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NATIONAL FORUM OF TEACHER EDUCATION JOURNAL VOLUME 18 NUMBER 3, 2008 National Insight: Six Philosophical Strategies for Implementing The Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning in the Curriculum for General Education Rhodena Townsell PhD Student in Educational Leadership The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education Prairie View A & M University Prairie View, Texas Principal Madisonville Consolidated Independent School District Madisonville, Texas ABSTRACTThe purpose of this article is to discuss six philosophical strategies for implementingthe realms of meaning as a process for selecting curriculum for the development ofthe complete person. The realms of knowing have been defined in The Ways ofKnowing Through the Realms of Meaning (Kritsonis, 2007). Suggested strategies are:Developing an understanding of the realms, balancing state compliancy with studentneeds, incorporating community values, curriculum alignment, teachercollaboration, and captivating student interest.______________________________________________________________________________________ Introduction The six realms of meaning cover the range of possible meanings and comprise thebasic competencies that general education should develop in every person. A completeperson should be skilled in the use of speech, symbol, and gesture (Symbolics), factuallywell informed (empirics), capable of creating and appreciating objects of estheticsignificance (esthetics), endowed with a rich and disciplined life in relation to self andothers (synnoetics), able to make wise decisions and to judge between right and wrong(ethics), and possessed of an integral outlook (synoptics). These are the aims of generaleducation for the development of complete persons (Phenix, 1989 & Kritsonis, 2007). 1
NATIONAL FORUM OF TEACHER EDUCATION JOURNAL2_____________________________________________________________________________________ Purpose of the Article The purpose of this article is to discuss six philosophical strategies forimplementing the realms of meaning as a process for selecting curriculum for thedevelopment of the complete person. The six realms of knowing have been defined inThe Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning (Kritsonis, 2007). This book is theproduct of twenty-four years of collaboration between Dr. William A. Kritsonis and Dr.Philip H. Phenix (Kritsonis, 2007). Dr. Kritsonis reminds us that philosophy is not a science but a way in whichpeople attempt to understand the world (Kritsonis, 2002). The job of educating childrenmust begin with concern for the whole child. The ultimate goal must be to create well-rounded persons who are life long learners. To achieve this goal all realms of knowingmust be utilized (Kritsonis, 2007). Study to Gain an Understanding of the Six Realms Educators must first understand the importance of the six realms and recognizetheir importance in the cultivation of young minds. Symbolics Symbolics is first realm in the ways of knowing through the realms of meaning.The three components are: Ordinary Language, Mathematics, and NondiscursiveSymbolic Forms Ordinary language concerns its self with the vocal sounds that are put together inorder for humans to communicate meaningfully with other individuals. With theexception of special needs students, most children come to school speaking in asomewhat intelligible manner. It is the job of schools to regulate speech into generalpatterns, which are understood and socially acceptable to use in all areas of society. The language of Mathematics is built on a foundation where educators must beginwith basic information, small pieces of information and gradually build upon. Most oftenstudents come to school with little understanding of Mathematical concepts and if schoolsare not proactive these students tend not to thrive because basic concepts fail to bemastered. Adding on both ends of the spectrum, remediation for those students in need ofremediation and enrichment for those excelling students serves to create individuals whoare competent and who can compete on a National level and achieve at successful levels. Understanding nondiscursive forms is much like ordinary language in that it isnecessary for students to understand and master but it is not a subject that can be directly
RHODENA TOWNSELL_____________________________________________________________________________________3taught. To have a working understanding body language, signs, and symbols means thatstudents have the ability to use visual cues to navigate our world in a more productiveway. The understanding signage and body language must be incorporated early ineducation. Most children come to school with great deal of understanding in this area.Role-play in school can magnify the importance of this portion of the symbolic realm. Empirics Empirics is realm the second realm in the ways of knowing through the realms ofmeaning. The four components are: Physical Science, Biology, Psychology, and theSocial Sciences. Students must understand the basic principles of empirics in order to function athigher levels of understanding in our society. Specific information about the nature andmake up of the world and its inhabitants is necessary to support continued life on theplanet; therefore, it is appropriate for early elementary students to be exposed to the basicconcepts of Science and Social Studies and have those concepts must be supported byMathematics and Language Arts studies. Upon this base of information, the specificsubject areas of Biology and Psychology can then be gradually added the curriculum tocreate an individual who can understand the balance of nature and the intricacies. Esthetics Esthetics is third realm in the ways of knowing through the realms of meaning.The four components are: Music, Visual Arts, The Arts of Movement, and Literature. Inhis lecture at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, Philip Phenix,described man as the only being appearing to engage in the appreciation of the estheticsin life because only man has a highly developed spiritual capacity for self-transcendence,enabling him to lose himself in the nonfunctional perception of an interesting other being.Lower animals appear to regard things with an eye to their own organic interests; they arenot fascinated with things as valuable in themselves. Only the self-transcending humanpercipient has the power of vicariously living the life of the interesting other being(Phenix, 1964). Synnoetics Synnoetics is fourth realm in the ways of knowing through the realms of meaning.
