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Patterns In Women's Ways Of Knowing

By Author: Adelaide.White
Total Articles: 41

The instructive title of Belenky et al.'s volume, Women's Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind makes clear that this is more than a discussion of intellectual development. Indeed, a major contribution of this volume is its joint emphasis on all three domains; for example, the Tag Heuer Replica Watches authors described cognitive development as "dependent on the evolution of identity (self); the interrelationship of the self with others (voice); and the understanding of truth and knowledge (mind) as defined by the self". This integration of elements brings depth to Perry's observation that one finds identity through one's commitments.

This volume was inspired by Perry's work on epistemological development, the authors' interest in addressing the problem of the absence of women's voices in psychological research (Gilligan, 1979), and their interest in gender-related patterns of development, such as those observed by Gilligan. This book is based on a phenomenological study of 135 women (90 who were students from nine diverse academic institutions and 45 who were served by family agencies), whose personal (and sometimes heartrending) stories illuminated the identification of five "epistemological perspectives from which women know and view the world". These are: silence, received knowing, subjective knowing, procedural knowing, and constructed knowing; they are similar to the first five positions in Perry's scheme, but also hold important differences. (I use the more active "knowing" rather than the original "knowledge" in these labels in light of the authors' preference for this change one of these differences is that by naming and exemplifying the position of silence that precedes the epistemological positions, Belenky et al. provided empirical support for Perry's theoretically derived Position 1. The procedural way of knowing is descriptively rich and particularly relevant to Omega Replica Watches college students. In another departure from Perry's (1970) scheme, these authors identified two types of procedural knowing, separate and connected. In separate knowing, one critically examines and critiques knowledge claims, and looks for alternative explanations. In connected knowing, one tries to "get inside the head" of the author to better understand the basis for the argument by understanding it from the inside rather than from the outside. Both approaches are valuable and called for in different situations.

The most advanced epistemological position in this model is constructed knowing, in which self, mind, and voice (the knower, the known, and how one communicates the known) are integrated. Processes of knowing and knowledge construction are explicit, and ambiguity, differences of opinion, and contradictions are seen as a predictable part of the process. Context is seen as relevant and important information in understanding, and constructed learners take this into account as they move easily between connected and separate ways of knowing. This way of knowing is much more consistent with higher order collegiate learning goals than are any of the earlier ways of knowing.

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