Wonderful ways of knowing

By Jennifer Cador

If there’s one thing Connie Morey has learned from her own life experience, it’s that there is more than one way of knowing. The Ontario-born mother of two is right at home with the idea of multiple truths co-existing. This is partly, she says, because of her cross-cultural marriage which has allowed her to look at life from a non-Western standpoint and partly because of motherhood itself.

Morey has been awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Silver Medal (for excellence in a non-thesis master’s program) for her master’s in art education program on the role of wonder in the learning process. Her passion shines through as she explains that wonder is a natural catalyst for learning—it makes kids want to know—but it doesn’t lend itself to tidy, fixed answers.

“It’s not about measurement. It’s a way of understanding or exploring the world in a way that is not reductive,” she says. “It doesn’t reduce a whole body of knowledge into one single conclusion or logical ‘right answer.’ It opens up possibility.”

Admittedly, such an approach can be scary because it rejects simplistic solutions and instead embraces complexity. But having lived in her husband’s homeland of Malaysia in the past, Morey says she has seen how Western concepts of logic and evidence-based learning are often at odds with Indigenous knowledge systems.

“A shaman or practitioner of traditional medicine has a completely different way of looking at the world but it is still important.”

In Morey’s view, there is value in every knowledge system. In order for children to learn how to think, they need to be allowed to pursue the diverse paths that wonder opens up for them.

Her supervisor, Dr. Robert Dalton, says he has rarely seen work so compelling.“She makes a convincing case for curiosity, raising questions, allowing for multiple and even contradictory explanations and other aspects of learning that run counter to the predetermined outcomes and high stakes testing that rule our system.”

Morey’s personal path is leading her in exciting new directions where she hopes to put her research into practice. She has just accepted a job as a Grade-2 teacher at an international school in Malaysia, which means that while her husband finishes up his PhD at UVic, Morey will be busy packing boxes in preparation for the move. It also means a future of fostering a lively and inquisitive sense of wonder in the next generation.

   
 
 
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