Saturday, 21 July 2012

What's up with Hamlet?

This post is for W, who does not believe psychology is a science and has a string of firm arguments to support his hypothesis. ;) :*

Yesterday afternoon we did a sequence of eight one minute activities - each was connected to one of the intelligences from Gardner's theory . We covered all but one - existential. We knew nothing about it - so here is a little about what it is and some ideas on what kind of activities would suit learners with a strong existential intelligence.

If we're to trust Wikipedia, existential intelligence is "Ability to contemplate phenomena or questions beyond sensory data, such as the infinite and infinitesimal.". Or to give it an example - One of my eight-year-old students has a crush on a girl. One day she refused to sit with him, because he had hit her, pulled her hair, hid her pencil case or whatever boys do when they like someone. He sat on the floor next to my desk, crying and screaming: "If she doesn't love me, I do not exist!!!!" "But what do you mean?? I can see you.", I poked him lightly, "..and even touch you." "Yes, but I am nothing." Strong words, aren't they? So young and he's questioning his existence. I'd say that's his existential intelligence speaking. Another example would be students, teachers and professors of philosophy, who spend years and years tackling questions, such as:

Why am I here? Why are we here?
What is around me? Can I trust my senses, if they get so easily cheated?
Are there really ghosts?
What does it mean to die?
Where does the wind rush when it blows?
Why are some people evil? Is being evil a thing of character or just a phase?
Is there life on other planets?
Is it OK to say whatever I want to? Where does my right of speech end?

A colleague here at the course today said he didn't like barbecues because at a barbecue people eat way more meat than they need... Existential learners are likely to be very aware of the world around them in a political and social sense. They might enjoy setting up campaigns to save/help someone or something. They'll like discussing world and community issues, exploring different viewpoints to one thing, coming up with plans to improve the quality of life... They are likely to bring down theories in three short sentences, not because they feel the need to show how smart their are, but because the holes they see in the theory are, for them, too wide to ignore. Don't take it personally - it's not you, it's the theory.

That's it. Now I know why I studied philosophy and why I felt so good surrounded by my class-mates. :)
Could you come up with any activities for existential learners?
All my love,

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