On the Lives and Education of Children
Edited By Paul L. Thomas, Paul R. Carr, Julie A. Gorlewski and Brad J. Porfilio
Chapter Twenty: Toward Pedagogies of “Senseless Kindness” in Critical Education
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Toward Pedagogies OF “Senseless Kindness” IN Critical Education
MICHALINOS ZEMBYLAS, ROBERT HATTAM, AND MAIJA LANAS
Ikonnikov does not believe in Good. He believes in human kindness: Yes, as well as this terrible Good with a capital ‘G’, there is everyday human kindness. The kindness of an old woman carrying a piece of bread to a prisoner, the kindness of a soldier allowing a wounded enemy to drink from his water flask, the kindness of youth toward age, the kindness of a peasant hiding an old Jew in his loft. The kindness of a prison guard who risks his own liberty to pass on letters written by a prisoner not to his ideological comrades, but to his wife and mother.
The private kindness of one individual toward another; a petty, thoughtless kindness; an unwitnessed kindness. Something we could call senseless kindness. A kindness outside any system of social or religious good … Even at the most terrible times, through all the mad acts carried out in the name of Universal Good and the glory of States, times when people were tossed about like branches in the wind, filling ditches and gullies like stones in an avalanche—even then this senseless, pathetic kindness remained scattered throughout life like atoms of radium.
—(GROSSMAN, 2006, pp. 391–392)
The term “senseless kindness” comes from the epic novel Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman—a Russian-Jewish novelist...
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