“Orality,” another name for narration?

“‘Orality; is a set of techniques which have developed following the great Lausanne Conference on World Evangelization, where the challenge of Oral Cultures was brought into the Spotlight. No longer do missionaries have to wait until a Gospel/NT has been translated to teach Bible Stories to the emerging Believers! Now folks who have never held a pen or pencil are given pen & paper and asked to make a little sketch which will remind THEM of a point in a story from the Bible. No one else has to recognize it… only the Storyteller. Such a series of visual notes [outline] helps her /him to share every point in the whole story with a new Listener! Now, in addition to many major languages, Bible Training for new leaders is also available in a format for Oral Cultures and Communities. The use of paper & pen also prepares the leaders for the possibility of Literacy, but that is no longer a limit today. This frees up illiterate evangelists to present in depth, multi-year Bible Studies. In some parts of the world… Memorization of revered writings is very common, but this dimension has been addressed poorly in most literate cultures (we think we can always go back & read the text again… so we don’t bother to learn it by heart, even though rote learning is superb for making Scripture handy for informal/spontaneous sharing of our Faith, answering questions posed by Searchers, & strengthening our Prayer Life by including God’s own Words and phrases. Try this out with one of Your favorite Bible Stories! See if you can tell the whole narrative without any re-reading?!”

Dr. David Upp’s Mission Link for September, 2017

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30,000 word gap between kids who come from reading homes and kids who don’t- by kindergarten

There is typically a 30,000 word vocabulary gap between disadvantaged children and their age-mates from homes where reading is common.*

You want kids to be on the better side of that gap? Start young. Start *really* young. TALK with your kids often. Talk to your babies. Enrich their lives with language even while they are in the womb.
READ good books (not junk) to them.
Tell them stories.
Take them to parks, museums, the beach, the pet store, the bread store, the farm, the store, the neighbours garden and talk about what you see, what you are doing.
LISTEN to what they have to say. Engage them. Ask them questions (not quizzes, but real questions- which do you like better? What does this look like? Would you want to be a baker? What do you think looks like the most fun? The most interesting?)

What about the kids who are in the vocabulary deficit side, and who don’t live at your house? What can we do for them?
This gap handicaps the kids on the losing end pretty much forever. They never catch up, and meanwhile, the kids with the vocabulary are able to keep adding to it- because the more you already know, the easier it is to learn more.

Plenty of research indicates that one of the best predictors of academic success, even a pretty decent measure of intelligence, is vocabulary size.

So in typical bureaucratic fashion, we try to fix this by giving targeted (and boring) readers and pages of vocabulary lists to memorize and then match up on a test. But that isn’t how vocabulary works. That’s not how the kids with the 30,000 word advantage gained that rich and comprehensive bank of words, and it’s not how they use it or add to it.

They picked up their extensive vocabulary naturally, in context, by hearing and seeing those words used over and over in different contexts and situations in daily life, over time, and by using those words themselves, sometimes badly, sometimes accurately, regularly, over time, in communication with others. They are able to do that because they are part of a language rich environment- a family that loves books, a family that talks to each other, a family that experiences different things together and discusses them.
Small children I know who have learned and used words like slaughter, aghast, glisten, tentacles, majestic, inheritance, deciduous, and so on did not learn those words because their parents gave them a targeted list of vocabulary words and set out to have them learn them through rote memory.
THey learned those words because they heard stories from the King James Bible, visited aquariums, read stories about kings and queens and went to nature parks and saw trees and read books about the ocean and forests and were told fairy tales that included those or similar words, and they talked about them. Every time they read another story, had another conversation, visited another park or zoo, got to overhear their parents in a Bible study with friends, they heard the words again, and the words they learned last month helped them understand some words they learned this month, which will help them with another chunk of knowledge when they go camping three months from now- it’s a web of connections.

Literacy expert Catherine Snow points out that “we need to… stop referring to the 30 million word gap as a gap in access
to vocabulary and start thinking about it as a gap in access
to knowledge”.

