know that I contacted pneumonia and needless to say I was very ill…I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion put one end on a fork and then place the forked end into an empty jar…placing the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs… sure enough it happened just like that…the onion was a mess and I began to feel better.
感謝她的提示。我不知道那個農民的故事， 但是我知道我得了肺炎。無需說， 我病的不輕。我讀到一篇文章， 建議把洋蔥的兩頭切掉， 插在叉子上， 然後把叉子 放在花瓶裡， 晚上放在病人身旁。據說， 洋蔥會因為病菌而在次日清晨變黑。果然， 事情跟說的完全一樣。洋蔥看起來糟透了， 但我卻開始好起來。
A nother thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties.
But here is the other important side to remember.
LEFT OVER ONIONS ARE POISONOUS
I have used an onion which has been left in the fridge, and sometimes I don’t use a whole one at one time, so save the other half for later.
我曾經使用雪櫃中餘下來的洋蔥， 有時我不會使用整個洋蔥， 餘下來的會留為下次使用。
Now with this info, I have changed my mind…..will buy smaller onions in the future.
如今有了這些資訊， 我會改變策略. . . . . .日後買些較細小的洋蔥。
I had the wonderful privilege of touring Mullins Food Products, Makers of mayonnaise. Mullins is huge, and is owned by 11 brothers and sisters in the Mullins family. My friend, Jeanne, is the CEO.
有幸地我參觀Mullins Food Products 工廠，沙拉油的生產商。Mullins 工廠很大，由Mullins 家族的11 位兄弟姊妹共同擁有。我的朋友Jeanne 是那兒的行政總裁。
Questions about food poisoning came up, and I wanted to share what I learned from a chemist.
The guy who gave us our tour is named Ed. He’s one of the brothers. Ed is a chemistry expert and is involved in developing most of the sauce formula.. He’s even developed sauce formula for McDonald’s.
為我們作嚮導的是Ed。他是家族的其中一位成員。Ed 是一位化學專家， 大部份沙拉油的調配程式都是由他專門研發出來的。他甚至為麥當勞研發沙拉油配方。
Keep in mind that Ed is a food chemistry whiz. During the tour, someone asked if we really needed to worry about mayonnaise. People are always worried that mayonnaise will spoil. Ed’s answer will surprise you. Ed said that all commercially- made Mayo is completely safe.
記住Ed 是一位食品化學能手。參觀期間， 某人詢問我們是否需要擔心沙拉油。人們經常擔心沙拉油會變壞。Ed 的答案令人感到意外。Ed 說所有在市場上售賣的沙拉油是完全安全的。
“It doesn’t even have to be refrigerated. No harm in refrigerating it, but it’s not really necessary.” He explained that the pH in mayonnaise is set at a point that bacteria could not survive in that environment. He then talked about the quaint essential picnic, with the bowl of potato salad sitting on the table and how everyone blames the mayonnaise when someone gets sick.
『沙拉油甚至無需冷藏。將它冷藏亦無妨但非必要。（注意： 在外國較乾燥低溫的環境下可能無需冷藏）』他解釋， 沙拉油的酸鹼度是設定至細菌無法生存的狀態。然後他講述有些人在野餐時， 吃了放在桌上的馬鈴薯沙拉後感到不適便歸因於沙拉油。
Ed says that when food poisoning is reported, the first thing the officials look for is when the ‘victim’ last ate ONIONS and where those onions came from (in the potato salad?). Ed says it’s not the mayonnaise (as long as it’s not homemade Mayo) that spoils in the outdoors. It’s probably the onions, and if not the onions, it’s the POTATOES.
Ed 說， 當收到食物中毒的報告後， 調查員首先會詢問’中毒者’最後一次吃洋蔥是什麼時間和那些洋蔥是從那裡來的（ 在馬鈴薯沙拉中？ ） Ed 說問題並非出自處於室外的沙拉油變壞所引致（ 除非是家中自製的）。可能是洋蔥所為， 如果不是洋蔥， 那就是馬鈴薯。
He explained, onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion. He says it’s not even safe if you put it in a zip-lock bag and put it in your refrigerator.
It’s already contaminated enough just by being cut open and out for a bit, that it can be a danger to you (and doubly watch out for those onions you put in your hotdogs at the baseball park!)
洋蔥在切開一點點時經已被污染， 可能對您有害（ 需要加倍注意帶往棒球場放在熱狗包內的洋蔥！ ）
Ed says if you take the leftover onion and cook it like crazy you’ll probably be okay, but if you slice that leftover onion and put on your sandwich, you’re asking for trouble. Both the onions and the moist potato in a potato salad, will attract and grow bacteria faster than any commercial mayonnaise will even begin to break down.
Ed 說如果將餘下來的洋蔥完全烹熟可能還可以， 但如果將餘下來的洋蔥切開放在三明治中， 你便自尋煩惱。洋蔥和馬鈴薯沙拉中浸濕了的馬鈴薯， 都非常吸引
細菌， 細菌的繁殖速度較快， 即使市場上買來的任何沙拉油都會開始變壞。
So, how’s that for news? Take it for what you will. I (the author) am going to be very careful about my onions from now on. For some reason, I see a lot of credibility coming from a chemist and a company that produces millions of pounds of mayonnaise every year.’
那麼， 有何高見？ 就我個人所知， 從今以後， 我（ 本文作者） 將會非常慎重處理我的洋蔥。對於來自每年生產無數沙拉油公司的化學專家所提供的寶貴資料， 我
Also, dogs should never eat onions. Their stomachs cannot metabolize onions …..
同時， 切勿給狗隻吃洋蔥。它們的胃部不能消化洋蔥. . . . . .
Please remember it is dangerous to cut onions and try to use it to cook the next day, it becomes highly poisonous for even a single night and creates Toxic bacteria which may cause Adverse Stomach infections because of excess Bile secretions and even Food poisoning.
緊記， 切開了的洋蔥留為日後使用是非常危險的， 即使一晚它便變得毒性非常高， 產生有毒細菌可能會引致膽汁分泌過多導致腸胃炎甚至食物中毒。
Please pass it on to all you love and care.
I will continue my story writing in the next posts, sharing my perspectives on how such stories are now retold in the new media of 21st century.
And that is the pedagogy of story telling…..