Link to What's New This Week Using Tables for Note Taking

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Created: August 4, 2003
Latest Update: August 4, 2003
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Index of Topics on Site Using Tables for Note Taking

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, August 2003.
"Fair use" encouraged.

A Paragraph:

Piper explains, on p. 87, why we cling to our most cherished beliefs:

"Doubt entails self-examination because a check on the plausibility of your beliefs and attitudes is a check on all the constitutents of the slef. Explanations of why your falsely supposed "X" includes your motives for believing "X" (your desire to maintain a relationship, your impulse to be charitable, your goal of becoming a better person); the causes of your believing "X" (your early training, your having drunk too much, your innate disposition to to optimism); and your objective reasons for believing "X" (it's consistent with your other beliefs, it explains the most data, it's inductively confirmed, people you respect believe it). . . ."

Adrian Piper, Ideology, Confrontation, and Political Self-Awareness. At p. 87 in The Citizen Artist, The Critical Press, 1998. ISBN: 1883831-10-5

Now, that sounds a little different from our traditional sociological explanations, doesn't it? But notice how much easier it is to read and take notes, when you compile the information into a table like that below. You don't have to get fancy. When there's lots of information, crammed all together into a long and unforgiving paragraph, see if you can't break it into levels, as I did here. Notes like this will make the material much easier to study, if you've got to commit some or all of the information to memory. It will also make it easier to find things quickly in an open-book test, Heaven forfend.

The Notes Taken:

    Motives for believing:

    • "your desire to maintain a relationship"
    • "your impulse to be charitable"
    • "your goal of becoming a better person"

    Causes for believing:

    • "your early training"
    • "your having drunk too much"
    • "your innate disposition to optimism"

    Objective reasons for believing"

    • "it's consistent with your other beliefs"
    • "it explains the most data"
    • "it's inductively confirmed"
    • "people you respect believe it"

By the way, moving some of the information into titles, and some into sub-groups is a very simple practical example of Ausubel's advance organizer. Ausubel insisted that pulling out organizers and highlighting them would make learning more effective. Does it work for you? If so, don't forget to use it in your note taking.

Discussion Questions

    Another Paragraph:

  1. Here is one of Adrian Piper's concluding paragraphs about our denial of that which contradicts our beliefs, wherever we got them from and for whatever reasons:
    "The result is blindness to the genuine needs of other people, coupled with the arrogant and dangerous conviction that you understand those needs better than they do; and a consequent inability to respond to those needs politically in genuinely effective ways.

    The antidote, I suggest, is confrontation of the sinner with the evidence of the sin; the rationalizations; the subconscious defense mechanisms; the strategies of avoidance, denial, dismissal and withdrawal that signal, on the one hand, the retreat of the self to the protective enclave of ideology, on the other hand, precisely the proof of subjectivity and fallibility that the ideologue is so anxious to ignore.

    The success of the antidote increases with the specificity of the confrontation. . . . "

    Adrian Piper, Ideology, Confrontation, and Political Self-Awareness. At p. 91 in The Citizen Artist, The Critical Press, 1998. ISBN: 1883831-10-5

    Your Table of Note Taking:

    Create a table for your notes on this paragraph.

    • Consider the following: Piper speaks of the harm that comes of our denial of what contradicts our beliefs. She spaks of the antidote. And she speaks of the specificity of the antidote.e

    • Within the discussion of harm she speaks of arrogance, of danger, and of inability.

    • Within the discussion of antidote she speaks of confrontation with: evidence, rationalizations, subconscious defense mechanisms, strategies of avoidance, denial, withdrawal.

    • Within the discussion of the success of the antidote she speaks of the importance of specificity.

      Notice that using sentences for notes is not as clear to review as a table.