Exploring the Social Imagination

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Social Imagination ~ Spatial and Tactile Interaction

Many models of education have been and are discussed. It is interesting to me that most educated people think that years ago, education was simple or a lesser quality than today. That is not true. Look at the discoveries made during that last several hundred years and you will be amazed. We could go back even farther.

Today, we actually recognize that students are regressing in their studies and wider knowledge of all things, mechanical, artistic, historical, political, philosophical etc. Universities are more interested in teaching racial formation, gender expectations if any, and water downed versions of just about everything else. Yet, they claimer on the band wagon of educational reform and its overall improvement.

How then to go about improving education? Many think that the Rasch Model. As I wrote, Georg Rasch promoted psychometrics which is a field of study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement. One part of the field is concerned with the objective measurement of skills and knowledge, abilities, attitudes,personality traits, and educational achievement. Rasch was interested thus in the calculation of social imagination. That sounds witty but it is not wise. Numbers produce results no doubt about that. But, they do not reflect the true nature of the social imagination.

My argument was that though like Rasch, psychometric researchers have concerned themselves with the construction and validation of assessment instruments such as questionnaires, tests, raters' judgments, and personality tests to understand the human mind, the human social imagination. I wrote then and repeat here "Oh, how they deny themselves the true intimate nature and understanding of the workings of the social imagination".

How can that be bad? It is because the key requirement of the Rasch model is embodied within the formal structure. Consequently, the Rasch model is a method of assessment that looks at how the assessment should be changed to meet the requirement of what is being studied. This sets up a false idea of what the naturally occurring data is. It presumes that the data is like 'that' or 'this'. We have to only set up proper assessment in order to see the data we presume to be there or want to achieve.

I cannot imagine how that will improve education. When I wrote my doctoral dissertation, I was fascinated with and wrote strongly about the social imagination and how it actually works. The phenomenon of the mind in a tangible body reaching out into a sphere of information configurations and locating meaning.

Meaning is what makes us human, and it makes one social reality 'culture as in social group in a place' just that much different from another. It requires spatial and tactile encounters with information. Our body is a kind of avatar for the mind-  the consciousness within.  It requires interaction with others but with other kinds of information that is created through social interaction and crystallized into this or that which must also be interacted with and can be in this given social dimension of being.

The best example is again beginning with mother. She holds a cuddly toy in front of her infant/child and interacts with her child. She also informs him or her about what she holds. The baby reaches out into space for the object, mother repeats what it is and the baby touches it. This is the process of programming or socializing. Socialization happens in this way throughout life. We need space and touch to concrete incoming data - to make it real.

Children today are limited in this experience. They spend too much time indoors and in front of screens which they cannot reach into and touch.

Young minds need this experience and through that they grow their mind.

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