tirsdag 21. juli 2015

Reflections on the teaching of social structure in two ancient cultures pt. 1

The "first" attainment goal in H&P are:

  • compare social structures and the conditions of natural surroundings from two ancient cultures, and discuss the ideas that typify these societies
  • elaborate on and discuss how human beings in ancient cultures understood time, sought after meaning and transferred knowledge between generations
  • reflect on how myths can influence the understanding of reality and stories, and discuss how myths attempt to provide answers to fundamental questions within ancient cultures

The first thing I want to do here, is to break this goal down into bits. From thence, I will look out for sources on the Internet that can help me understand the various aspects of the goal. Furthermore, I want you to help me find additional sources for this specific goal. Naturally, I cannot use all the sources, since this is but one of many attainment goals that my students have to "pass" before Christmas.

The students are to know how to compare social structures and the conditions of natural surroundings of two ancient cultures. In order to do that, we need first to understand what is meant by "social structures" and "natural surroundings." Second, we need to identify two ancient cultures. 

Social structures
Wikipedia defines social structures thus:
In the social sciencessocial structure is the patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. On the macro scale, social structure is the system of socioeconomic stratification (e.g., the class structure), social institutions, or, other patterned relations between large social groups. On the meso scale, it is the structure of social network ties between individuals or organizations. On the micro scale, it can be the way norms shape the behavior of actors within the social system.

Social structure. (2015, July 2). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:12, July 21, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Social_structure&oldid=669605745

The key questions my students needs to understand here will therefore be:

  • Who has the power in  the given society?
  • Who gave him the power?
  • What kind of story is told about when he obtained the power?
  • What is the relationship between power and religion in this society?
  • What kind of economy does this society have?
  • Who is rich and who is poor? 
  • What kinds of possibilities does an individual have in this society? What is the place of the individual given in this society?
I do not know if this will suffice as a template for analyzing the social structures in the two cultures the students are supposed to study. 

Here it appears to me that I need to explain about how for instance Marx understands how a society is arranged. His  economic concepts seems to me to be useful to introduce at this point. 

Also, Weber will naturally be useful to introduce here. Can somebody also give me feedback on other theories relevant here? 

It is vital to recognize the role of religion in the various societies students are to look closer at. Religion directed all aspects of the lives of the people living at the time we are studying. It helped humans understand the way nature and their societies were organized. Sometimes, cities fought against each other and the strife was fought between the people on the behalf of the humans living in the various cities. The tales about the activities of the gods were often written down as myths. Humans were but pawns in the great game that the gods played. They had to obey the gods orders. It was impossible for kings to decide upon some great affairs without the consent of the gods. And the kings made their power known to all the people. They ordered the building of vast structures like the Ziggurats and the pyramids. These edifices were of course symbols of the power of the kings, but they also was so much more. They were also symbols of the economic structure of the systems. 

The first civilizations were founded along the banks of huge rivers like the euphrates and the Nile. Life here was filled with uncertainties. The water could break the dikes something that would directly cost lives. Sometimes the fields could be flooded. This meant the loss of income for one or many years. The relationship between the individual and nature was precarious. In addition, it is important to note that: 
"[c]ontributing to this sense of insecurity was the belief that the gods had little love for humanity. they had created a "savage, 'man' shall be his name ... [who] shall be charged with the service of the gods that they might be at ease." Toward humans the gods behaved capriciously, maliciously and vindictively, and it was difficult to please them."

Marvin Perry, Myrna Chase, James R. Jacob, Margaret C. Jacob, Theodore H. Von Laue:  Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics, and Society, Volume 1: To 1789Tenth Edition. Boston, 2013, p. 12f.

The gods nonetheless represented important ideals for humans to follow. The myths explained why life was filled with toil. Creation myths explained how time began and how it changed to become what it is like today. Myths explaiend how the stars became fixed to heaven, the trajectory of the Sun and why there are four seasons. What is perhaps most important when it comes to the significance of myths is what they tell us about how society is arranged, the cosmogony. This is a compound of the words kosmos (the world order) and genesis (creation). 

