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A Cognitive Clash in the Classroom: The Incommensurability of Jewish and Arab Grammars of Arabic

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Chapter Summary

Chapter four makes the case that the Arabic grammar that is taught in the Jewish sector, and the Arabic grammar that is taught in the Arab sector, are two distinct, incommensurable bodies of knowledge. Arab university students arrive ill prepared for the encounter and are therefore disorientated by the educational approach in the university Arabic grammar classroom. The chapter compares this kind of disorientation to Lévy-Bruhl’s originary moment of cross-cultural incomprehension that led to the formulation of his cognitive relativism. A ubiquitous metacognitive blindness prevents participants in the academic educational exchange from realising how profound the differences are. Arab students’ underachievement is therefore not perceived as a systemic problem, but is rather experienced as a personal failure of individual students.



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