Page 119 of Andrew Sayer’s ‘Realism and Social Science’ begins with “The ever increasing distance between cause and effect in so many aspects of human activity increases the obstacles to the recognition of its social and ecological implications.”
So supermarkets, cities, schools, roads, office blocks, are taking us further and further away from our understanding of how it all works? Does that mean that we have to ‘tear down the walls that hold us inside?” (U2) and start growing our own vegetables, teach under trees, and walk on rocky pathways to work? Is the very structure of our ‘world’ causing this ‘ever increasing distance between cause and effect?’
I remember going to visit the Southern Cross school in Hoedspruit and expecting to see a different way of teaching and ‘schooling’ kids. The school is built on the premise that everything is taught through ‘nature’. The ‘environment/nature’ is the foundation and text on which, and through, which all subjects (learning areas) are taught. So, for example, a mathematics lesson might take place under a tree (for shade) and the learners/kids/students/children would be asked to count, multiple, add, and divide the leaves and boughs of the tree.
[“…O chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer, are you the leaf, the blossom, or the bole.
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance. How can you tell the dancer from the dance?..” WB Yeats]
They, or another class, may also ‘study’ the tree and outline the shapes of the leaves, the length of their veins, the colour of their branches.
But the school was still a school and looked like a school. Does the shape and structure of the building itself create distance? Afterall the kids still had to leave a ‘classroom’ and walk to the tree? Isn’t there always distance between cause and effect, or are we …
Sayer is not saying we caused the distance, but that it is ‘ever increasing’
Ok, but still don’t understand are we causing the ‘ever increasing’ distance? Did we create it? What started it? How do we reduce it? Where do the obstacles come from? How do we turn it round and increase the recognition of the implications of human activities on society and ecology?
I’m crossing over to another page to write a paragraph on earthworms.]