(This is just my humble definition of the word. Wikipedia has one definition that is certainly more precise: The word comes from the Koine Greek κοσμογονία (from κόσμος "cosmos, the world") and the root of γί(γ)νομαι / γέγονα ("come into a new state of being").[3]In astronomy, cosmogony refers to the study of the origin of particular astrophysical objects or systems, and is most commonly used in reference to the origin of the universe, the solar system, or the earth-moon system.[1][2] Cosmogony. (2015, June 9). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:14, July 21, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cosmogony&oldid=666151784)

It is common to divide cosmogenic myths into six parts:

  1. Creation from nothing
  2. Creation from chaos
  3. Creation from a cosmic egg
  4. Creation from a previous generation of parents
  5. Creation through a series of unexpected events
  6. Creation through a diver that dives into the primordial waters and who picks up the world
So why is it relevant to have an open and critical relationship to the concept of myths? I think this is because myths are still very much with us today. They provoke strong feelings in humans to this day. Religions are based upon myths and myths guide peoples lives. 

Even though we have scientific explanations about how the universe was created, we still cannot grasp the magnitude of this event. The big bang was an event that took place 13.82 billion years ago. Today, we have technology that can help us understand how this event took place. We can actually look back in time

Still, human lives are lived from day to day. We grow up, we fall in love, we find a suitable job and some of us establish a family. As humans we tend to reflect upon these events. Why did they happen? What could be done otherwise? 

Today, we are faced with extreme violence based upon myths. That this should be something that takes place today, is very strange to me. Do we not have access to all kinds of information? Are we not able to converse and discuss all the problems in the world? Why is not dialogue an option? 

I think it  would be useful to reflect upon the meaning of myths in relation to the individual. Today, we face the opportunity to make an independent choice of wether we want to adhere to one myth or the other. Adherence gives meaning to the individual. Sadly, the choice of some have led to tragic events in the past and continue to do so in the present. Here, I am thinking about terrorism and recruitment to anti-democratic organizations. Students needs to understand that every person has a responsibility both to themselves and the society they live in to reflect upon their choices and what it in essence means to be a human. What is it that makes us who we are? 

At this point, I'd say, that the ability to think is what makes us humans. It separate us from other creatures and it gives us a responsibility. 

What questions needs to be asked?

The obvious question to ask students here is: why did the people let this happen? Why did they no revolt? If they were angered with the "system" did they nonetheless subscribe to the way it was arranged? What were the alternatives? Is revolt a modern notion? 

Another important question to reflect upon is of course: Why have politics and religion always been connected? Is there any natural relationship between those two? Why are humans led to believe in an "alternative" to reality?

Here, we have come back to the definition of a social structure and the way Marx sees it. It is important here to understand that there is, in fact, a relationship between those two. Also relevant in this context is it to introduce Durkheim and his definition of culture. 

mandag 20. juli 2015

Let's connect

For the past six months I've been home with my second child, in Norwegian pappaperm. As you can gather, I am very keen on getting back to work. But, I have to wait until August...

Who am I?

My name is Ole Kristian and i work at Rosenvilde upper secondary school in Bærum, Norway. Previously, I've worked at Sørumsand upper secondary school. I began my teaching practice at a Norwegian school in Rojales. I have also worked at Westerdals Oslo School of Arts, Communication and Technology.

This year I celebrate my first year as a teacher. These have been very formative and interesting years where I have had the chance to learn about teaching and getting more closely connected with my subjects. I am always keen on learning new ways of teaching.

I teach the following subjects:

This will be my first year of teaching history and philosophy. Therefore, I have used much time to gather what I already know about the ancient greeks and, where necessary, fill in the gaps.

So, now you know who I am. Now, I will try to explain the reasons for my blog and why I am here.

As a teacher I know that I have much knowledge in my subjects. This expertise I something that I want to share with you... whoever you are. You might, for instance, be interested in what I have to say about the history of Norway or the Nordic countries during, say, the middle ages? Or about social classes in Norway? Or you want to discuss some philosophical questions with me or my students?

So, my interests are many and I will gladly share with you, gentle reader.

What do I need?

