This week in Critical Thinking class, we discussed how context can change the meaning and the intent of an argument. To elucidate that, I asked students to draw pictures in which the same normal objects would take on a completely different meaning just based on what was around them. To my delight, students really got into it and drew some very creative contexts.
The first image was of an angry dog. In the large white space around the dog (not included here), students added context to change the meaning. Some that stood out were… 1) drawing a frame around the dog, which made it into a picture; 2) putting the dog on a leash; 3) adding a tree with a squirrel running up it teasingly; 4) placing the dog in the middle of a dangerous intersection; 5) guarding a house.
The second image was of a crying baby. In this instance, I was surprised at how funny the obvious ones were: 1) drawing a poopy diaper; 2) depicting a mother leaving; 3) sketching a bath time. The wild ones were funny in a “that’s so wrong” kind of way… 4) falling out of a window; 5) floating down a river; and 6) being chased by an angry dog.
The last picture was of a man with a gun. Some of the best from here include… 1) target practice; 2) carnival game; 3) bank robbery; 4) old fashioned duel. My favorite by far though was the student who drew a hand underneath the man, which instantly changed it into an action figure.
From here, students went on to draw pictures with the same statements and arguments in several different contexts. For the last ten minutes we talked about what it means when someone “takes something out of context.” Overall the lesson went really well. Looking forward, however, I can only wonder if this lesson itself will be a success again..even if done in a different context.