Monday, August 31, 2009

His & Phi of ENE-Week 1

Group Behaviors

This was the first time that I attended a class with a lot of discussion. And I have to say that my English sucks. I wanted to speak out, and I’d got lots of words in my mind, but I just got tong-tied. I kind of hated myself at those moments.

Speaking of group behaviors, I think my strength is seeking information or opinions, because I am not afraid of losing face and I think it is a shame to pretend to know something that you don’t. And my weakest link is the language issue, obviously. I hope I can do better in giving information or opinions next time.

By the way, Noah, Julia, Beth and Sensen did a very good job in giving information or opinions, and Julia and Beth did an excellent job in encouraging teammates. I can learn a lot from them.

The Courage to Teach-Chapter III-The Hidden Wholeness-Paradox in Teaching and Learning-Parker J. Palmer

I have to say that I love this chapter. The concept of this chapter “wholeness and paradox” goes with my mind of philosophy. There is a classic picture of “taiji” which shows my opinion. It is a kind of traditional Chinese theory. You can see the paradox: half white and half black, but together they make a whole. Also, there is a small black dot in the white half and a small white dot in the black half, which means that you cannot separate the white from the black or the black from the white completely.


I have a feeling about the sixth point the author mentions in the article: “The space should welcome both silence and speech”. I have a memorable experience of paradox of silence and speech. I was taught to not to speak too much when I was a kid and people in my country often said that “silence is gold”. People believe that People who talk much would expose their weakness and ignorance and got attacked easily. There is a old Chinese saying: “ The bird which flies the highest get shot.” So everyone would like to keep low- profile. You can always see a scenario in a class in China: A teacher asks a question, and nobody raises their hands. And there is an awkward silence spreading the whole classroom. And the silence keeps as long as the teacher waits. Surprisingly, I found some engineering classes in Purdue played the same show too. Differently, non-science/engineering classes encourage speech. I have already been given heads-up from one of my friend in Education Department that you have to be active and speak out a lot in class if you want to receive good grade. It seems that the American culture welcomes speech. So I am still struggling to find a balance between silence and speech, since now I am a little bit too silent.

Holding the Tension of Opposite

I think it is unwise to choose one side and abandon the opposite side. Half white and half black make the whole circle. Day and night make a whole day. In my opinion, the first step should be realizing the truth and embrace the paradox. Then you can figure out a way to hold the tension of opposite. Frankly speaking, it is an art to me.

The New Scholarship Requires a New Epistemology-Donald A. Schon

This article is kind of difficult to me, although it is shorter than the previous one. My focus on this article is reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. Reflection-in-action is that during the process of research or other things, keep evaluating and making proper changes. Reflection-on-action happens when the research or other things are done. Here is my example:
My research was “swimming pool chemistry” last semester. When I was testing samples, sometimes I got awkward numbers. So I started to wonder what was going on. Are the machine malfunctioned? Do I need to test extra samples? It is reflection-in-action. When I got back to my desk, analyzing and making conclusion, it is reflection-on-action.

Here is another example I heard from Sensen:
She likes cooking. I think she is a great cook. When she is making cookies, she thinks: “Maybe adding some white chocolate will be better.” It is reflection-in-action. After the cookies are taken out of the oven, she tastes it and thinks:” It is a good idea to add white chocolate.” It is reflection-on-action.

Honestly speaking, as engineers, we are all trained to have reflection-in/on-action when we are doing research. Keeping evaluating and making proper changes during or after research seems a pretty normal thing to do for me. I think this article explains simple things in a difficult way.