Editor’s Note: This section within the USDLA Journal includes statements
- disturbing, funny, profound and evocative - from students exploring
their experiences with online and technology based learning. We hope that
teachers, administrators, instructional designers and other students will
be as intrigued as we were by the contrast and richness of learning experiences.
Hyrum R. Tenney
Posted Tues. Jul 10, 2001
Yep, another metaphor. Thanks for reading
Bear with me, please. I enjoy metaphors that allow
me to speak of the intangibles by using the tangible aspects of our
world. Here goes…….
I feel like a painter… I thought I came to
this class with an open mind, or in other words a blank painting surface,
that I realized was a miscalculation. The surface I brought has been
painted on and over and under and through. However this class allowed
me to step back and take a look at the painting to see how much of it
was mine, what parts I did and did not like. In each lesson I found
new ways to look at my painting so far and even, found myself painting
over some previous landscapes.
Now, in this assignment, I found that each school
of thought has offered a different palette of colors that I could use
to paint my picture. Each palette has it own colors and names for colors.
The Biographical and Social schools of criticism offers colors of “political-green
or red”, “birthplace blue” and the ever-evolving “Darwin
evolving Kaleidoscope color”. The Modernists school of interpretation
offers the colors of “pure white”, “science white”,
and the color, “pure-science grey”. The Formalism school
offers “meaningful-emotion-yellow”, and a “form-ruler”
attached to the palette for exactness. The school of Archetypal Criticism
offers a set of tinsels to paint with. I could go on and on how each
school of interpretation offers different tools and colors in which
I could paint any certain picture.
When considering the family subject I see how each
tool could paint a different picture of what the family has been, is,
should be, and will be in the future. In most of my research I see many
grasping the School of Social Criticism to paint their picture of the
family. The picture they have painted shows great skill in their use
of their palette, yet it now seems incomplete. Therefore, other schools
of thought may bring about a more complete picture of the family, or
may paint over the existing one. Now, as I see all these schools of
interpretation adding and taking away from the picture, I can see how
confounding or slanted the picture can be at any moment.
Therefore, here is my choice. Instead of allowing
each individual School of Interpretation to paint the picture of the
family for me I am taking the tools and points of view that they are
providing and painting the picture myself. The picture is becoming mine.
I can change and revise it. It is my educated response. Watch out Monet
About the Author:
Mr. Tenney is an undergraduate student at Northern
Arizona University, due to receive his degree this December. He is 24,
married with two small children, and lives in Prescott, Arizona. He
also teaches Seminary for the Latter Day Saints Church. He took the
online class because the format enabled him to meet his family responsibilities.
His writing, "Hyrum's Palette", is one post of many from
the online class (Summer 2001), exchanged with all other students and
with the professor, Dr. Guy Bensusan. Mr. Tenney feels very simply that
the class was a blessing.
Sarah J Winger
Message no. 3111: Posted Sunday, July 29, 2001
As many of you expressed- where do I start? I guess
I will just right in! I am amazed by this class and the ideas that everyone
shared. I know that I did not comment on everyone's work as much
as I could- just know that in my head I was pondering and complimenting
your ideas. I was unsure about this class when I enrolled but I am sure
that no aspect of learning was lost due to the format of this class.
If anything I focused a lot more on being able to express myself through
the keyboard. This class proposed awesome ideas and it wasn't until
I was sitting in one of my "traditional" classes and a guest
speaker began to talk about a class that she had taken and shared with
us the Hexadigm! I was amazed and at the same time relieved. She had
taken this class and then turned around and passed on its ideas. If
we all do this, change can happen and a new form of learning can take
The below is also on my personal web page... enjoy!
To put it simply, after reading the Hexadigm I was
speechless. What do you say after reading something that has just made
you re-think everything that you have ever been told, learned, read,
and studied? The Hexadigm put everything into a new perspective. This
new way to study and analyze anything and everything seemed revolutionary.
Where has this selfless way of telling the story of history and or culture
been? Through six interacting parts, the Hexadigm helps to display a
solid story yet allows room for change. The six parts, cultural sequences,
mutual influences, regional diversities, modernizing technologies, expanded
comprehensions, revised interpretations, embrace each idea that the
situation at hand deals with. Each part helps to dissect the situation
in order for the reader to gain a well rounded and in depth understanding.
