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Essay on Conversation is the Gateway to Knowledge

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In America, the variety of peoples and learning styles (kinesthetic, visual, auditory, to name a few) make determining how one goes about acquiring knowledge a daunting task. Language is the prevailing medium we use to impart and receive the information that we apply and add to our knowledge base. Since our language is somewhat arbitrary in its meanings, we require definitions so all members have the same (or nearly the same) understanding for the terminology used. We think of knowledge as definable and assessable. Yet knowledge is an ever changing and expanding notion. Look up the word “knowledge” in the dictionary and you will find not one, not two, but numerous definitions some of which are labeled archaic.

In Neil Postman’s The Word Weavers/The World Makers, he queries how it is possible that “few classrooms . . . [have had] any discussion of what a definition is” (133). Students in all grades are given definitions as if they are facts, even facts of nature, and “with few exceptions, are not told whose definitions they are, for what purpose they were invented, and what alternative definitions might serve equally well” (Postman 133). In order for us to have a common starting ground, I will begin with a definition–not the definition, but more accurately my definition: Knowledge is the accumulation of what is gained through insights into and experiences or associations involved with learning. If I then define learning as an exchange of ideas and perspectives with an open mind and a listening ear and teaching as assisting and facilitating learning, then teaching and learning are not commonplace in our educational system.

The essence of learning is questioning, responding, and questionin...


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..., and direct and control, conversations leads us to the multitude of methods we can utilize in teaching the art of communication. Each of us has a different foundation from which to start, but as we teach this art we will see the minds of our students expand as they develop more interest and take a more active role in their learning. These students will invariably have a richer, more fulfilling life as well as be more productive contributors in our world.

Works Cited

Postman, Neil. “The World Weavers/The Word Makers.” The Presence of Others: Voices That Call for Response. Ed. Andrea A. Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997. 133-144.

Rich, Adrienne. “What does a Woman Need to Know?.” The Presence of Others: Voices That Call for Response. Ed. Andrea A. Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997. 44-50.


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