I want to start my own PLN. I'm not quite certain if I have made the right start here, but hopefully somebody can help me and give me input on my many questions.

torsdag 16. juli 2015

Om stillhet

En av de tingene vi kanskje ikke reflekterer over så mye er at støy er en relativt ny "oppfinnelse." Mesteparten av historisk tid har foregått i det stille.

I boken The Year 1000 tar forfatteren opp nettopp dette faktum. Stort sett ville tilværelsen være preget av stillhet. De lydene folk hørte kom kanskje fra grensende fe eller fra smeden eller kirkeklokkene.

Dette står i kontrast med det vi idag opplever. Vi er kanskje det man kan kalle lydavhengige. Kanskje framveksten av lyd og støy er et av modernitetens fremste trekk?

mandag 20. oktober 2014

Tidsskift om middelalder i Norge

Her er endel lenker til det dere skal jobbe med. Disse lenkene har jeg funnet frem fra en rekke medier og instutitisjoner rundt om i inn- og utland. Mange av disse kildene kan dere bruke som en inngangsport til det videre arbeidet. Temaene for de forskjellige oppgavene er:

  • Stein, bein og tre. Om steinalderen og de første menneskene i Norge 
  • Jern, sverd og ære. Om Bronsealderen og jernalderen i Norge
  • Dragene fra nord” Om vikingenes plyndring, handel og bosetting.   
  • “Norge blir ett.” Om rikssamlingen.
    ”Fra åsatro til kvitekrist   
  • “Fiender blir venner og venner blir fiender. Om borgerkrigene i norsk historie”   
  • : ”Fra Grønland til Jemtland. Om Norges storhetstid”

 Vikingtid, rikssamling og kristing

torsdag 9. oktober 2014

Differensiert undervisning og iTunes U

I senere tid har jeg brukt masse tid på forelesninger fra iTunes U. Dette er et slags tillegg i iTunes hvor du kan laste ned foredrag i lyd-, film- og ofte i papirformat fra forskjellige universiteter og forskningsinstutisjoner rundt omkring i verden. For meg som var student for mange herrens år siden, har forelesningene vært en nyttig oppfriskning. De to kursene jeg har fulgt i den siste tiden er:
I tillegg til selve lyd- og filmopptaket finnes det også pdf-filer hvor du finner manus til de forskjellige forelesningene.

Jeg tenker at disse ressursene kan være nyttige komplement dersom du ønsker mer dybdekunnskap om forskjellige emner som vi jobber med i fagene. Det finnes et vell av ressurser for de aller fleste fag.

Mange radiokanaler har også programmer om historie og sosiale fenomener. På NRK har vi disse:
Danmarks radio har et program som heter alle tiders historie og sveriges radio har et som heter Vetenskapsradion historia. På BBC finner du mitt favorittprogram. Det heter "In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg." Dette er et program hvor du ikke bare får høre om bakgrunnen for de forskjellige teoriene som de behandler der, men du får også vite om det aller nyeste forskerne har funnet ut om dette temaet. Anbefales på det alller, alller, alller, aller aller sterkeste!

tirsdag 2. september 2014

Presentasjon sosiale system

Denne uka skal vi arbeide med sosiale systemer. I powerpointen presenterer jeg forskjellige trekk ved et sosialt system som sosiologer benytter når de skal analysere dem.

Et interessant spørsmål, som har mange implikasjoner, er om kommunikasjon på interenett kan ansees som deltakelse i et sosialt system. I alle sosiale system foregår det kommunikasjon mellom medlemmene, og avvik straffes med forskjellige typer sanksjoner.

Den siste trenden jeg har merket meg, er at facebook i større og større grad, har utviklet seg til å bli et slags opplysningskontor. Folk legger gjerne ut ting der som har til hensikt å informere folk innenfor det nettverket som den enkelte har. Dette gjelder naturligvis vanlige nyhetssaker, og nyhetssaker som har en større relevans.

I tillegg synes jeg også at det er en utvikling mot en større grad av moralisering som foregår på nettet. Mange har satt seg det fore å opplyse de andre om farene med f.eks. alkohol og forskjellige rusmidler. Hvor kommer dette behovet fra? Er det behov for det?

Ikke for den generasjonen som jeg underviser for tiden i alle fall.