Monday, November 7, 2011


I think I've always been interested in learning, but I've never realized how I hinder myself until now.

While I don't necessarily think it's bad hindering, I've come to realize that while I absorb a majority of the information I hear, read, practice, etc., I do not necessarily accept or agree with all of it as fact. I've often wondered why I am a Literature major. It was not my first choice, but one of necessity and frustration with the bureaucracy of my home university. It's unfair for me to say that the relationship I have with my major is one of hate; there's some love (somewhere) in there, too.

But back to what I started writing about: Hinderances.

When I was in highschool, I was asked to read 1984 by George Orwell, and that novel scared the living shit out of me. Ever since then, I cannot bring myself to just accept information indifferently. I do my own research and question what I learn. With that said, I get frustrated when readings expect the audience to just accept what it has been told.

When I try to read academic texts for homework, I can't help but stop at biased sounding words. I hate when a scholar makes a statement and does not back it up with statistical information--although that's pretty biased as well--or some sort of primary research. Hypocritically, I will not give an example of this because I'm absolutely terrified of being accused of plagarism. (But that's a rant for another day when I have something to drink and some food to snack on in the middle of a typhoon.) Yet, I can say that words like, "many," "a few," and "some" do not necessarily carry the weight of an actual numerical value or measurement. If you say 75 out of 10 people like carrots over onions, then I will understand many, or 5 out of 110 a few, etc. While these vague expressions of value are easy for the reader to comprehend, I view it as lazy research, and it completely turns me off form an interesting essay. It bothers me that professional writers and researchers would use these terms when resources and research are available as back up.

About seven times out of ten, I find myself arguing with my homework. I grumble, I mark nasty things in paper, and grit my teeth the rest of the way through the reading. I can't say this never happened at home, but perhaps it's because the classes I'm taking are about culture. Bias is a difficult thing to take out of a paper, but I was taught that a good paper lacks bias. (Unless, of course, the author is aiming to persuade the audience with a biased essay--which my homework is not--then that's okay.)

Of course, I argue with myself as well. The homework that makes me so irritated is homework for the Intercultural Communication and Psychology course as well as the class for Japanese Culture. Both are taught in English with a mixture of exchange students and Japanese students. Both classes focus on discussion and controversial topics where Western and Eastern culture may collide.

Is it possible to take bias out of such classrooms?

My initial answer to this question is, "No, of course not," but there is part of me that wants to say, "Why can't we say, 'Yes?'"

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