on lenses

Since the age of eight, I’ve worn glasses. At the beginning, I was only required to wear them to see the teacher from my preferred seat at the back of the room, but my memory is that I wore them all of my waking hours, except when I was reading, and that habit has persisted all the years since. And so, I have always been used to the fact that the lenses I wear have a significant impact on how I see the world.

Recently, I started reflecting on the other lenses through which I examine the world. Mathematics is one of those lenses; I have an appreciation for the power of clarity in definitions and description, as well as the structure of argument and abstraction. One aspect of this lens is the unexpected joy of discovering sometimes unexpected commonalities in seemingly unrelated situations.

I have always found this mathematical lens to be a useful lens through which to view some aspects of administration and governance. In discussions around policy development, to take one example, having clarity in definitions can be invaluable, to minimize the potential ambiguities that can arise in interpretation, particularly once the history and context around the policy have been lost in the mists of time.

Aikido is another lens, and one that’s come up a number of times through these (virtual) pages. One critical aspect of aikido is contact, and applying the mathematical lens to this, establishing what we actually mean by contact is important here.

Taken somewhat broadly, contact can be interpreted to mean engagement or focus. When applying an aikido technique on uke (the person on whom the technique is applied), there is nothing gained from the movement unless as tori (the person applying the technique), we are moving uke in some essential way.

And this notion of contact is useful elsewhere. In teaching, establishing and maintaining contact with the students is core to teaching. In administrative work, it is important to maintain contact with the core of arguments and not be distracted by the sound and fury of the surrounding discussions.

Somewhat recursively, this notion of lenses is itself a helpful lens through which to reflect on the world. And that’s something for further ponderation.

~ by Jim Anderson on 13 June 2021.

One Response to “on lenses”

  1. […] this year, I wrote about lenses and how they affect our observational windows. This relates as well to the Rashamon moment, that I […]

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