Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

"And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'" -Genesis 2:16

"That was the birth of sin. Not doing it, but KNOWING about it. Before the apple, [Adam and Eve] had shut their eyes and their minds had gone dark. Now, they peeped and pried and imagined. They watched themselves." -D.H. Lawrence

Adam and Eve were tempted not by the Tree of Life, but by the Tree of Knowledge. Their desire to taste the "forbidden fruit" of this tree resulted in expulsion from Paradise.

Satan/Lucifer declared it "Better to reign in hell than serve in heav'n." (John Milton, Paradise Lost).

Another "light-bearer", Prometheus, risked the ire of Zeus to bring the secret of kindling fire to mortals - and suffered daily torment as a punishment.

The mythologies of many cultures warn men of the consequences of seeking to know that which is hidden or forbidden. Does the greater danger lie in recognizing evil or in being unaware of its existence?

Should we be innocent or armed?

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Uploaded on February 13, 2007 by Lawrence OP


Ken Rodoff said...

Should we be innocent or armed?

Well, Prometheus wasn't innocent. Bringing light to mortals is subject to marvelous interpretation. Altruism or Usurpism - pick one (although I don't think 'usurpism' is a word).

I like Ayn Rand's 'Prometheus' - selfish and driven by 'ego'. In her vision, we need to be armed. And in her words, Prometheus is the voice for the spirited souls that need freeing.

I'm not a Bible soul (something about a Bar Mitzvah back in the 80's solidified this), but your question, "does the great danger lie in recognizing evil or in being unaware---

Stop. You're a librarian, right? Then doesn't it seem incumbent upon you to fight ignorance? Shouldn't you be armed for intellectual battles?

If we keep our students unaware, what do they really learn? If we want them to be digitally literate, make informed decisions about information sources, then we surely can not attempt to shield them from the 'evils' of the world. We must arm them for the information landscape.

Perhaps this seems like a ramble, but I am thinking about schools that block access to blogs, wikis, etc...

Are these schools preparing their students for college and beyond? Are these school empowering students with the skill sets needed to make informed decisions? Are these school promoting intellectual curiosity and discernment?

Nope. Nope. And nope.

Librarian = Prometheus.

Just make sure you beg forgiveness when the G-ds (read: network administrators) chain you to a rock.

Peck, peck. Later, liver.

diane said...

Funny you should mention blocking access...this whole diatribe is the result of a conversation I had with a student today.

She's articulate and loves to write, so I showed her some student blogs and offered to help her start her own blog. Students are not allowed to have email accounts at our school, and her parents won't let her use email at home (but they let their 8th grade daughter date a high school junior!). I told her to have them contact me so I could emphasize the benefits of blogging for an aspiring writer.

I'm not sure what "evils" they think email will foster, but they're denying their daughter a chance to express her thoughts and connect with the world.

Yes, I'm a librarian and, believe it or not, we're frequently on the front lines battling for First Amendment rights. Shush indeed!

ken said...

then you know joyce valenza, eh? She and I work together @ Springfield HS.

you can have that parent call me as well.

Dillon said...

"Does the greater danger lie in recognizing evil or in being unaware of its existence?

Should we be innocent or armed?"

Recognizing evil is not a danger other than if taking overly radically instilling terror and tyranny. In fact the knowledge itself can be the best preventive measure to such happenings.

Being unaware of evil's existence and turning a blind eye, as Benjamin learned the hard way leads to disaster. Or rather, leads to the possibility of disaster.

Quoting Pat Benatar's song "Invincible"

"We can't afford to be innocent."

You should be armed and ready, but at the same time hostilities should not arise unprovoked.

Blogs, like mine, have many stakeholders involved. The parents of the student, as mentioned, herself, and any affiliations or connections that it might take. My advice: petition.

I recently have gone through a series of steps to work with the district to allow clubs to have websites embedded in the homepage. I got the rule that it can pass, on all administrative levels.

Sometimes it might surprise you how easy it is to get a solution with people if you say you're willing to work collaboratively with them. The keys can be turned to unlock the door that's been locked and bolted if you take the path of least resistance.

Say you're with them, not against them. Don't let beliefs like this get in the way of progress, if there is no unity between all stakeholders, was there ever a victory a battle valiantly fought?

I think not, as that means the war rages strongly with flames. I don't know much about the situation admittedly, but you know my blog already. Perhaps sharing student example blogs would help your case.

To her parents, that is, as ultimately it will come to their decision at this point it seems. I would advise a move for a change in your school, if not district's acceptable web usage policy... Death to communication should not be within the fine print.

If anyone's interested in a less diluted version of anything I said, or help on such a matter. Check the previous link, or just drop me an E-Mail. I'm always willing to help in these kinds of situations...

Or just have a good debate.

The Zar and Gorbechev both know just how well a dictatorship runs however... When the people are displeased. Prometheus, I think not... More like Castro or Ze Dung... Or Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison.

There's only so much people can take till they must stand up. If no one ever stands up and speaks, how per say will topics like this ever be an issue if they're never allowed to be known? Speak up, it's a right.

That likely was the biggest ramble here, but I digress. Language Arts is not my... Forte.

diane said...


Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I am gathering (a task beloved of librarians!) information and examples to plead, not my case, but my students' cause.

As the aforementioned Joyce Valenza continuously reminds us, the emphasis HAS to be on the learner, on how the technology will benefit the student and advance his/her education.

I think there's a compelling body of evidence that blogging, email, and a variety of collaborative tools can and should have a positive impact on student outcomes.

It's my responsibility to bring this information to the attention of my superintendent and Board of Education. They will ultimately do what they judge to be in our students' best interests.


Dillon said...

That is all one can do. I have one more piece of advice for this however:

Invite student allies. As many as willing to join as possible, and you'd be allowed to bring.

The experience will be enriching and powerful to the students, the administrators, and yourself. Believe me.

That... And it'll make the message that sends all that much more powerful.

You're welcome for the comment, but after reading the statement and figuring out what it meant. I only could guess what the subject was, and reading the comments I couldn't sit idly and not comment.

I feel it's my duty to post and share my voice, most likely because it reminds me of some of my past involvements.

Anyways, have a goodnight. I'm gonna try and keep up with your blog, I like what I've seen so far.