I am currently a nomad, bibliographically. My family and I moved half way across North Carolina, landed in an apartment, and put the lion’s share of my books in storage. I am, needless to say, a man without his references. Thus, while I would love to quote others a lot when talking about the power of comparison, for now I am going to have to go without. My books are not available to me. But this handicap in no way drains any of the power from questions of comparison. Is we think about the power of questions, one of the greatest things we can do in our questioning of students is to ask questions that bring their minds to contemplate two things that are similar and yet different.
Comparison brings wisdom to the student by asking them to find the good, true, and beautiful in two things, not just one. Often one thing is better known than the other (hence part of the power) but both are contemplated anew and both rise to a higher level in our understanding. When discussing Socratic questioning with teachers, this Topic appears perhaps the most natural. Our minds are constantly seeking to compare the new with the known. A great teacher loves this inclination and runs with it.
Should I try to illustrate this point? What would the benefits of using one of my own stories be with that of one totally made up? Would the reader even know the difference? Should I ask these kinds of questions in my blog or just in my mind? I am not sure if this even needs illustrating as it is so common and natural to how we think.
Upon the completion of acting out the story of Oedipus Rex, my seventh grade students spent about an hour fighting (I guess the proper term would be debating, but it was a fight) over whether Achilles (whom we read about in the unit before in The Illiad) or Oedipus had more likeness to Christ. Parents were a little fussy that either man would be compared with our Lord, but it was clear from the hour’s discussion that when every inch of the white board was full, our understanding of both men and our Lord had increased. This is but one example of this power called Comparison.
Now, let’s compare my last two paragraphs. Did your mind contemplate comparison more by reading my questions in the first paragraph, or by reading the example (the model) set forth in the second? Or are both these paragraphs made even more useful, contemplative, by the questions I have asked in this last paragraph? Do you think I could continue this demented line of thinking much longer before you log off this blog never to return?