How do we fix that? I don’t know- but memorizing targeted vocabulary lists isn’t enough. Whatever we can do that most mimics the natural way other kids gain their vocabulary advantage makes the most sense to me- fewer lists and tests and more stories and talking about them. Fewer worksheets and more real life experiences, growing things, making things, looking at and tasting new things and *talking* about those experiences, and doing it for hours and hours every week- and if at all possible, involving somebody from their families. If that were easy, they wouldn’t be starting school with a 30,000 word language deficit compared to their peers. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth reaching out, even if you can only find one child to help, that one child is worth helping.

@(some articles: https://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/september/toddler-language-gap-091213.html
https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/12/low-income-kids-face-a-massive-word-gap-heres-one-way-to-fix-it/425622/)

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From the Humbolt Hockey Team’s Memorial Service

Most of you probably know about the horrible accident in Saskatchewan, Canada, which killed 15 people from the Humbolt Bronco’s hockey team, including the coach, Darcy Haugan. The team chaplain, Sean Brandow spoke at a memorial service and this is part of his message:
 
“I talked to Darcy numerous times about what should we be doing at chapel and we sat down at the beginning of this year. It’s written on the back of the Broncos truck, maybe you haven’t even noticed, it says ‘character determines success.’ I’m not going to lie to you, your boys aren’t completely full of character — they cheat in every game that we do a chapel, I know that’s for sure — they’re imperfect, but Darcy has done an incredible job of bringing together men who desire character.
 
So we wanted to talk about character, and a week or two in, Darcy just turned to me and said, ‘Sean, you’ve got to just tell them about Jesus, don’t worry about all the character, they need Jesus.’ I would do Darcy a dishonour and a displeasure, and I do would myself the same, and I would do anyone who is a Christian if I tried to give you pat answers, and here’s a list of things you can do to feel better.. You need Jesus, he’s walked here, he’s walked it first and death couldn’t hold him. Death couldn’t hold him. He’s alive. And he sits at the right hand of God on the throne and he’s in control. It doesn’t feel like it, but he is….”
 
We all need Jesus. Nothing else will ever address what’s wrong with us, what is hurting us, what we’re fighting, what’s depressing us, what’s making us anxious, what’s making us angry, hurt, or worried.
 
We need Jesus. Nothing less will ever lift us from the woes of this life and bring us to a better life beyond.
 
http://ca.lalalay.com/news/canada/-69900-humboldt-pastor-s-anguished-speech-where-was-god/
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Improving Ourselves to Death

New YOrker offers a series of quickie overviews of books on self-improvement, periodically spiced with sharp observations on the trends in self-improvement. Here’s one of the reviews:

“In a consumerist society, we are not meant to buy one pair of jeans and then be satisfied,” Cederström and Spicer write, and the same, they think, is true of self-improvement. We are being sold on the need to upgrade all parts of ourselves, all at once, including parts that we did not previously know needed upgrading. (This may explain Yoni eggs, stone vaginal inserts that purport to strengthen women’s pelvic-floor muscles and take away “negative energy.” Gwyneth Paltrow’s Web site, Goop, offers them in both jade and rose quartz.) There is a great deal of money to be made by those who diagnose and treat our fears of inadequacy; Cederström and Spicer estimate that the self-improvement industry takes in ten billion dollars a year. (They report that they each spent more than ten thousand dollars, not to mention thousands of hours, on their own quests.) The good life may have sufficed for Plato and Aristotle, but it is no longer enough. “We are under pressure to show that we know how to lead the perfect life,” Cederström and Spicer write.”

 

The New Yorker authors note this self-improvement thing is heavily influenced by culture and era, and they go back ten years to show a different idea about self-improvement (wishful thinking, basically, from The Secret).

It’s not that self-improvement is all that new, but what we view as self improvement does change over time.  Note the differences between Benjamin Franklin’s system of self-improvement and our modern approach:

“It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into.”

