Blog: Why I never memorized my multiplication tables in 4th grade

Christine Alfery

Posted on April 02 2018

Blog: Why I never memorized my multiplication tables in 4th grade


Foundations that are built on “wild things” are foundations built on intuition, discovery and exploring. It is when an artist searches into these wild things that the self emerges. If self asks during the search how should I react to this, how would others react to this – then there is no self, but if self asks during these moments how would I naturally want to respond in these moments, how can I personally, experience the “wild things” then the artist is truly working on discovering self.

Let me illustrate: for the longest time – and in fact right up to the early 2000s when I was in graduate school I would ask myself in regards to getting a good grade, how does the educator think, how do they want me to think?

I figured I was more than likely to get a good grade if I agreed with the educator rather than present a contrary opinion to the way the educator was thinking. I realize now that because the educator was teaching not how to think but rather teaching how to think in a way, that was a huge mistake. I had lost that independent spirit I once had where I refused to learn my multiplication tables in 4th grade because it made no sense to me to memorize the tables when I could figure out the answers with addition and subtraction and with know my 2’s and 5 times. I refused to learn them even with the threat of not passing 4th grade. Where in the world did that independent spirit disappear to when I was in college and graduate school. Never did I ask but what is the contrary opinion when I sat in the classroom just listening not participating. In graduate school the discussions in the seminars where never dialectic, that is finding the truth in opinions, they were rather ideologic. For example, the educator never said; “this is what I believe the truth is and this is the truth I want you to learn,” but that was really what I believed they were saying. I believed they held the truth and I needed to figure out now to understand and find the truth. Not thinking, this is their truth, and not my truth. And when I did gather the courage to ask a question or make a statement I was frequently challenged with, Christine why do you have to be so different, so difficult so disagreeable. When I told them, I was just asking a question and wanted to know how they all though about something – that always concluded that I was on the “other” side. I could never have been on the other side, because I didn’t understand my own side, let alone their side. I remember sitting in a seminar and having one grad student say to the group when I suggested we read a author because I was curious as to what their perspective was, “we don’t want to read them, they don’t agree with us.” I found I was asking myself – what is the belief that the “us” in this room believe? I honestly didn’t understand – and I was in grad school and still didn’t understand what their truth was other than it didn’t feel right to me. So, I dug deep while I was there and began to research philosophy from the get go: Plato, Aristotle – up to present day post-modernism with Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, Rorty, Jameson, Vattimo, Baudrillard and more.

What I discovered later after I left grad school that; the discussions were based on power and where the power was, who had the power

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