This method of learning shines a brand new light on previously learned
history and sets a new standard for any subject to be taught in the
Reading the Hexadigm made me think about the many
ways that I am exposed to History and Culture. The Hexadigm is completely
accurate in declaring the traditional approach “isolated and self-centered.”
I think back to almost every setting in which I am taught about History
and Culture and almost every situation focuses on us, and fails to compare
our evolution with the experiences of our many neighbors. I think that
this method of learning sub-consciously attributes to the selfishness
of our population today. I think that implementing the Hexadigm in “schools,
textbooks, movies and media” could influence learning and interpreting
and create an overall more culturally aware society.
As I read everyone’s reactions to the Hexadigm,
I see a common theme of frustration. Everyone seems to be disturbed
by the fact that they were not exposed to the way of learning that the
Hexadigm proposes, and disappointed that they missed out on this “culturally
aware” and unbiased form of learning. Everyone seems to agree
that we should use this method of teaching for future generations. But
at what point should we quit blaming the educational system and take
responsibility for our own education? Students should be taught to identify
a selfish argument and should be encouraged to take that one-sided idea
and learn the other side. While the educational system is undoubtedly
biased, it is the result of many, many biased historians and has in
turn caused many biased attitudes. So what of the generations that has
already gone through the educational system? Is there a way to reach
past students that have only learned the history of the Anglo male?
Is there a way to re-teach history using this unbiased and selfless
Designing the Individual Study Applying the Hexadigm:
Hand and Body Gestures
Gestures in non-verbal communication
Gestures to compliment spoken communication
How did the use of gestures begin?
A specific place?
A specific time?
Has the purpose of gestures evolved as a result of other cultural influences?
How were these cultures exposed to each other?
What did each culture take from the other?
How does the same gesture in two different places compare to one another?
What caused the difference in gestures across regions?
What in the present has affected the use of gestures?
How have gestures evolved with the use of computers?
Because the Internet and email have reduced the amount of face-to-face
communication, has this spawned a new type of gestures?
The use of 'emoiticons' (J, L etc.) as a way of simulating gestures
The use of more abbreviations and the writing out of body gestures to
show emotions, (LOL, *grin*, *sigh*, etc.)
Has the use of gestures changed due to changing personalities today?
People are becoming more negative and aggressive; does this influence
the use of negative gestures?
People are becoming very lazy; does this influence the use of gestures
instead of speaking proper language?
Has the underlying meaning of gestures curved the use of them?
Are people educated on the meaning and appropriateness of gestures?
As people are educated in the use and meanings of gestures, does this
affect their use of gestures?
How have gestures conformed to the society of which they are used?
How has the value of the gesture changed (or has it)?
How has the use of the gesture changed (or has it)?
The Bias factor is very correct in stating that we are all biased
and probably always will be. But I don't think that this is a bad
thing. I think that biased-ness (is that a word?) makes for different
opinions. With everyone seeing and thinking the same way the world would
be so horribly boring.
For my research on Hand and Body Gestures, I have
started research on "proxemics" (body language). I plan on
using research articles and a couple videos that the library has. I
will also use the web and interview some of friends that are from different
parts of the world, to get a more first-hand experience of silent communication.
The Ladder - Hand and Body Gestures
Reactive Response: Responses to hand and body gestures can range from frustration
to a complete sense of understanding. The main use for hand and body
gestures is communication, although often times they are used to for
emphasis or subconscious emotions. During nonverbal conversations, all
parties involved can become very frustrated because like any other language
there are many differences. These differences can be inspired by anything
from culture to geographic location and time period. On the other side,
a complete sense of understanding can occur when these differences are
kept to a minimum.
Story Components: As hand and body gestures have evolved, so have the stories
around them. Currently there are specific websites that one could consult
before leaving the country to ensure that specific offensive gestures
are avoided. Through different gestures, they can be compared and contrasted
to ensure the rules are followed.
Context of Cultures: While communicating with hand gestures, one can give a
gesture compliment in one country. At the same time in the same situation
in another country this could be a very insulting or even very vulgar
gesture. This could happen in neighboring countries, where an imaginary
line is the only thing that causes the interpretation to differentiate.
