Sunday, November 22, 2009

“Experience is the mother of knowledge”

In Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, the idea what we ‘know’ is challenged. L’Engle provides her audience with Meg, a girl that travels on a journey of self-discovery. Meg’s adventure demonstrates the complexity found within knowledge/truth. As we travel through Mrs Who’s quotes, one can clearly see the multifaceted characteristics of knowledge.

Mrs Who cannot formulate her own thoughts, instead she must use quotes from famous scholars/artists. I found that most of her quotes were very pertinent to the events occurring. For example, Mrs Who quotes Goethe “I do not know everything; still many things I understand” (97). This concept was directed towards Meg (and the audience), just simply stating that even though you may not have a definitive reason for something occurring, you can still understand a concept and embrace it for what it is.

The novel really shone a light on the concept of believing/understanding things that cannot be seen. With Aunt Beast being blind, and with the closing scene where “Meg knew all at once that Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which must be near, because all through her she felt a flooding of joy and of love which were already there” (202). With this statement I feel that L’Engle stresses the concept of truth, and that although some things cannot be visualized, individuals trust their faith and experience in understanding these important concepts of life.

My service-learning has really opened my eyes to the difficulties found in education, especially when battling English as a second language. Mrs Who quotes Cervantes “Experience is the mother of knowledge” (73) which made me think back to Kolvenbach and my service-learning.

One experience that I found very interesting was the issue that some of the students at EBLO (the location of my other service learning) would be held back and sort of forgotten. One boy in particular caught my eye; John Alex. John Alex is an eight year old second grader. He doesn’t do his homework, because he doesn’t have any (his teachers don’t assign him any more homework).

The school seems to allow kids to fail and slip between the cracks. However, John Alex’s aide at EBLO provides him with some extra practice (aka homework that she thinks up on the spot). Just to help him keep some of the information fresh in his mind. She doesn’t let him sneak by without attempting a problem. I found that EBLO aides were providing the students with a more positive academic atmosphere then their school does. “Faith is the sister of justice” (38) EBLO demonstrates a sense of community coming together to help demonstrate a sense of social justice, and by having faith, EBLO clearly shows how much they want to help promote justice.

Also I find it astonishing that these teachers can just let a student fall behind. Just because there might be a language barrier does not mean that the teachers can lose faith in a student. As seen in A Wrinkle in Time, knowledge is a tricky thing. The complexity found within education only lends itself to the many risks and benefits of a public education.

Just like in A Wrinkle in Time, the convention sometimes isn’t always what’s best for an individual. I found it very refreshing that the EBLO aide took the time out of her day to make sure John Alex kept up with as much academics that he could understand.

After reading A Wrinkle in Time I really began to look back on my education and reevaluate my experiences. I came to the conclusion that some teachers were more successful than others, especially when it came down to concentrating on the individual rather than the class as a whole. “We have learned to take shortcuts wherever possible” (73).

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