Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Finding Good Answers

In my work with international students, I have been asked many questions over the years, and one of my roles as a teacher is to help them learn how to find answers to their questions, particularly when it comes to understanding people from
so many different cultures.
First of all, I try to emphasis that people who teach them HOW to think are people worth listening to because they don’t view themselves as the source of knowledge. However, people who tell or teach my students WHAT to think are probably caught up in their own wisdom and intellectual hubris, and they can’t seek the flaws in their own reasoning.
The second point is learning to ask the right questions to get the right answers. Simply asking, “So, what do American families like to do at Christmas?” is the wrong question because it first starts out with an unclear definition of who Americans are.
Brazilians are Americans; Hondurans are Americans; Mexicans are Americans. (I am also concerned when people stereotype the cultures of my own students which can lead to unfortunate and harmful labeling.)
This question about “Americans” that comes from a very ethnocentric worldview makes it impossible to answer because it isn’t based on a clear definition of what an American is.
So, on whatever topic or field of study you are in, learning how to think logically and rationally is one of the keys to a deeper understanding of the world around you.

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