Meaning-making, the process of how individuals make
sense of knowledge, experience, relationships, and the
self, must be considered in designing college curricular
environments supportive of learning and development.
1Michael IgnelziRobert Kegan, whose theory of meaning-making is the focus of this chapter, relates a story told to him by a mother about her preschool-age son. The
son, named Johnny, comes to his mother one day and tells her he needs
some cow toenails. Living in the suburbs, the mother’s first thought is how
in the world she will obtain cow toenails, but she is even more intrigued by
why her son needs these items. When she asks, Johnny informs her that he
is starting a farm and wants to plant the cow toenails to grow some cows.
Mom’s initial thought is the confirming sense of how inventive and cute her
son is. Upon reflection, however, she decides that since Johnny raised the
issue, it might be a good time to teach him a little about “the birds and the
bees” (or in this case, “the cows”). After telling him a few basic facts about
reproduction, she says, “So you see, Johnny, that is where baby cows really
come from.” Johnny, who had been listening intently, pauses for a few
moments and then replies, “Not on my farm!”Children, who tend to be very honest about what they are thinking and
feeling as well as what they do and don’t understand, often provide clear
insights into truisms about how human beings function. Although this
volume is dedicated to developmental considerations in the learning and
teaching of college students, the story about Johnny illustrates some key
developmental principles that are useful in considering how all humans
experience and learn:
Meaning-Making in the Learning
and Teaching Process
|1. ||Humans actively construct their own reality. William Perry (1970)
states that what an organism does is organize and what a human organism
organizes is meaning. Kegan (1982, 1994) calls this process meaning-making.|
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Teaching to Promote Intellectual and Personal Maturity: Incorporating Students' Worldviews and Identities into the Learning Process.
Contributors: Marcia B. Baxter Magolda - Editor.
Place of publication: San Francisco.
Publication year: 2000.
Page number: 5.
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