NATIONAL FORUM OF TEACHER EDUCATION JOURNAL4_____________________________________________________________________________________Synnoetics are defined as one’s personal knowledge. Synnoetics is not a subject that canbe directly taught. Synnoetics are lessons that are indirectly learned. They are insightsthat are gained from experiences. Synnoetics refer to the insight that a person has into hisown being and the insight that that same person has into the lives of other people. It is no secret that the use of personal knowledge, what one knows, can often affordan individual the opportunity to make advancements or mischief. The understanding ofself and of other people can lead a person to make decisions, which are either beneficialor detrimental. Ethics Ethics is the fifth realm in the ways of knowing through the realms of meaning.This is the realm of moral knowledge. Societies are built upon the understanding rightand wrong. Most students come to school with an understanding of right conduct and therelationship between it and good living. By listening to the daily news and checking withschool officials, it is obvious that there are many children who are not receiving thisguidance from their homes or churches. Schools have yet another obligation to work withstudents in obtaining this very necessary training. Synoptics Synoptics is the sixth and final realm. It consists of a general summary ofcollected data in the following component areas: History, Religion, and Philosophy.These parts are enterprise the belief system of an individual. This realm is the summationof all of the other parts of the six realms. Balance State Compliancy with Student Needs The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has left no doubt in the mind of educatorsthat all schools must be able to show evidence that their students are academicallythriving. Student achievement is reflected in terms of test scores. Sometimes the stakes oftesting well are so high until student needs and community values are left behind. Usingall six the realms of knowing as a guideline can aid schools in keeping the balancebetween what is mandated and what is ethical.
RHODENA TOWNSELL_____________________________________________________________________________________5 Properly Incorporate Community Values The rural school administrator’s role often requires his/her involvement in everyaspect of a school’s functions. It is crucial for rural school administrators to understandthe culture and expectations of the surrounding community in order to remain effective(Delpit, 1988). The school board, for the most part functions as the eye of thecommunity. As such the values of the community are often kept on the forefront. It isimportant for schools to keep the community involved by forging partnerships that keepthe bond strong. Curriculum Alignment The proper alignment of content is necessary to meet every student at his currentfunctioning level and take him to greater heights. Beginning with early elementary thebuilding blocks components of the realms of meaning must be set into place.Opportunities to receive instruction in concepts of basic language, Math, Science, SocialStudies must take place so that students in secondary schools can successfully navigatethe subjects of Biology and Psychology. Students in American public school settings are grouped into grade levels by theirages. Use of age appropriate material allows for a basic foundation to be laid and to begradually added upon. The study of human development aids in the understanding of thedelivery. This ensures that the average student’s capacity for learning and understandingis maximized at the optimal time. Opportunities for Teacher Collaboration Elementary teachers must be given the opportunity to collaborate in a relaxed andsup portative atmosphere with Secondary teachers on a frequent basis, lest theunderstanding of the needs of each group be lost. Collaboration is a must toaccommodate the needs of adult learners. Capturing Student Interest Student interests should not be overlooked in the scuffle reach mandatesand or uphold community traditions. By providing students with a curriculum that is
NATIONAL FORUM OF TEACHER EDUCATION JOURNAL6_____________________________________________________________________________________interesting and relevant to their every day existence educators can give them theopportunity to imagine the future and want to know more about it. This should be at theroot of any curriculum. Concluding Remarks In conclusion, understanding the importance of the realms of meaning, balancingstate compliancy with student needs, properly incorporate community values, aligning thecurriculum, providing opportunities for Elementary/Secondary teacher collaboration, andstriving to create lifelong learners are six ways for educators to incorporate The Ways ofKnowing Through the Realms of Meaning (Kritsonis, 2007). ReferencesDelpit, L.D. (19880. The silenced dialogue: Power and pedagogy in educating other people’s children. Harvard Educational Review. Retrieved September 19, 2007 from http://rpp.english.ucsb.edu/research/race-class-and-pedagogy/delpit-lisaKritsonis, W. (2007). Ways of knowing through the realms of knowing. Houston, Texas: National FORUM Press.Kritsonis, W., (2002). William Kritsonis, PhD on schooling. Mansfield, OH: BookMasters, Incorporated.Phenix, P. (1964). Man and his becoming. Retrieved November 2, 2007 from http://www.religion-online.orgPhenix, P. (1986). Realms of meaning. Los Angeles, CA: Printingcraft, Incorporated.