Jane Tompkins Indians Essay, Research Paper
Whenever you are in any educational situation, you are subject to perspectives and bias of the instructors. In an essay entitled “Indians,” by Jane Tompkins, it discusses how different biases may reflect upon one’s concept of history. It is imperative to realize that when learning, which generally involves someone’s concept of history, we are consequently subject to that person’s perspectives that may be a result of their upbringing.
In the essay Tompkins regarding history, Tompkins says “it concerns the difference that point of view makes when people are giving accounts of events, whether at first or second hand. The problem is that if all accounts of events are determined through and through by the observer’s frame of reference, then one will never know, if any given case, what really happened.”(Pg. 619)
The purpose of this essay is that history is a result of point of view. It is both subject to the biases of the one who presents it as it is subject to the biases of the one who observes it. You can then draw a similar parallel to education. The point is that you learn something you are subject to the educator’s opinion as well as your prejudices regarding the topic. This leads me to one of Tompkins main points of discussion: “What really is the truth?”
As I have mentioned throughout the essay, everything is subject to the opinions and prejudices of the observer. When trying to decipher a fact, or “the truth” you must realize that people may see a particular instance in many different points of view. Tompkins discusses this problem and its relation to the European-Indian conflict of the 17th and 18th centuries. In doing so she quotes a particular source of puritan background who considers the Indians to be brutal savages who raped and tortured their captives. She then quotes someone who is favorable towards the Indians, said that Indians were a highly cultured group of people who helped the European settlers adapt to their new environment.
My point for addressing these two points of view is to illustrate how these two people can have such diverse opinions regarding the same topic. Both of these people are saying the truth, yet when trying to understand the broad point of view you can’t accept either of them as the whole truth. Because of these two people’s bias’ they may have a tendency to neglect certain facts that may be detrimental to the image they where trying to portray. In order to obtain the most accurate “truth” you must take all the different points of view, and while putting aside your personal bias’ and the bias’ of those who are presenting the story, you must then decide for yourself what is believable and what may be lacking important information.
When trying to decipher the truth, there is a close parallel to the “banking” theory. The banking theory is one in which you are subject to the prejudices and beliefs of the educator, and you are just filled with their beliefs. When trying to learn history you are consequently subject to the same prejudices. All you really have to learn from are the sources that you are researching. You are then the same as the student in the banking theory.
When reading this essay it is also important to note that it is not intendedto discourage you from learning from history. If you don’t know what history happened in the past you are most likely subject to it repeating itself. It is imperative that you learn from the what happened in the past. Also, you must learn from the people’s perspectives. This will allow you to see the situation from a variety of different angles. Once you are able see these different points of view, you will consequently be able to learn more about the people who have these views. Consequently, you will be able to filter out such prejudices in the future.
In order to learn anything about the world around you, it is imperative that you take in mind that different people will have these bias’ and prejudices. Therefore when learning from them you may only see one point of view. To learn the whole truth, you must take in as many points of view as possible. This will allow you to possibly filter out the conflicting points of view, and try to realize the common story in all of them. By doing this you will be able to see the closest thing to the truth as possible.