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Words of Honor

Mitch Finley's reflection for tomorrow's readings in Living Faith:

"When [Jesus] left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say." -- Luke 11:53-54

"We take freedom of speech for granted most of the time. But down through history it has been what certain individuals opened their mouths and said that has caused the greatest good (e.g., Jesus) and the greatest evil (e.g., Adolf Hitler) the world has known. Even in our ordinary little lives, what we say can be good or harmful. It takes courage to speak up when the results are likely to be unpleasant.

"St Francis of Assisi advised his followers to preach the Gospel at all times and all places, and sometimes even to use words. Our actions count most, but sometimes we're obliged to speak up, even if it's likely to get us into trouble. Hence the need to be able to open your mouth and say something accurate, sensible and well informed about your faith. That's something to get ready for, to read a few books for, to have discussions with fellow faith-filled folks about.

"Lord Jesus, help me to be ready to speak when the time arises."

THESE DAYS, issues related to speech kept cropping up.

Last month, to speak up or not to speak up (other than witnessing through our actions) was an issue of contention at our last LRSS session.

At at a blogging seminar also about a month ago, a concerned teacher questioned Xia Xue tersely whether she practised self-censorship. Was reminded of what Professor John Bransford has said at a seminar at NIE earlier, something to this effect: "We learn best by disagreements. Good leaders communicate by listening well. Good leaders surround themselves with people with diverse perspectives and are prepared to be wrong one-third of the time!"

Around the same time, David Weinberger wrote online about the fallacies of relativism, stressing that "Rather than being silos, we are conversations that -- as conversations do -- continuously and eternally negotiate agreement while iterating on difference."

Then a week or so ago, ChannelNewsAsia reported that the resident who put up the "white elephants" at the Buangkok MRT station in late August (offensive apparently to some "complainer", but very cute and pertinent to the public at large) has been found and given a stern warning by the police. Around the same time, the TV station also reported that "for the first time, two Singaporeans have been sentenced to jail for posting racist remarks online... [One] was sentenced to one month's jail. [The other,] to serve one day in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000."

Interestingly, the exemplary paper for qualitative research that Dr R. posted on our online forum last week was about the role of argumentation in achieving a diverse set of educational outcomes -- including cognitive development (Perret-Clairmont, Perret & Bell, 1989), higher order thinking (Vygotsky, 1972), conceptual change (Chi, Bassok, Lewis, Reimann & Glaser, 1989), emancipation (Mezirow, 1990), practical competence (Orr, 1996), epistemic development (Belenky, Tarule & Goldberger, 1997), and understanding (Gadamer, 1989).

Finally, the paper that I had chosen to present during RMPP class last Monday evening was "The effects of argumentation scaffolds on argumentation and problem solving" by Cho & Jonassen (2002). After the event, couldn't help but marvel at the elegance of the research design and its instrumentation, in particular, Toulmin's model of argumentation.

Would we Singaporeans one day experience true freedom of speech (free from the fear of being "swatted" with law suits, sedition acts, and what not) and at the same time practice constructive critiques, brotherly correction and even forgiving tolerance among ourselves? i pray and hope that i'll see that day. Soon.

by tree#138680 on Thu Oct 13 05 12:04 pm | profile



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