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Existential Philosophy and the Promise of Education

Learning from Myths and Metaphors

Mordechai Gordon

Myths and metaphors share not only an ability to call our attention to aspects of our world of which we were previously unaware, but also a propensity toward symbolic meanings and interpretations. In Existential Philosophy and the Promise of Education: Learning from Myths and Metaphors, Professor Gordon draws on some well-known myths and metaphors of various Existentialist thinkers and writers as a lens and an interpretative framework with which to explore a variety of issues in philosophy of education. His book argues that symbolic or metaphorical interpretations can offer us representations of problems in education that go beyond what we can gain when we consider them only in their literal sense. Existential Philosophy and the Promise of Education is an excellent classroom text for a variety of foundations courses, including the Philosophy of Education.
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Chapter 8. Maxine Greene, Opening Spaces, and Education for Freedom


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In chapter seven, I examined some important educational lessons that emerged out of a critical analysis of Hannah Arendt’s concept of the banality of evil. I mentioned then that Maxine Greene was deeply troubled by the phenomenon of thoughtlessness, especially when it manifested in the context of education. It is only fitting to follow up the discussion of Arendt’s concept of banality with an exploration of Greene’s notion of ‘opening spaces’ in education. Throughout her writings, Greene insisted on the need to make sure that education is aimed at achieving freedom and cultivating the imagination, as opposed to what she considered to be mere technical or banal objectives. That Arendt was a major influence on Greene’s thinking is evident to anyone who has ever done even a cursory reading of her writings. Indeed, quotes from Arendt’s The Human Condition, On Revolution, The Origins of Totalitarianism’ and Men in Dark Times (among others) are scattered throughout virtually all of Greene’s books and many of her articles. Much like many contemporary scholars of Arendt, Greene was intrigued by a number of Arendt’s concepts such as action, natality, and public space and attempted to seriously wrestle with the question of how these concepts can be applied to the educational arena.1 ← 147 | 148 →

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