Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Blind Men and the Elephant: Poetry to Illustrate Perspectives

In the beginning of my courses, I like to use this poem by John Godfrey Saxe called, The Blind Men and the Elephant.  Sometimes it is called, The Six Men of Indostan.

I read the poem as I show it on the front screen.  I ask the students to discuss the meaning of the poem.  The higher the level of student, the better your responses are likely to be.

I liken the six men as the six main perspectives of psychology.  They are looking at the same behavior, but each is limited by its own definition and focus, just like the blind men. "Though each of them were partly right, and all were in the wrong."

A PowerPoint version of the poem can be found here:

posted by Chuck Schallhorn


mbritt said...

Good timing for me Chuck, since I'll be discussing the different perspectives in class today. If anyone is interested, I also ask the students the question, "Why is it so hard to lose weight?" and after some discussion I show them a concept map I put together that tries to explain the different reasons why it's hard to lose weight from the different psychological perspectives. Feel free to use the map:

JennHKing said...

I have done something similar with the book 7 Blind Mice. However, I have not linked it to the perspectives. I have used it to ask students how this fable connects to psychology.

Thank you for sharing this great idea!

Chuck Schallhorn said...

Michael, nice mind map. Excellent work. It really captures the various perspectives nicely.

Mrs. Amy Ramponi said...

I love this story! I use it when I teach Hinduism!

I love the Incognito story for explaining the perspectives of Psychology. Perfect.

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing this in a Wade/Tavris textbook c. 2000. Were they the first to apply the poem to psych perspectives or is there an earlier origin?