Sources of Information: Each culture has its own form and origination specific
gestures. Along with their own set of gestures, a story of where and
how they came from is also within the culture.
Awareness of Author: The story of hand and body gestures is not a story that
typically gets written down. The gestures themselves are however passed
down from generation to generation-through common everyday use. This
method of keeping the gestures alive does have its share of faults.
As times change, so does communication. As this happens, many gestures
are added, removed or changed. Because there is no written form of the
gesture, once a change has been made, it will stick until changed again.
Assumption and Intent: Because gestures are not written down, only used gestures
get passed down. Those not used are lost and “leaves the picture
unpainted and incomplete.”
Schools of Thought: Within each culture is its own way of thinking. Because
everyone their own point of view, different gestures were passed down
pertaining to different ideas.
Educated Response: Within the schools of thought, a response could be formulated
to that school of thought. Like any other way of learning, one could
simply take was taught and end there, or take that idea and run with
it. That response affects the way that gestures were handed down and
eventually effects history.
I think that this is all so neat! It finally feels
like everyone is moving along smoothly and able to post and comment
easily. When I first started this class I was worried that the discussion
part of class would be lost. Boy- was I wrong! Anyway- after reading
"Evaluating Our Sources of Information" I know that I will
definitely be a lot more aware of what I read. Often times I will be
told to research a topic or idea and right away I jump on the Internet.
As easy as it is to gather info from the web, it is as easy to post
info. Through evaluating the source and/or author, one can better determine
the validity of the argument. Another interesting point brought up in
the fifth reading was the idea of actually going out and seeing first
hand the information. I hate to admit it, but I have never thought of
going to museum or gallery for research. This reading has put a new
light on not only the way I interpret info but also where I get my info.
After reading the three selections on Schools of
Thought, I was amazed to see how many types there are. It is very insightful
to interpret ideas through the eyes of others, but in a way it almost
seemed ridiculous. Maybe it is just my bad habit of trying to make everything
black or white, but it seems that everyone can have their own school
of thought by simply adding ism to there name. I think that all of these
schools developed from the human habit of trying to categorize everything-
a personal form of control. How nice is it when we are able to tie everything
up in a nice little package and have a good grip on it? I think that
once an idea surface and no one was able to fit it into an existing
category, another school was created. I also realize that the times
contributed to the creation of different schools of thought, but numerous
schools emerged from a single time period.
By comparing each of the European academic schools
of thought and applying them to my topic, hand and body gestures, here
are my results.
DARWIN: Darwin and his popular ideas of Natural Selection and Survival
of the Fittest are apparent in hand and body gestures as a form of communication.
Sign language is a form of communication used by the hearing-impaired
and was developed so the hearing-impaired could communicate, which in
today’s terms equal survive. If one cannot communicate with others,
either through sign language or any other form of body language, not
necessarily a formal form, one cannot survive. It would be impossible
to get food, either through buying it or simply taking it from say,
a buffet a line without some form of communication being present. One
could not get around town, walking, driving or otherwise without communicating
with others on the road. In this sense, hand and body gestures have
become a form of survival and allowed the non-verbal communication section
of society to be included in the fittest.
and his capitalistic ideas have become apparent in hand and body gestures
as those not able to communicate with words try to survive in an economic
society. Marx emphasized social class in conflict based on economic
status. Through Marxism, those not able to participate in the manual
labor workforce due to communication reasons were able to cash in and
earn their piece of the status pie by using an alternate form of communication.
school of thought proposed that everyone was driven by two unconscious
factors: sex and aggression. Everyone was unconsciously driven by sex
and aggression and this was evident in what they did. Both sex and aggression
can be expressed in a spoken language and is also marked in hand and
body gestures. Freud believed that his theory could be applied to all
humans, regardless of their ability or inability to verbally communicate
with each other.
NIETZSCHE: Nietzsche believed that tradition was based on superstition
and that all people need a leadership figure to fallow in an orderly
manner. Hand and Body gestures help to communicate this idea and allow
non-verbal ways to guide the “inferior herd” or fallow the
“superman.” Non-verbal communication is simply another way
to “guide in an orderly, modern society based on scientific methods,
practical inventions and technological progress.”
