Spring SAVY 2018, Day 2- Truth vs. Perception (5th/6th)
We began our discussion today by bringing back journal entries from last week–whether or not our personal truths are universal. This led us into our next lesson on how perception to anthropological studies and how we relate to other cultures. We read the satirical piece “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” by Horace Miner, which describes the daily ritual of the American people as though they are the “exotic” Nacirema tribe. This led to a conversation about cultural relativism, and in-group/out-group biases on a national level. In the reading, we saw that American behaviors can seem magical or silly when described from a different perspective. We ended this part of the discussion on the idea that perceptions of culture can be wrong, and talked about some of the dangers of other-ing cultures, or seeing them as strange. Students were able to draw the conclusion if you close people out just because they are from a different culture, they will reciprocally close you out, and you have missed the opportunity to make a friend–and all because of a false perception.
Next, we moved on to discussing American values a little more critically. We began by listing some of the ideals we strive to meet as Americans- the American Dream, freedom of press and speech, democracy, etc. However, we then created a “…but” list of things that still exist despite these ideals, bringing us such ideas of corruption, hate speech, inequality, and discrimination. Can we say the ideals are still true, even though they are riddled with exceptions? This conversation turned to defining equality and freedom. We say we are the home of the free, but what exactly does this mean? One student mentioned that he is not free because he couldn’t get up and leave the class to rob a bank in that moment, while others refuted saying freedom is not necessarily this absolute anarchist libertarianism. We will continue this conversation about ideals, reality, and satire next Saturday with the reading of Jonathan Swift’s satirical piece “A Modest Proposal”. Overall, it is interesting to see the lack of complacency with our current system amongst the more vocal students of the class, and to hear the many students who are driven to make this world a more equal place. I think we might have some social justice warriors in our group.
As the conversation got kind of heated, we ended the class on a lighter note examining perception as it relates to the much loved concept of Optical Illusions with a TEDTalk.
Dr. Jill Anderson