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In today's education, a leading philosopher is Maxine Green. In her 90’s she’s teaching. She is at Columbia University's teachers college.She is most known for her “wide awakeness” theory. Students need to be encouraged to be self-reflective and wide-awake and be reasonable. And reasonableness can be defined as understanding and comprehending your lived experience.She is concerned with schools fostering conformity and obedience. She believes that students are not able to think for themselves. And, she feels that education should do just that- help learners understand and comprehend themselves. She is quoted as saying “Most educators impose too many of their own ideas. I think teaching should be a way of helping people find themselves and find out what they believe and (to) question…”Students and educators should be aware of their own choices, be aware of their situation, don’t go along with the crowd or conform. Be true to yourself. Think about your worldly condition, inquire into the forces that seem to dominate you. And be aware of stifling education situations like mandated testing.She doesn’t want people to go along with the herd. This is a continuous theme in existentialism.
Mary Raymond Kathy Jackson 1
What is Existentialism? When many people think of existentialism, they think of the dark and lonely individual. A person is a conscious subject; not a thing to be predicted or manipulated. Basic themes: nothingness, anxiety, absurdity, death and alienation. 2
INDIVIDUALISM! What we found in our research, however, is that it is a philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness of the individual. “In the existentialist world, each person is born, lives, chooses his or her course, and creates the meaning of his or her own existence.” 3
Make Your Own Choice Christianity says, “Look to God, who watches over and takes charge of all.” Plato and Aristotle said, “Look to a rational system of logical necessity.” Naturalism says, “Follow nature; let nature be responsible.” The Experimentalists say, “Look to the scientific method; look to the community.” Wrong! Look to your own choice! 4
Philosophers of Existentialism Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Martin Buber (1878-1965) Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) Maxine Greene (1917- ) 5
Friedrich Nietzsche Nietzsche influenced the idea of individualism: he thought traditional morality weakened people, smothering their individuality. His philosophy centers around the idea of “life-affirmation,”-question all of that which “drain life’s energies” no matter how popular those beliefs.• “God is dead”. 6
Soren Kierkegaard Devout Christian – one should take a “leap of faith” in their belief of God even though there is no proof. People should make their own choices and be held completely responsible. “Education should be subjective and religious, devoted to developing individuality and the individual’s relationship with God.” Opposed vocational and technical schools because they are too objective - even believed that the objectivity of science leads people away from their Christian beliefs, becoming more group-centered. 7
Martin Buber Promoted the “need for mutual respect and dignity among all humans.” I And Thou - best-known book. “I - It” - objective relationship “I - Thou” - subjective relationship Teacher/Student relationship 8
Martin Heidegger “Being” and not the lonely, estranged individual. “Being-in-the-world” - Dasein analysis Individual interprets a personal world of meaning. 1. Environment 2. Social 3. Individual - “Who Am I” 9
Jean-Paul Sartre Best-known leading philosopher of existentialism. Student of Heidegger in the 1930’s. Atheist Being & Nothingness “being-for-itself”-consciousness of man “being-in-itself”-objects of consciousness “Existence precedes essence.” “Man is condemned to be free.” 10
Sartre con’t. Sartre saw “nature”, “law”, and “science” as human creations. Rules and restrictions are absurd creations of humans. “People try to be God” - he does not believe God exists - further evidence of human absurdity. Who is responsible for existence today (war, starvation, poverty)? People are! If they can create war, they can create peace. 11
Maxine Greene Modern existentialism “Wide-awakeness” Open to possibilities, be wide awake and be reasonable. Reasonableness can be defined as understanding and comprehending your lived experience. Supports the arts and humanities 12
Existentialism and EducationHow do we create individualism in the classroom? Get to know your student. Greet your student at the door. Let your students get to know you.Diversity in education Curriculum Different ways of teaching Every teacher a student and every student a teacher. They encourage Arts and Humanities, i.e. Charter Schools 14
Schools Two schools that are built on the existentialist philosophy 1. Summerhill school in Suffolk, England Founded in 1921 by AS Neil Children should be themselves-if they want to lie around, let them, they do not have to go to class. Referred to as a democratic society-children and adults have equal votes, children even help create the rules of behavior and the curriculum Subjects are the whole spectrum from chemistry to art 2. Sudbury Valley School, Framingham, MA “…freedom is essential to the development of personal responsibility” 15
Pros and Cons Pros of existentialism Cons of existentialism Encourages individuality- Hard to implement totally in acknowledges no two the 21st century public children are alike-teach as classroom individuals It’s hard to choose your own Encourages responsibility existence when we are so Helps people answer the dependent on outside stimuli question “Who am I?” like money and survival. We Mutual respect between the are not totally ourselves when student and the teacher we go on a job interview. We have to be what we think the interviewer wants us to be. 16
Our Thoughts We found this to be an interesting philosophy but also a challenging one. It was a challenging thought process because on one hand you have look to your own choice, but philosophers such as Kirkegaard, who is a devout Christian, is also looking to a higher power than himself. But perhaps that is what individualism is, this is his own choice. The quote that we feel captures this philosophy is one we found in notes from Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness”: “Freedom is humanity’s curse as well as its blessing, and what we make of that freedom is our own.” 17
References: September 7, 2009, from Slides 2 and 3: Retrieved http://www.geocities.com/riceharvest/existentialism.htm Slide 4: Ivory, G. Noddings Chapter 4: Existentialism: Full. Retrieved September 9, 2009, from New Mexico State University, History and Philosophy of Education Web site: http://education.nmsu.edu/emd/faculty/ivory/emd572/notes/nod04ex full.pdf Slides 7-13: Ozmon, Howard A, Craver, Samuel M. , (2008). Philosophical Foundations of Education Slide 12: Phillips, A. (2009 September). Maxine Greene, Master Educator, Philosopher and Humanist. VOA News. Retrieved September 25, 2009, from http://www.voanews.com/english/AmericanLife/2009-09-25- voa22.cfm Slide 15: Sudbury Valley School. Independence. Retrieved September 9, 2009 from http://www.sudval.org/01_abou_01.html Slide 15: Summerhill School. FAQ. Retrieved September 9, 2009 from http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/QAs-2009.pdf 20