CULTURAL RELATIVISM: This school proposed that the expressions and customs of
culture were different due to the fact that they derived from distinctive
settings and traditions. This school helped to minimized cross-cultural
comparisons, as it was impossible to compare two things from different
cultures or traditions. This school of thought is very apparent in kinesics,
or the study of nonlinguistic bodily movements, such as gestures and
facial expressions, as a systematic mode of communication. A great example
of this is gestures in the East versus the West. In some countries in
the East, the simplest movement, such as crossing your legs at your
knees instead of at the ankles can be very offensive. Even the hand
that you use to eat with can carry offense. Obviously these types of
gestures cannot be compared to those of the West, where it only takes
one select finger to offend someone. On the opposite side, there are
some universal facial expressions that can communicate across every
land. The simple smile is a standard way of expressing joy and happiness
and can be used anywhere.
BIOGRAPHICAL CRITICISM: This school believes that to better understand something,
the origin or background of the creator should be known. In applying
this to kinesics, is it necessary to know why showing the bottom of
your shoes to someone is offensive? Is it necessary to know where the
smile came from? Is this something that will effect the use of a certain
expression or gesture? At the same time, does the origin or words encourage
or discourage use?
SOCIAL CRITICISM: This school
of thought implies that the motive inspiring the creator is what causes
the acceptance of the creation across the population. Social Criticism
is also considered a continuation of the school of Biographical Criticism.
This theory believes that as the values and styles that inspire the
creator go out of style, so will the creation. This does not hold true
in the study of hand and body gestures, as values and styles change,
the gesture and its meaning remain the same.
FORMALISM: This school can be
described as the response to Social Criticism, as it claims, “true
and unique essences of arts and culture are being buried in social principles.”
This school claims, “The Arts invent human expressions of meaningful
emotion.” This thought perfectly describes hand and body gestures,
as the point of hand and body gestures is to express meaningful emotion.
Because gestures do not change with the times, (this is not to say that
new gestures are not created with new times) Formalism is the perfect
school of thought to compare kinesics.
GEOGRAPHICAL DETERMINISM SCHOOL: This school believed that “geography created culture.”
In the formation of hand gestures, this is a very strongly supported
idea. Climate, resources and other conditions of location, elevation
and weather can be considered the factor of differentiation between
cultural non-verbal communications. This idea of an external factor
contributing to differences was a response to Freud’s Psychological
criticism and is rightly justified in its proposed ideas in hand and
SCHOOL OF BEHAVIORISM: This school projected that stimuli, internal and material
factors created difference in culture. Just as Pavlov’s dogs were
conditioned to salivate after hearing the dinner bell, different cultures
were conditioned to respond to different gestures. This type of learning
helped to form the many different types of gestures used around the
About the Author:
Sarah Winger is a student at the Northern Arizona
University Flagstaff campus and has just completed her freshman year.
She is active in school, president of Hillel and sits on the Multicultural
Student Committee. She also works in the University Student Union. This
material was written as an online post (one of many) for Humanities
382, an undergraduate, online Distance Learning class taken this summer
with Dr Guy Bensusan. Ms. Winger is a Psychology major and took the
class because of interest in the subject and interest in experiencing
this online format. She felt encouraged to "speak out" more
online than in a face-to-face classroom. She was able to do the class
well and met the class deadlines by pacing herself through her many
academic and economic commitments. Ms. Winger is almost 19 years old.
Questions from a Doctoral Student
Philip J. Rossomando
(Originally posted on DEOS Listserv, July 24, 2001
in response to an earlier post by Dr. Alfred Bork.)
Do you feel all learners are the same? Could not
some students do without teachers on the WEB while others could find
them quite useful and even vital? What about for the purpose of adding
an emotional aspect to the learning process? Because the Open University
has done without teachers, does that mean that it offers the highest
quality of education? Could it be that only surface level learning is
being provided and little deep and transformative learning is available?
I too believe poor teachers are not needed on the
WEB but I also believe that a teacher who can inspire deep life-long
learning can never be replaced. Every effort should be made to see to
it that the influence of such individuals is allowed to reach the distance
About the Author:
Philip J. Rossomando is a doctoral candidate at Walden
University. His deep concern is with androgogical aspects within the
Distance Learning area. He may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org