INcidentally, my favourite commentary on the virtues Franklin chose is what he has to say himself about his failures in the pursuit of order:

“My scheme of Order gave me the most trouble… Order, too, with regard to places for things, papers, etc., I found extremely difficult to acquire. I had not been early accustomed to it, and, having an exceeding good memory, I was not so sensible of the inconvenience attending want of method. This article, therefore, cost me so much painful attention, and my faults in it vexed me so much, and I made so little progress in amendment, and had such frequent relapses, that I was almost ready to give up the attempt, and content myself with a faulty character in that respect… for something, that pretended to be reason, was every now and then suggesting to me that such extreme nicety as I exacted of myself might be a kind of foppery in morals, which, if it were known, would make me ridiculous; that a perfect character might be attended with the inconvenience of being envied and hated; and that a benevolent man should allow a few faults in himself, to keep his friends in countenance.

In truth, I myself incorrigible with respect to Order; and now I am grown old, and my memory bad, I feel very sensibly the want of it. But, on the whole, tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavor, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it; as those who aim at perfect writing by imitating the engraved copies, tho’ they never reach the wished-for excellence of those copies, their hand is mended by the endeavor, and tolerable, while it continues fair and legible.”

The self improvement he sought was focused on 13 virtues he determined to work on through out his life. They included: Temperance, Industry, Frugality, Sincerity and Justice, as well as orderliness.

So did Marcus Aurelius.recommend the examined life, and so have many others before and after him.

I always am suspicious of any program for self improvement which requires spending money and buying stuff as part of the first step.

I am likewise suspicious that our culture tends to substitute improved accessorizing for improving our personal virtue and habits.

But now I am wondering about the cultural aspects of self-improvement as well.

Having just finished the lecture on being vs doing cultures in David LIvermore’s Cultural Intelligence series, I was struck by how very ‘doing culture’ our modern self-improvement courses programs are, which makes sense.  Livermore explains:

“Our upbringing and culture strongly influence the importance we
attribute to taking care of ourselves, being productive, and striving
for work-life balance. All cultures value time, but it’s what we do
with our time that is strongly influenced by our cultural backgrounds. ”

There are being cultures and doing cultures, and they influence how a culture views the role of
work and the use of time.”

Another explanation I found online:

“Here are some very broad characteristics of doing cultures:

  • Status is earned (e.g. the work you do in your job). It is not merely a function of who you are (e.g.  birth, age, seniority).
  • Status is not automatic and can be forfeited if one stops achieving (e.g. you quit your job).
  • Great emphasis is placed on deadlines, schedules etc.
  • Tasks take precedence over personal relationships in most cases (e.g. your family may not like it but they understand if you have to miss a family birthday party because you have work to do).
  • People are supposed to have a personal opinion, which they are expected to verbalize.

And here are some very broad characteristics of being cultures:

  • Status is built into who a person is. It’s automatic and therefore difficult to lose.
  • Titles are important and should always be used, in order to show appropriate respect for someone’s status.
  • Harmony should be maintained, and therefore direct confrontation or disagreement is to be avoided. Saving face is highly valued.
  • Relationships often take precedence over tasks. Much time is spent on greeting and farewell rituals or getting to know someone before agreeing to do business with them.

Of course, most cultures are a mix of both doing and being.

But, in general, they tend to lean more towards one extreme than the other.”

Me, I’m more in the being camp and always have been, I just didn’t have a name for it.  Other people had a name for it. They called it lazy.  I reject that now and henceforth and shall explain to those people they are being cultural imperialists and exhibiting a hegemonic hostility toward my ‘being’ culture.

(You may also like The Sheep that Shopping Shaped)

Posted in culture, Davao Diary | 2 Responses

Cultural difference revisited: time

I cannot say if this is country wide or just accidental artifact of my smallish circle, but of the four local doctors I know of, 3 do not take appointments. They have office hours and it is first come first serve.

The 4th is a white North American psychologist, so he hardly counts at all.

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