22 Comments

Genuinely an interesting read, Jim! I do wonder, though, how you might reconcile what you say here with the ideas of folks like Paolo Freire, who argues that traditional models of authority oppress students and condition them not to subvert that authority but instead to acquiesce to their own oppression.

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I came to the comments section to note my deep appreciation for this post (a piece about pedagogy that mentions Arendt; be still my heart!), but now I get to do something even better and note my appreciation for the entire discussion in the comments thread. This is the kind of conversation I can't truly engage without losing days to it, but I hope each of you know how much I appreciated reading and thinking about your fair and careful discussions here. I had forgotten my substack @username before I posted here, but I think it summarizes my view on this and most issues of importance in teaching and learning quite well! Glad to have colleagues recognizing the difficulty and doing the hard work so I can enjoy the benefits from the sidelines. :)

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I think the big question, like most in the classroom, is *why* we do what we do. It seems that most common answer is something akin to "we've always done it this way." Whether it's our traditional grading approaches, an attachment to a specific course sequence, or the way we think about managing our classrooms, the decisions always need to be grounded more deeply if they are going to be most effective. It's less top-down dictation and more by-your-side guidance.

I've often been drawn to the connections between gardening and education. We ought to approach our use of power in the same way that a gardener prunes or trellises: use our power and authority to promote flourishing, not just to demonstrate that we have it.

Thanks for the thoughtful post. Off now to brush up on Arendt...

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This supports my premise 100%. It has been said that ‘history repeats’ but that is a simplification. This comment illustrates that, while essential knowledge is passed on, the ability to process and act is forgotten. I can’t respond to modernity exactly like my parents generation. I can’t expect my children to respond to their modernity like me.

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