When you are learning a new language, you are not simply learning a new way of talking, you are also inadvertently learning a new way of thinking. -Lera Boroditsky, 1976.
As I read through the quotes of the different ways of knowing while making the decision of my fourth and final WOK badge, I stumbled across this quote, and as a person who speaks 5 languages, this really got me thinking and inspired me to commit to this final way of knowing.
This time, my group is composed of Federico, Eshan, Rhea, and me. This time, I made sure to join a group where I was not going to be the only person working, but that I would have other people who were interested in the topic discussed as well, rather than just sitting around and "working" on their computer.
I was surprised to learn that this way of knowing badge would be different than the others. This time, we were going to explore our way of knowing through a written TOK-style paragraph, not a presentation with our group. How ironic, since I had just found a group of people that would actually be determined to work... oh well
In class, we learned how to write TOK-style paragraphs. First, our essential question must be restructured into a topic sentence. Then, we have to describe a real-life example that relates to our question, and to conclude, connect the real-life example to the question and further explain it.
My group and I have chosen to focus on the following question:
How does language shape our knowledge?
At first, we read an extension reading by the University of Houston College of Engineering. The reading was related to shorthand and how its aim is to "speed up the process of writing." It also explained how different individuals have their own particular way of shorthand writing, making each acquire knowledge through language in different ways. The interpretation of the shorthand writing is different for every individual, leading to differences in perception. An image in the text was shorthand notes of one of President Woodrow Wilson's speeches.
March 8th, 2017
Today my group and I thought of ideas that we could use to complete our paragraph. I personally enjoyed completing the presentation more than the paragraph because I felt like I was doing something different than to what I always do for every class. I believe TOK should be a very interactive class where we have discussions about the topics that we learn. I am not sure if I completely grasped the idea of what is expected of us in the paragraph.
I had a difficult time trying to put my thoughts into words and onto paper. I felt more pressured into finding proper evidence from the extended reading into the paragraph, rather than having a more open real-life experience that my group could decide on our own, and then use the extended reading to help us expand our understanding.
I feel like this WOK badge was harder for me because I did not fully understand the idea behind the extended readings that we found. We did not have a lot of time to discuss in class because we spent a lot of time working on our way of writing and properly structuring the paragraph.
March 9th, 2017
Today I completed my paragraph for the WOK badge. It actually was not as bad as I expected it to be. I managed to sit down in my room and focus, which led me towards actually understanding what I wanted to talk about. It is hard for me to focus at school surrounded by classmates and noise. I would much rather complete the work on my bed, on my own, fully focused. I re-read the extension readings we chose for our badge and then I began to write my paragraph.
At first, I wrote a general idea of my understanding of the paragraph in order to put my thoughts into words. Afterwards, I polished my writing and used more TOK-ey terminology that would sound better and help my writing make more sense.
After completing the paragraph, I feel much more relieved and I believe I learned a new aspect of language that I did not previously know before. The interpretation of language is different for each individual, despite the fact that we both may speak the same language, I may interpret a word differently than you based on other factors such as culture or ethics. I was very intrigued by the article we read on the University of Houston's findings about shorthand notes. I did not know shorthand notes had been written all throughout history, and I was not aware either that some forms of shorthand notes, like Woodrow Wilson's, involve a language of signs that only he understood.
The video above is actually a talk by Lera Boroditsky, who is also the author of the quote that drove me towards exploring language as my last way of knowing.