Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My individual perspective on the group....

I was reading one of those pieces in the New York Times that all educated people are supposed to read so that you can say to your colleagues, yes, I saw that.....or maybe even you don't ever have say you read it but you have to be ready to say you read it, just in case.......

This was the one about Darwin. Anthropologists have to read all stories about Darwin. Just like all historians have to read all stories about Lincoln. It just works that way. Its an example of something. I think.

Anyway, back to Darwin. I, actually, found something relevant for the blog--which is about teaching anthropology, in case you forgot. This is the part that worked me up (snipped out of context):

“More and more I’m beginning to think about individualism as our own cultural bias that more or less explains why group selection was rejected so forcefully and why it is still so controversial,” says David Sloan Wilson, a biologist at Binghamton University.

Okay, I am not commenting on the group selection issue. A woman has to know her limitations and that would be mine. But the cultural bias of our individualism is something I deal with every, single day in class. It is so very, very difficult to get most students away from their default thinking of individual first. So few have much of a concept of "the group". Without a doubt, we have raised up a group of reductionist thinkers. Psych enrollments are three to four times Soc ones at our institution and nationwide.

I have got to the point where I just chant group level, group level, periodically during lecture because I know they are almost always putting themselves in individual shoes and "feeling" not analyzing from that wider perspective. Everybody into the pool.

Better go head on over to Neuroanthropology to see if they have something about what I was supposed to learn from that article. See you there.


larry c wilson said...

For this historian reading another book on Lincoln would be the equivalent of staring at my navel.

Morgan said...

o man. reminding me so much of the last tutorial I ran..we were dealing with the sexual practices of the Sambia (english boarding school pattern)..and my students said that "we can't judge them because they were uneducated and they haven't been to school". ARGH.