A lot of times, learning happens when we make connections between things that we hadn’t connected before. Seeing one thing in relation to something else puts a new perspective on one or both of those things, and the result can be a new insight or new understanding.
Having learned all this stuff about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s gives me new insight into the cultural and political situations that we are in today. There is an unbroken string of connections between the conditions and events then and the conditions and events today. Although today is very different from the past, today is intimately and intricately connected to the past. An example would be voter registration and voting rights. African-Americans fought hard for voting rights in the 1960’s, and they had suffered for decades with the injustices related to voter registration. Those conditions have changed and are no longer pressing today. But, when state governments impose requirements such as photo ID, it touches a nerve with people who fought that fight 50 years ago. Today’s legislative efforts may have nothing to do with race or racism, but those who fought racist voter registration restrictions do not easily see it that way. Their reactions to today’s legislation are connected, deeply, to their past experiences. Someone who lacks those connections sees things differently. If I can make connections, I can usually gain new insights.
Here is a little puzzle/exercise in connections. Pretend these three glasses are three posts that can be located at positions around a deep hole. The knives represent three boards that are shorter than the diameter of the hole. Using only these three glasses and the three knives, find a way to support the fourth glass over the hole.
If you’d like to see a visual solution to the puzzle, look in the “About” section of this blog. No cheating! Solve it first, then take a look to see if your solution is the same as mine.