Posts tagged Arnold Bennett

“Paradigms Power Perception and Perceptions Power Emotions”

“Most emotions are responses to perception—what you think is true about a given situation.  If your perception is false, then your emotional response to it will be false too.  So check your perceptions, and beyond that check the truthfulness of your paradigms—what you believe. Just because you believe something firmly doesn’t make it true.  Be willing to reexamine what you believe.  The more you live in the truth, the more your emotions will help you see clearly…

I’m in a book discussion group and the above title and quote was taken from the chapter titled “Verbs and Other Freedoms.” Some heady stuff out of a bizarre, fictional account of a father wanting to come to terms with his young daughter’s murder. I sped read this book by William P. Young, “The Shack” published in 2007 when it first came out. The second time around, I’m reading it more leisurely and thoughtfully because I am discussing it with nine other ladies.

In our discussion last night, the context of this particular chapter brought up expectation vs. expectancy and also responsibility in relationships and rules.  Of course, I see things almost in a 3-D way (the latest fad in cartoons for movie goers). First, I perceive things from an American point of view, also where I have lived in other Asian or post-Soviet cultures but finally I am currently trying to absorb the Kazakh culture in Astana, Kazakhstan.  American + other Asian or Ukrainian cultures + Kazakhstan = 3D!!!

“Perplexed” is the main verb for me when living in Astana, I’ve used the highly descriptive word “flummoxed” before too.  Kazakhs have about 120 different nationalities living amongst them so that mix includes people from Germany, Korea, Turkey, Russia, Mongolia and other countries from the Soviet Union.

What happens when conflicting paradigms come in contact with one another?  Do the perceptions of differing parties compromise on their own and embrace the other or do they stiffen up by adhering to their own rules that are their culture’s norm?  Do some cultures seek truth in their paradigms?  Do the Kazakhs want truthfulness to be a part of their culture? Do they have some tried and true proverbs that speak to that issue about truth? I doubt it. Obviously, I have more questions than answers.

I don’t think anyone purposefully seeks after wrong thinking. To me, that would be like a person going after poison with self-destructive motives. Many people are sincerely convinced about their own perceived truths and what has been handed down to them from their elders.  Are they willing to reexamine what they have been taught in order to make a paradigm shift?  Wars are ignited when paradigms bang into each other, the hotheads can only think about killing the other person with supposed “wrong thinking.”

So how does one “live in the truth,” as the author William P. Young, suggests in this fictional account which is totally unrelated to Kazakhstan?  Yet in a way, I think there is much soul searching among most Kazakh and Kazakhstani people in this vast land.  This might be stretching it, but the murder of Kazakhstan’s reputation has happened, it was once a proud and prosperous land going back to the great conqueror Genghis Khan. Just as the father in this fictional thriller has to come to terms with murder and seeking vengeance, so too Kazakhstan has to resolve some age old issues.

I believe the younger Kazakh people in today’s 21st century generation are taking responsibility and want to have a global perspective.  They want to be in relationship with the rest of the world of the big global players but there are rules to go by in order to be counted in the game. However, at the same time the Central Asians are holding on to their cultural norms to respect their elders. Unfortunately, many of the older people in Kazakhstan haven’t made the paradigm shift into the globalized world we live in. We have a recipe for disaster and maybe no hope.  We talked about hope last night, that’s what keeps us moving forward. Will the Kazakhs be able to keep their forward momentum going?

Yes, the older people have strong emotions one way or the other about believing that the Soviet Union was the best because there was a perceived stability. The post-Soviet undercurrents swirl around all of us who live in Kazakhstan depending on what happened in the past, what is currently happening with the world economy in peril and what will happen in the future.  Soul, spirit and whatever else makes up a person besides emotion and intellect is very important too.  That is why I’ll end with this quote that I love attributed to Arnold Bennett:

“There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.”

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Writing “Jerry Maguire”-like – with PASSION!

I want my Kazakh students to write with passion, Jerry Maguire-like.  I had forgotten the one key part at the beginning of the movie played by Tom Cruise, which came out in 1996. Jerry’s passionate writing of his Mission Statement had gotten him into trouble.  I watched it again last night after viewing it the first time about 12 years ago having only remembered Cuba Gooding’s priceless line “Show Me the Money!!!”  Cuba deserved getting “Best Supporting Actor” in the Academy Awards.  But Tom Cruise also nailed it with his performance and thus he got “Best Actor” award.  Renee Zellweger, playing a single mom didn’t do so bad either but Ray, her little boy in the movie, stole the show. 

To refresh my readers’ memory, Cruise plays a former law student who turned into a sports agent for professional athletes in football, hockey, and basketball.  Eventually he had enough of the high pressure of playing the game of dog-eat-dog competition and threw in the towel by speaking the truth in his writing.  What was supposed to be a one page statement turned into a 25 page diatribe.

The passion Maguire wrote with one night into the wee hours was remarkable and Renee Zellweger picked up on it, but she was the only one.  Maguire had disseminated his Mission Statement the next morning to about 100 of his co-workers which left him jobless and without his superficial, ornery fiancé. By the end of the movie, after he develops a relationship with his one and only client, Cuba Gooding and gets married to Renee to be with her boy, does it all come together again.  The beauty of the movie is that Maguire follows his heart by putting his job and love life on the line.  He spoke the truth, but not without some bumps and bruises along the way.

 One of my favorite quotes is by Arnold Bennett: “There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.”

Last week I talked to four out of five of my classes about this above quote.  That is how important being passionate about truth is to me. Now my Kazakh students know how important passion is and I want them to write Jerry Maguire-like.   The first two weeks I have given most all of them Kolb’s Learning Styles questionnaire, a temperament sorter and a Multiple Intelligence inventory.  I have given these same things for the last 20 years to hundreds and hundreds of my ESL/EFL students. I like to learn about who each individual is in my classroom.  I’m kind of like Jerry Maguire in giving special attention to each of my clients beyond just knowing them as numbers or feeders into the tuition coffers. In the meantime, while getting to know my 100 PLUS Kazakh students,  I’m still waiting for the last of them to show up for class before we begin full tilt with satisfying the requirements of the syllabus. 

I already found out that 64% of my Kazakh students are choleric, see earlier post.  What I’m also discovering is when administering the Multiple Intelligence inventory there is a wide variety of student profile results showing up in six of the intelligences: linguistic, logic/math, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, music and interpersonal.  (I didn’t include the last one of intrapersonal because it didn’t fit on two pages.  I’m sure there are those students who know who they are and where they are going.  I have to find that third page of the questionnaire in my piles of paper.) 

What I DID find out is that when giving a self-report in the Linguistic section is that not many of our Kazakh students take pride in what they write.  They either checked or did not check the blank before the sentence: “I am proud of what I write.  Sometimes I get special recognition for my writing.”  What was perplexing was that only about 25% of my two writing classes checked that to be true for them.  In my two listening classes the percentages were higher, 50% and 60%.  That means, we as writing teachers, have students sitting in our classroom who either are not proud of what they write because they don’t know how or they have not been recognized for their talents.  However, not many scored high in linguistic where you would have the budding, potential future writers of the country.  (to be continued in tomorrow’s blog)

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Why I LOVE Kazakhstan, Mountains and My Students




Now who would want to teach in Almaty, Kazakhstan, with mountains in the landscape and fun students in the foreground, I ask you.  We are in the home stretch with problem and solution essays and I am getting preliminary writings from my students about their final portfolio projects.  Interesting that the person who asked about Alatau Sanatorium liked the quote that I use with every signing off on my e-mails by Arnold Bennett:

“There can be no knowledge without emotion.  We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours.  To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.”

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