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Learning Through Ways of Knowing

Lily Katz
Honors 205

College is nothing like what I expected it to be. The transition has been shocking and
difficult, and I still dont feel quite at home here in the buzzing atmosphere of a large
university campus. Coming from a small, tight-knit, remote island with few academic
choices to a fast-paced urban university with too many was rattling. In the blink of an eye,
my life went from calm to crazy. Where I come from, going into Seattle once every couple of
weeks is a big deal. Now, I live in that lively other world that I was only able to access
occasionally during my childhood.
It is difficult to describe how I imagined college life would be at the UW. I always
pictured the same imagea cafeteria with a mysterious, dark blue aura, and the Blue
Scholars always playing in the background. This image was almost like a music video
playing in my head. It represented how cool I thought the UW was. When I thought about
academics, I imagined myself in a massive lecture hall, and walking home alone after class
in a pleasant, chilling rain. Despite the size and population of the university, for some
reason, I always imagined myself unaccompanied and independent.
Yet, life at the UW is very different from that picture. I am rarely alone, and I have
not yet encountered this dark blue aura that I had pictured. Nor have I heard a Blue
Scholars soundtrack playing in the background of my consciousness as Im walking down
the Ave or sitting in a cafeteria. Walking for miles in the rain is also much less pleasant than
I had expected. On the upside, I havent yet attended a lecture with more than 150 students.
Although my experience here so far has not been as picture perfect as I had
imagined, the dramatic change of placemoving herethat hit me so suddenly last
August, has informed my life in many positive ways. This indigenous change catalyzed
many others changes in my life, which is why Ive come to believe that indigenous ways of
knowing, at least through the lens of thinking about the college transition, have provoked
all of the other changes that Ive experienced so far most significantly.

Change is wild. It throws you for a loop. It forces you to think and learn in new ways.
More specifically, it causes you to learn about how you think, and think about how you
learn. Moving to this new place, and taking this class on ways of knowing, has taught me
three main things about how I learn best. First, I learn best in a small, discussion-based
setting. Second, I learn well through inquiry and asking questions. And lastly, I learn
through mistakes and mishaps.
There is a basic set of skills that one needs to succeed in the classroomlistening,
reading, writing, inquiring, understanding, sharing, and participating in group dialogue. Its
much easier to gain these skills in a small, discussion-based classroom. Its also much easier
to enjoy and engage oneself in academics in this type of environment.
In spirit of my most recent video assignment for Honors 205, if theres one thing Im
thankful for, its getting an acceptance letter from the Honors Program. It has allowed me to
take small classes like
What We Know and How We Know It and to significantly build up

a basic set of learning skills, which I know will help me in college and after I have
graduated.
The one skill that I am particularly happy about learning in Honors 205 is the skill of
inquiry. Inquiry is what helped me achieve my main goalfiguring out what I want to
study. Frances teaching style and Dreaming Richard Hugo have all caused me to realize
how important it is to ask questions. Frances likes to ask questions. She prompts students
to inquire, which puts them on the right track to finding the answer. Frances piece,
Dreaming Richard Hugo, showed me how she was able to pursue her interest and
accomplish a piece of writing by exploring and asking questions.
Asking questions produces answers, sometimes in ways that you least expect. If I
hadnt asked my Husky mentor how to get involved with journalism, I wouldnt have
known about Daily 101. If I hadnt gotten accepted into Daily 101, I wouldnt have been
offered a job at the Daily. If I hadnt gotten involved with journalism in college, I wouldnt
have developed the interview skills to make my film on medical ethics and religion for
Honors 205. All of these opportunities stemmed from inquiry, and they all contributed to
the realization that I want to major in journalism. Its what I like and its what Im good at,

and inquiry is the foundation of that field. If I hadnt learned to be bold and ask questions, I
wouldnt have achieved this goal.
Although Ive finally discovered that writing is my calling, the road to this awareness
has not been a smooth one. It has been full of mistakes and mishaps. One day in class, as we
were doing a free-writing exercise where we had to analyze our writing assignments thus
far, I realized a particularly unfortunate mishap that had occurred in my life. I had become
much less creative than I used to be, especially in my writing. My writing had lost its spark
and thoughtfulness. It had become objective and dull as I catered to College Board and AP
standards.
What also damped my enthusiasm for writing were the seemingly endless lists of
rules that my high school teachers imposed on writing assignments. Literally, multiple
pages of requirements about what to do, what not to do, what to include, and what not
includethis was the irony. On the one hand, my teachers embraced a Socratic method in
the classroom. But they were very rigid when it came to writing assignments, which I
always thought was unfortunate because I felt it constrained my spirit as a writer and my
ability to really think things through for myself.
I used to write wild stories that didnt follow any particular structure or format.
Now, even in reflections about myself where I have been given a lot of leeway, I analyze. I
care more about nitpicky grammar than I do about making my writing interesting and
beautiful. Behind this analytical, subjective mask hides a creative, pensive, philosophical,
and kinesthetic self who is begging to be let out and explore. One goal that I would like to
achieve is to regain this creativity in my writing, so I can be a better journalist. This is what
Frances class has done for meallowed me to try to open up again.
Mistakes and mishaps can lead you to unexpected places, which might be where you
were supposed to be all along. They can also help you recognize your faults, and what you
need to improve on. Life is a series of events, many of which happen to be mistakes and
mishaps, that inform what you do and how you do it. I could view signing my name on that
sheet of paper that read Husky Mentor Sign-Up as a mishap. It provoked a series of events
that is now defining my future, and what Im going to do with my life.

Although Ive been told all my life that I should learn through mistakes, I never
really took that advice to heart. Now that I have had experiences and heard stories where
this advice has worked, I will not feel despair when I make mistakes or experience mishaps.
I will see it as an opportunity to learn about myself.
My experiences during these last few months have filled my mind with new
knowledge and insights about myself, and about the ways I learn. The indigenous change of
moving from a small island to a big city has caused many changes involving the other five
ways of knowing. Moving to Seattle has caused a literary change in the ways I think about
my writing, and the things that I write about.
I also experienced a religious conversion, of sorts, when I took a comparative religion class
at the UW. Its not that I embraced any particular religion. I realize now that the conversion
was becoming much more open-minded toward religions in general and other points of
view.
Taking Honors 205 has ignited my curiosity about all of the ways of knowing, but
specifically scientific and ethical ways of knowing, because I didnt have much previous
knowledge in regards to these subjects.
Learning about all of these ways of knowing has spurred a philosophical change in the way
that I think, because it has made me realize that there is much more to life than whatever
youre currently focusing on. I now understand the value of taking a step back and
assessing things with a wider lens. True knowledge is attained through interdisciplinary
learninga combination of all of the different ways of knowing. So far, I have only learned
about six.
Its been a challenging first few months at the UW, but Im excited about the doorway that
has opened to explore other ways of knowing and discovering.