Learning To "SEE"
Many years ago when exposed to ample scientific periodicals and writings in the assisting of my ex-husband in his own studies and then in his teaching of science, I ran acoss one account which shook me to my core. It is about a scientist, written by a scientist, in a scientific setting, to explain specific scientific research and his personal scientific dilemma.
From it, I could easily extract some of the wisest, most applicable-to-life, eye-opening lessons I’d run across; lessons which would abide with me from then on, over 45 years ago.
It recently occurred to me quite dramatically again, impelling me to try to share it here without diluting that message which had so vividly impressed me. I might have just summarized an interpretive review of it which somehow would lack the effective 'punch line' in it, which is "now there are two of us who know that." Instead, have shared the piece here in order to not distract from it in any measure.
SEEING, in the sense of "getting it" oneself, internalizing it from then on for use and application to other similar challenges was what impressed me as the essence of the article, seeing being the progeny of the processes of teaching and learning which it employed and describes so vividly.
I find that I have no better means of sharing it with you but to share it in its entirety, (via referral to a link where it is fully displayed since HP disallowed quoting it here), if you will bear with me.
I make no claim of expertise on the scientific material and study being conducted nor knowledge of any further aspects of the lives of either scientist involved in this account. My purpose is not to argue or to defend that research being conducted, though it has its own relevance and value.
But no, my sole purpose and connection with it in this present hub is in having read it and applied its principle at a critical time of my intellectual and emotional life, by being able and impelled to apply it in my own development and now wishing to mention the process here, derived from the manner in which the student was able to learn what the teacher intended him to discover on his own.
it provided an insight which assisted me - and still does - in my personal endurance of what I've called "my fertile flux” times of floundering and reaching almost blindly for a crucial truth or insight with a determination and a faith to find it, though the present moments may seem unyielding and dim. It is an enlightening awareness as one must bear with and feel confident when a loved one is enduring a similar tribulation which we hope leads to an epiphany of personal realization and enlightenment for which the only real realization will be to discover it on his/her own. Trying to direct or explain their course is universally counter-productive, I have found.
The account to which I refer is of the public domain, but I want to give full credit to its author and its setting, which go back over a century into the past.
The Original Article Link
- How Agassiz Taught Me to See
Shaler's Own Full Account of How Agassiz Taught Him To See
The selection is from The Autobiography of Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, reprinted in Houston Peterson, ed., Great Teachers (Vintage Books, l946) pp. 213-215. Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) was one of the founders of modern American science; Shaler was dean of the scientific school at Harvard from l891-1906.
This writing by Shaler was penned during and/or about his student days, as he studied under the dominion of a famous scientist and teacher Louis Agassiz.
The incident took place about 1859 and is one of the more famous in the annals of college teaching.
Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz (1807-1873 was a Swiss-American naturalist, whose outstanding comparative anatomy studies took a center position, promulgating the glacial theory and opposing Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.
Paleontology was emerging as a new science when Agassiz's came forward; as speculations about the distribution of species and their relationships to each other were being highlighted by naturalists, science was assuming an increasingly important place in educational curricula. Agassiz's role in the developments was major, both in Europe and in America.
The Writing: "HOW AGASSIZ TAUGHT ME TO SEE"
That this hub was tagged as containing too much material from other sites when I included the 'story' here, and that a request to make the quoted material a lesser portion would have been impossible without loss of its message are the reasons for explanations and referral to the full quote on another site.
I believed that there was a valid reason for quoting it in full here and that it was in no danger of crossing into questionable use of others' work. It is not a long piece and seemed to me be be balanced with my original introduction. I'm capable or paraphrasing it adequately, but I've simply too much respect for the writer and the personal account in the contents to do so. I believe it has enormous value in the way it concentrated attention on the material as it was originally written, as it had for me upon first reading it in that format.
However, the rules of HP thought otherwise and I was reprimanded for quoting the entire account of Shaler's experience in this hub. Realizing there is no way to satisfactorily paraphrase it without diluting it too much, I simply removed the entire quote here and substituted a link to the full quote elsewhere (see link above). When you go to that other site to read the story there, you'll still be able to fit it into the settings provided here, which I hope help to enhance it, so that nothing need be sacrificed in your getting a 'picture' of how it unfolded back then.
I trust you will appreciate and derive value from this glimpse into how various complicated information must be passed along when, to be of value, it must be literally 'discovered' by oneself, rather than being 'nstalled, prepackaged', if it is to be internalized and to become always available to oneself in any further expanding of one's understanding of the material, whether that material is concerning some ancient fish or is applicable to the everyday business of living well by applying the special perceptions derived from the lessons so internalized. A teacher is merely the 'conductor' when it comes to imparting vital knowledge and understanding to another person. Its method requires no explanation or justification; and in fact, would only detract from the 'getting it' oneself - if it is to be 'gotten'. If and when it is, no credit can really be given to the 'teacher' other than to have allowed one to 'find' it oneself, who can take full credit for and use of having gotten it!
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