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 A basket full of apples... 
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This is interesting. My advisor, Dr. Paul Smith shared this information with our class last week and I can't stop thinking about it. "A Little Descarte' Philosophy" he titles the handout...bear with me:

"Suppose you have a basket full of apples, and being worried that some of the apples were rotten, wanted to take out the rotten ones to prevent the rot spreading. How would you proceed? Would you begin by tipping the all the apples out of the basket? And would the next step be to cast his eye over each apple in turn, and pick up and put back in the basket only those he saw to be sound, leaving the others?"

Dr. Smith writes that we all have our unique beliefs, "unquestioningly acquired in childhood and never properly examined since." Most of us would agree! But what really is key:

"When we begin to philosophize SERIOUSLY and look at any particular one of these unexamined beliefs, we find that we do not know it with CERTAINTY. For all we can tell, that belief could be false. How then are people to seperate their false beliefs from their true beliefs, to prevent the false beliefs from 'contaminating' the rest and making the whole lot uncertain?"

This poses a very interesting question. Descarte, who is also quoted in the article we discussed last night in class, "The Influence of Darwinism on Philosophy" on the bottom of page 3, believes that we should REJECT ALL BELIEFS together at one time as if they were false. Then go through each belief, in turn and "re-adopt"only those beliefs that we recognize as true.

His "radical idea" expressed by Dr. Smith, is that "we might be wrong about EVERYTHING. This apple might be rotten, and this apple might be rotten, and this apple might be rotten...then they might all be rotten."

So, for you (and me) left brained, mathematically inclined people, Dr. Smith asks us to try this:

"True belief + True belief = True Belief

False belief + False belief = False Belief

True belief + Fasle belief = False Belief"

"It only takes one false belief to undo the good work of many true beliefs...this is why Descarte' uses the apple cart example."

So with this philosophy, one strips themself of all belief for further personal examination...hopefully to acquire new TRUE beliefs. Beliefs you feel to be true, certain. So, the next time you feel you don't have a firm footing with a belief/topic...think about Descarte'.

Some of you may ask...is this even possible? (as I initially did) Dr. Smith is proof. So my questions to you:

What do you think of Descarte's Philosophy?
Do you think this is possible?
Do you think you could do this? Why or why not?
What do you think would prompt a person to do this?

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Leigh Anne Frye


Thu Feb 22, 2007 10:54 am
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Are our beliefs not already subjective and hardly changeable? It is hard for me to put my mine around such questions, because what I believe to be true in my own little world is truth whether you beleive it or not. Who are we to judge what is a false belief system when it is what we believe to be true.

Think about the students that we work with day in and day out. During a redirection of behavior session the child believes that you are yelling or that you hate them when that is not the case at all. However, that is what they believe, true or false. A parent may believe that you are picking on their child and may not ever have stepped foot into your classroom or have spoken to you. A teacher may believe that you are not supportive when you allow them to deal with the consequences of their actions.

The only way to turn peoples' beliefs around is to live so that what they think and say about you is not true. Changing beliefs, well, I say that is not the main issue. The main issue is to accept the fact the people have differenct belief systems and it is my job as a leader within a school to try to maintain some sense of order in upholding those belief systems without jeopardizing the focus, mission, and vision of the school.

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Alisa Ferguson
MSA, ASU, summer 2007


Sat Feb 24, 2007 1:01 pm
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Beliefs make up who we are. Whether they are true or not is a good indication of a person's character.

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Neil Atkins


Sun Feb 25, 2007 12:54 pm
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For our last Dr. Jenkin's assignment, we had to read a few articles on differentiation if we chose to. Many teachers believe that if a student does not "get it" with the teacher's one style of teaching than it must the child's fault. According to one of the article that I read, one style does not fit all. As future administrators we must encourage these individuals who have this mentality that "it's my way or the highway" that they must consider alternative approaches to reach those diverse populations. I have always tried to reach all of my students in my class by using many different strategies. If I do not implement those strategies, especially in a history class, I will lose half of them to boredom.

There are some out there in the education field believe that if it works for most of them then it must work for all of them. If it doesn't, blame it on the child. What a shame.

As administrators, we will have to make believers out of many who want to stick to the same old patterns of teaching.

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Chris McKay

"Our progress as a nation can be no swifter
than our progress in education." -JFK


Sun Feb 25, 2007 10:33 pm
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I have a difficult time believing that one can't change their beliefs and values. Look at Barbara in the book Nickel and Dimed...she purposefully put herself in these situations to learn what it is like in the poor working class world...do you think her values/beliefs changed? How could they not have?
I think that some explanation as to Descarte's theory may be necessary to really understand what he has proposed. Yes, our beliefs and values help shape us...but I think it is possible to change your beliefs/values. Certainly, we wouldn't totally change everything-though some can do this. I am not talking about people's perceptions of beliefs/values...what we feel is right for us.
Have you ever had an issue to come up in a class or at school...and you can see both sides or you don't feel as if you have a strong opinion/foundation? I think that would be a "false belief" because you are not sure in that belief. You then have to go back and really question why you believe what you do...find your ground to start over and create your beliefs...a belief that there are no questions in you mind...you know that is right for you.

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Leigh Anne Frye


Tue Feb 27, 2007 10:00 am
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I remember having to wash dishes for my family of seven when I was in the eighth grade. I had a lot of homework and I still have to do all those dishes. I kept asking myself, "Why?" "It's a matter of principle!" One night I was slack to do the dishes and got in a lot of trouble. I promised myself that "Why" was a crooked letter and never ask it again and I didn't for years too long. I still regret never asking all those questions.

My beliefs changed and I'm all the stronger for it. I'd like to think it's a wise thing to re-examine what we have always thougt to be true. If it is truth, it will stand the testing.


Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:21 pm
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That is exactly right, Kathryn. It is important to re-examine our beliefs, as they do change. If you feel certain that they are true beliefs, what do you have to lose? It should make them that much stronger!

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Leigh Anne Frye


Fri Mar 16, 2007 7:38 pm
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Exactly, Leigh Anne. As we grow and develop many of our beliefs will change simply due to maturing, exposure and questioning. I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing. In fact, I have come to the opinion that those who shun questioning are afraid that their beliefs are not strong enough to withstand the scrutiny and questioning.

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Stephanie Williams


Sat Mar 17, 2007 9:46 am
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This reminds me of an experiene I had in the military. One guy who was a Satanist would ask me and this other Christian guy questions about the bible and our beliefs. We had some interesting "deep" discussions about faith. It actually made me a stronger Christian. It's wise to evaluate our beliefs throughout our lives.

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Chris McKay

"Our progress as a nation can be no swifter
than our progress in education." -JFK


Sun Mar 25, 2007 9:54 pm
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