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Plausible Answers to Constructivism and Therapy

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Constructivism and Therapy

Answers by Jeanne

The reading material for this exercise is in Chapter 4 of the text, pp. 126 -147.

  1. Mahoney collaborated with the editors from Women's Ways of Knowing in writing this chapter. Which statements apply to what he says about collaboration? (At p.127)

    1. Collaboration, though useful, does slow down the work pace.

      Not so. Mahoney does not say this. He does complain that writing is difficult because there is so much richness to distill. But he praises collaboration.

    2. Collaboration brings gains in shared writing and reflections.

      True. Sharing enriches the context, encourages us to see more, to build on each others' shoulders. (On the Shoulders of Giants, Robert K. Merton .)

    3. Collaboration brings gains in an understanding of different perspectives and contexts.

      True. Others bring different contexts and perspectives to our work.

    4. Application of theory to practice is best done alone because it requires a thorough understanding of one's field to see the possibilities for application.

      Not so. Often the outsider can bring greater insight when working in conjunction with those who are experts. The outsider is often not constrained by the discipline's traditional patterns of thought and ways of explaining things.

    5. Collaboration requires that each collaborator become expert in the shared field.

      Not so. In sharing each contributes the expertise of his/her particular discipline and/or interests.

  2. In 25 words or less, what is epistemology?

    Epistemology is the technical philosophical term for the theory or science of who we know. Women's ways of knowing is about how our epistemology is affected by gender and gender-based experience.

  3. On p. 128 Mahoney speaks of personal reality and objective reality. Which of the following statements expresses what Mahoney says about reality?

    1. Personal reality is reality as the person experiences reality, based on that person's epistemology, or ways of knowing.

      True. Mahoney speaks of both personal reality and personal epistemology, calling the rational mind-based objectivity of the West an "illlusion." (Seven lines from the bottom on page 128, Lawrence.)

      Mahoney recognizes on p. 133 the unsettling nature of a concept such as "personal reality." It is rather like finding our feet on ground that is moving. sometimes we would prefer to have reality carefully and reliably defined. Mahoney calls this the "inertia of objectivism." It is comfortable to be assured.

    2. By Western white male epistemology Mahoney means a reality determined by what Western men in positions of power have judged to be "a rational order revealed by reason."

      True. Not all this group were white. Not all were male. But the group was mostly white and male. The group's beliefs have been shaped by what they believe to be "rational," and they believe that this rational reality can be discovered by reason. Much of it can and has been. Consider the neutrino story. But always scientists and scholars must stand on the "shoulders of giants," and make great intellectual leaps forward for the new discoveries. Imagination, intuition, creativity seem to play as much of a role as reason.

      Mahoney complains that much of the world seen through this Western white male epistemology is contemplative, not giving the knower much of an active role, as if reality existed independently of the knower. Constructivism takes the position that the knower must be recognized as an active participant in the exploration and construction of the reality in which we live.

    3. Reality is reality. It's out there somewhere.

      Not what Mahoney says. He is a constructivist and believes that the knower takes an active part in the shaping of reality. This may not include the shaping of atoms. Granted that the atoms may have a structure independent of us that we can discover, as in the neutrino discoveries. But relationships and therapy, these depend upon a reality that Mahoney sees as shaped interactively with the knower.

    4. Reality is the same for Western white males, for non-Western males, for females. Only our perceptions of it are different.

      Not Mahoney's position. He believes that each of us brings a different personal experience and personal epistemology to the structuring of reality.

    5. All of the above.

      Not true. Not all of the above are positions adopted by Mahoney, at least as jeanne understands what he is saying.

  4. In 25 words or less what does Mahoney mean by "active" participation of the knower in the construction of reality? (Last paragraph, p. 129.)

    "Rather than being a passive and reactive object of manipulations by external forces, the living system is viewed as a proactive agent that participates in its own life. Psychologically, this means that the person is both 'the changer and the changed.'" Recall Giddens' definition of a sociologist as one who makes people aware of the system, and that in that process, as people become aware, they consequently change the system. (This needs a specific reference, but I'm too tired to go find it. Nag me. jeanne)

  5. In 25 words or less what does Mahoney say about mind-body dualism? (p.140)

    That there is no such dualism in the world we live in. Our minds and our bodies are involved. That is one reason that Mahoney takes action and activity into account. I can tell myself hundreds of times, "I won't yell at my kid." But not yelling is an action. My body and my autonomic nervous system are a part of it. It's going to many kinds of knowing and many kinds of learning to "not yell."

  6. In 25 words or less why does Mahoney say there will be no operations manuals for constructive therapy? And do you think there will be any for narrative teaching?

    Because to objectify therapy, to set up rules and specific guides, assumes that we know what the knower will do, and that assumes that the knower need not be there to interact with what is out there. Wicked little unstated assumption! Constructive therapy requires that we listen in good faith and hear what the knower can tell us of his/her personal reality and experience.

    Jeanne is sure there will be no narrative teaching manuals with explicit how to rules. If there were, such manuals would assume that we know what the learner is experiencing, and that that is what other learners in the past have experienced. Freire said that when the revolutionary begins to assume that he knows what is best for the members of the revolution, he has ceased to be a revolutionary. When the teacher begins to assume what the learner "knows" and is feeling about that learning, without the active participation of the learner, she has ceased to be a teacher. We cannot write the rule books without assuming that we can "know' what the learner knows. Wicked little unstated assumption!


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