“A good conversation,” says redbeardthewriter, “has new ideas and old ideas working together” (Comment 10, the sordid process of nation creation and occupation).  I had hoped that more of the first-year students would take what they realize is the next step and “add to a conversation and expand not only the audience’s view but also ours” (Comment 3, Unknown 29), yet most of them reiterated (as noted by junior likeboldcolors, Comment 17) the WHAT or WHY of the assignment rather than experimenting with the HOW.  I believe that they understand what comes next in a real conversation (instead of this artificial one in the educational frame of simply answering the teacher’s obvious (?) and boring (?) question), but the actual shift from accustomed form (give the teacher what she wants) to active engagement (independent, individual thought about the content, in this case, the internationally recognized national independence of Hawai’i) has not yet occurred.

“The next step could possibly be bringing up opinions on more politicized issues, to really get the pot stirring,” suggests balderdash1 (Comment 7).  A few students did venture – briefly – into this territory.  Ajch admits, ““I personally don’t know how to reply to this blog. I still don’t fully understand the conflict between the Hawaiian Nationals and the United States” (comment 5).  An option for continuing the conversation would have been to express the points of confusion, explaining what is difficult or as yet unclear. This would accomplish what treschouette suggests:  “To make people understand where we come from we must relate to their ideas and explain our own in terms that they are comfortable with” (Comment 8).  Telling us about the experience of “confusion” only gives us information, while identifying the source or point(s) of confusion invites continued talking.

Winglsammi went further along the path of a next step: “The United States tries to hide up the negative history, in order to let the United States citizens be proud of their coutries, be patriot” (comment 13).  This is new in the development of our conversation to date because winglsammi attributes intention (“tries to hide”), a value (“negative”), and motive “(to let…citizens be proud”).  What is old in our conversation fits the definition given by redbeardthewriter: “…If people only say the same things over and over to the same audience, it becomes commonplace, annoying…” (Comment 10).  Imagine my position (“the same audience”), reading essentially the same answer over, and over – even from previous blogpost assignments to this one!  I am not upset, because I understand the conditioned response to teacher-assigns-homework-to-students, but I am a bit dismayed at the depth of indoctrination.  I even wrote – to prompt you in the direction of taking next steps:

Now what? Does the conversation end with the articulation of varying points-of-view, different capacities for hope, and limits to imagination? Or do we find a way to carry on talking a new kind of talk based on learning the diversity of opinion and complexity of obstacles? Shall we go through the motions, saying all the things that have already been said over-and-over again, or shall we find ways to say things that have not yet been uttered – and keep saying them until they lead to change?

Pylee’s comment combines elements of ajch’s not-knowing-how and winglsammi’s evaluation:  “The history between the Hawaii and America, was a mysterious to us since we do not know which side is right and which side is wrong.However, through the reference and the historical effects, we can see that how it works, how the system works and how the people feel in the issue” (Comment 14).  If you do not experience a sense of mystery when you read about new things, then you may want to inquire about your own sense of curiousity: when, where, and how does it arise?  Conversely, when, how, and why does your mind go numb?  Redbeardthewriter (Comment 10) is on to something important with the distinction between old and new ideas, the element of time (as in longevity), and the attachments that develop. Sorting out areas of agreement and disagreement for change and preservation is the task of dialogue, a task that grows more complicated with entrenchment (longevity) and variety of viewpoints.

Of course, as balderdash1 appears to critique, continuing to take next steps “would generate a ridiculous amount of conversation” (Comment 7).  Hmmmm.  Ridiculous?  What if I say mjollnir89 is right?  I am “indicating that even our words can be used as a source, are important enough to use, valuable enough to form an argument around” (Comment 11).  Why would I believe this and aim to convince you to recognize the value and power of your own words?  Many of you realize that I am teaching skills that are useful beyond researching an academic paper.  Why? PbandJelly21’s idea gets at part of the reason: “Either you will conversate until it leads to change, or you conversate and nothing comes of it but getting your opinion out there, which is a win win situation” (Comment 15).  Another part is the connection itself – as long as we are talking we are in some kind of relationship with each other.  A third part is that talking or not talking about a particular thing establishes value in relation to that thing.  From this perspective, there is no such thing as “a distant issue that has no real impact on our lives” (Comment 11, mjollnir89).  Although mjollnir’s notion that I may “just be summarizing our mad raving” is food for thought.  ☺

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