Directions (1-10): Read the following passage carefully and choose the best answer to each question out of the four given alternatives.
To teach is to create a space in which obedience to truth is practiced. Space may sound like a vague, poetic metaphor until we realize that it describes experiences of everyday life. We know what it means to be in a green and open field; we know what it means to be on a crowded rush hour bus. These experiences of physical space have parallels in our relations with others. On our jobs, we know what it is to be pressed and crowded, our working space diminished by the urgency of deadlines and competitiveness of colleagues.
But then there are times when deadlines disappear and colleagues cooperate, when everyone has space to move, invent and produce with energy and enthusiasm. With family and friends, we know how it feels to have unreasonable demands placed upon us, to be boxed in the expectations of those nearest to us. But then there are times when we feel accepted for who we are (or forgiven for who we are not), times when a spouse or a child or a friend gives us the space both to be and to become.
Similar experiences of crowding and space are found in education. To sit in a class where the teacher stuffs our minds with information, organizes it with finality, insists on having the answer while being utterly uninterested in our views, and forces us into a grim competition for grades-to sit in such a class is to experience a lack of space for learning. But to study with a teacher who not only speaks but also listens, who not only gives answers but asks questions and welcomes our insights, who provides information and theories that do not close doors but open new ones, who encourages students to help each other learn-to study with such a teacher is to know the power of a learning space.
A learning space has three essential dimensions: openness, boundaries and an air of hospitality. To create open learning space is to remove the impediments to learning that we find around and within us: we often create them ourselves to evade the challenge of truth and transformation. One source of such impediments is our fear of appearing ignorant to others or to ourselves. The openness of a space is created by the firmness of its boundaries. A learning space cannot extend indefinitely; if it did, it would not be a structure for learning but an invitation for confusion and chaos. When space boundaries are violated, the quality of space suffers. The teacher who wants to create an open learning space must define and defend its boundaries with care, because the pursuit of truth can often be painful and discomforting, the learning space must be hospitable. Hospitality means receiving each other, our struggles, our new-born ideas with openness and care. It means creating an ethos in which the community of truth can form and the pain of its transformation be borne. A learning space needs to be hospitable not to make learning painless, but to make painful things possible, things without which no learning can occur-things like exposing ignorance, testing tentative hypotheses, challenging false or partial information, and mutual criticism of thought.
The task of creating learning space with qualities of openness, boundaries and hospitality can be approached at several levels. The most basic level is the physical arrangement of the classroom. Consider the traditional classroom setting with row upon row of chairs facing the lectern where learning space is confined to the narrow alley of attention between each student and teacher. In this space, there is no community of truth, hospitality or room for students to relate to the thoughts of each other. Contrast it with the chairs placed in a circular arrangement, creating an open space within which learners can interconnect. At another level, the teacher can create conceptual space-with words, in two ways. One is through assigned reading; the other is through lecturing. Assigned reading, not in the form of speed reading several hundred pages, but contemplative reading which opens, not fills, our learning space. A teacher can also create a learning space by means of lectures. By providing critical information and a framework of interpretation a lecturer can lay down the boundaries within which learning occurs.
We also create learning space through the kind of speech we utter and the silence from which true speech emanates. Speech is a precious gift and a vital tool, but often our speaking is an evasion of truth, a way of buttressing our self-serving reconstructions of reality. Silence must therefore be an integral part of learning space. In silence, more than in arguments, our mind-made world falls away and must also create emotional space in the classroom, space that allow feeling to arise and be dealt with because submerged feelings can undermine learning. In an emotionally honest learning space, one created by a teacher who does not fear dealing with feelings, the community of truth can flourish between us and we can flourish in it.
Q1. Which of the following statements best describes the author’s conception of learning space?
(a) Where the teacher is friendly.
(b) Where these is no grim competition for grades.
(c) Where the students are encouraged to learn about space.
(d) Where the teacher provides information and theories which open new doors and encourages students to help each other learn.
Q2. The statements ‘the openness of a space is created by the firmness of its boundaries’ appears contradictory.
Which of the following statements provides the best justification for the proposition?
(a) We cannot have a space without boundaries.
(b) Bounded space is highly structured.
(c) When space boundaries are violated, the quality of space suffers.
(d) A teacher can effectively defend a learning space without boundaries.
Q3. According to the author, learning is a painful process because:
(a) It exposes our ignorance.
(b) Our views and hypotheses are challenged.
(c) It involves criticizing the views of others.
(d) Of all of the above reasons.
Q4. The task of creating learning space with qualities of openness, boundaries and hospitality is multidimensional. It involves operating at:
(a) Psychological and conceptual levels.
(b) Physical, perceptual and behavioral levels.
(c) Physical, conceptual and emotional levels.
(d) Conceptual, verbal and sensitive levels.
Q5. According to the author, silence must be an integral part of learning space because:
(a) Silence helps to unite us with others to create a community of truth.
(b) Silent contemplation prepares us to construct our mind-made world.
(c) Speaking is too often an exercise in the evasion of truth.
(d) None of the above
Q6. According to the author, an effective teacher does not allow
(a) feelings to arise within the learning space.
(b) silence to become an integral part of the learning space.
(c) learning space to be filled by speed reading of several hundred pages of assigned reading.
(d) violation of learning space boundaries.
Q7. Understanding the notion of space in our relations with others is:
(a) To acknowledge the beauty of poetic metaphor.
(b) Exclusively rooted in our experiences of physical space.
(c) To accept a spiritual dimension in our dealings with our peers.
(d) To extend the parallel of physical space to our experiences in daily life.
Q8. Another way of describing the author’s notion of learning space can be summarized in the following manner.
(a) It is vital that learning be accompanied by unlearning.
(b) Learning encompasses such elements as courage and dignity only
(c) An effective teacher recognizes the value of empathy.
(d) Encourage good learners, discourage indifferent ones.
Q9. Conceptual space with words can be created by
(a) Assigned reading and lecturing.
(b) Speed reading and written comprehension.
(c) Gentle persuasion and deliberate action.
(d) creative extrapolation and illustrations.
Q10. An emotionally honest learning space can only be created by:
(a) A teacher committed to join the community.
(b) A teacher who is not afraid of confronting feelings.
(c) A teacher who takes care not to undermine the learning process.
(d) A teacher who worships critical silence.
Sol. Where the teacher provides information and theories which open new doors and encourages students to help each other learn.
Sol. When space boundaries are violated, the quality of space suffers.
Sol. It involves criticizing the views of others.
Sol. Physical, conceptual and emotional levels.
Sol. Silence helps to unite us with others to create a community of truth.
Sol. learning space to be filled by speed reading of several hundred pages of assigned reading.
Sol. To extend the parallel of physical space to our experiences in daily life.
Sol. An effective teacher recognizes the value of empathy.
Sol. Assigned reading and lecturing.
Sol. A teacher who is not afraid of confronting feelings.