We are working with scholars with different first languages to examine words in their first language that are translated as ‘learn.’ The meanings of ‘learn’ is understood to arise in complex webs of association, which are distinct in each language. Following a core tenant of conceptual metaphor theory, these language-specific structures of association are reflected in teaching practices and educational emphases. For instance, the etymological English and German meaning of learn ‘to track’ is very consistent with the Attainment Metaphor. The French and Spanish words for learn, mean ‘to take’, are consistent with the Acquisition Metaphor. Both of these metaphors are enacted in Standardized Education. As we continue to examine more meanings, we will gain more insights into educational practices and emphases.
I came across this beautiful etymology of cogitare, by the philosopher Michel Serres, which we all know, from Descartes, means to think. Since Krista and Brent are working on round-the-world meanings of learning, I thought they might enjoy thinking about how learning relates to thinking, at least from an etymological perspective. So, in ancient greek, there are two root words of relevance:
-ag* means to drive, which is what a herder would be doing with his multitude of cattle—each different one from the other, with some running ahead and other being obstinate while still others being sick or pregnant.
-co-ag* means to drive together, which is what the herder would have had to do when his two brothers got sick and he had to drive the different herds of cows—where the new herds had their own personality, weren’t used to the first brother’s way of leading, etc.
From here we can say that thinking (cogitating) is about turning plurality into unity—the many herds of multiple cows. – Nathalie Sinclair