Women's Ways of Learning LO24535

From: Sajeela M ramsey (sajeelacore@juno.com)
Date: 05/02/00

Dear Co-learners,

(preview: this communication is roughly 8 fairly short paragraphs in

I wanted to share some ideas with the LO list members from a book I have
been reading. I was wondering if it would be worthwhile to observe our own
discussions in relation to some of the ideas introduced herein.

The book is entitled "Women's Ways of Knowing; The Development of Self,
Voice and Mind" (1986, Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger and Tarule) In it the
authors define:

1) "knowlege" as implying separation from a given object with the goal of
obtaining mastery over it, as distinct from
2) "understanding", which involves intimacy and equality within one's own
subjective experience, and the ability to share a subjective experience

These two orientations may (and the authors do not make any hard and fast
conclusions) be gender related but are not gender-specific. I would
personally broaden this exploration and suggest that these orientations
are generally culture-bound.

The writers also cite two distinct forms of procedural knowledge or ways
of making meaning, stating that these are also two distinct conceptions of

1) separate knowing and
2) connected understanding

According to the authors, at the heart of separate knowing is critical
thinking, where communication is motivated by a need to conform to the
demands of external authorities. Separate knowers' procedures for making
meaning are impersonal, abstract, highly elaborated and explicitly
codified in the sciences. In its historical Euro-western context seperate
knowing is rooted in rhetorical Socratic dialogue, an adverserial and
distinctively masculine style of discourse refined in an era where Latin
was used almost exclusively by males to engage in a style of learning
where an impersonal Truth was established by means of positing a thesis
and then challenging this with an ani-thesis.

The voice of separate knowing is a specialized voice of public discourse
where the speaker exhibits their knowledge in a series of public
performances as they adress their messages not to themselves or intimate
friends, but to strangers. Often, the speaker's words are aimed not at
imparting meaningful ideas so much as they are intended to give doubt to
and manipulate listener's reactions, as the listener is considered to be a
potentially hostile judge. In essence, separate knowers defend themselves
against the perceived authorities in their lives. In accepting
authorities' standards separate knowers make themselves vulnerable to
their criticism.

On the other hand, connected understanding is a generalized voice
motivated by a need to understand the opinions of other people in their
full comprehensive richness, and by a personal interest in relation to
hearing and including others in creating meaning. In groups, connected
understanders engage in collaborative explorations in order to co-learn.

The authors indicate that both separate knowing and connected
understanding are useful in groups, but that they ideally need to co-exist
in balanced proportions in order that the group might obtain their optimum
communicative benefits.

Birds and windchimes on overcast spring day,

Sajeela Moskowitz Ramsey, President - CORE Consulting
Center for Organizational Renewal and Effectiveness
2432 Villanova Drive/Vienna, VA. 22180
703 573 7050/ SajeelaCore @Juno.com


Sajeela M ramsey <sajeelacore@juno.com>

[Host's Note: In assoc with Amazon.com ...

Women's Ways of Knowing : The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind by Mary Field Belenky, Blythe Clinchy, Nancy Goldberger, Jill Mattuck Tarule http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0465090990/learningorg


Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <Richard@Karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.