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Harm, this paper proposes, is a viable teaching objective. Presenting an andragogy of post secondary liberal arts education, this paper explores the relationship between critical thinking and subjective harm, arguing that subjective harm is an inevitable outcome of critical thinking practice. The author situates this teaching methodology within the discourse theory of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, positioning this critical thinking andragogy specifically within the Discourse of the Hysteric, which interrogates the institutionalized epistemology present in universities. Defining critical thinking as a subjective cognitive technique adjoined to reflexivity and reflective practice, this paper examines and refutes the university principle of primum non nocere (do no harm), arguing that it represents a logical incoherence in university principles. Semantically and conceptually examining the terminologies involved, the author contends that, to the extent that we accept the definition of “harm” found in the Discourse of the University, any teaching practice that valorizes critical thinking inevitably will, and should, be harmful.
The viability of philosophy of education as a distinct and valued field of inquiry in educational research is under significant threat. While the debate over the proper role and value of philosophy of education continues, courses and faculty positions in philosophy of education become increasingly rare. I advance the view that this situation requires philosophers of education find new ways to bring their work to practicing educators. I propose a particular kind of normative analysis, within the context of moral education, as one way to bring valuable philosophic work to the daily practice of teaching. It is argued that the use of normative criteria, comprised of certain key characteristics for moral education, can serve not only as valuable analytic tools but may also draw practicing educators into conversations that generally take place between philosophers of education in the academy.
Despite the multiplicity of constructions of childhood in various disciplines, the prevalent view is that children are incompetent in the sense of lacking reason, maturity, or independence. In this paper, I first examine how this dominant view is constructed in the fields of philosophy and psychology, highlighting the perspectives of Plato, Aristotle, John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Jean Piaget. Then, following Jacques Derrida who conceives justice as a source of meaning for deconstruction, I deconstruct several of the dominant constructions and argue that they do not do children justice. To return justice to childhood, I suggest that childhood should be regarded as a self-contained state with distinctive features that are worthy of consideration in their own right rather than as an incomplete state of incompetence relative to adulthood that is considered a complete state of humans, while adulthood should be regarded as a never-ending process of becoming mature that includes rather than excludes childhood. Moreover, I suggest that both the absolute denial of adult rights to children and the naturalization of childhood in developmental psychology as a biologically determined and culturally universal stage of irrationality should be challenged.
The academy has gained a reputation as a place of authoritative statements, truth, and insight as a result of its long history. Yet during that history its authority to make definitive statements has been built on different foundations—now overlapped and layered. Each source of authority has buried, overlaid, or sometimes supplanted the previous one while the institution has carried on. Is this historical value still solid or is it threatened by the conditions we find ourselves in today? As members of the academy, perhaps we need to ask ourselves about the foundations on which we build and the functions that the Academy may yet serve in society. Using thoughts inspired by Herman Hess’s Magister Ludi, this paper explores those questions.
Several well-known scholars, including Clarence Karier, Walter Feinberg, and Eamonn Callan, have offered arguments suggesting that John Dewey was more politically conservative than is generally thought. Karier and Feinberg base their respective cases on Dewey’s involvement with Polish community during World War I, while Callan relies heavily on some remarks offered in one of Dewey’s later works, Ethics. In the following account, it is suggested that neither of these analyses withstands careful scrutiny. In the case of the Polish affair, Karier and Feinberg are not able to marshal sufficient evidence to condemn Dewey convincingly, and there is a significant quantity of counterevidence which indicates that Dewey’s intentions were benign. Callan’s case, though seemingly convincing, is undermined by the joint authorship of the Ethics and by information contained in Dewey’s correspondence. In conclusion, it is argued that the more popular understanding of Dewey as a left-liberal reformer is, in fact, correct.
The Indian-America philosopher Sri Chinmoy Ghose has distinguished between outer silence, inner silence, and innermost silence. In this paper I explore these distinctions and their educational relevance. My main conclusions are that (a) a deep inner silence, undistracted by questions or other thoughts, is at the root of one paradigm kind of good listening in education, and (b) what Chinmoy refers to as “innermost silence” is the moral virtue of receptivity to others that sustains inner silence, even under challenging conditions, a virtue of importance in teaching and in learning from others.
Plato’s suggestion that pure knowledge, described in his theory of Forms as the archetypal basis of reality, is questioned using the sequence from the key session of a Jungian Sandplay therapy case as an example of direct human experience of the archetype. As was recognized by Jung, a parallel may be drawn between Jungian archetypes and Platonic Forms in that both are primary structures contained and manifested in the phenomenal world. In Sandplay, a patient unable to transcend her quandary through reason is able to find relief from the tension of the arguing opposites within her when she creates an image with her hands, in a state of reverie, responding to an internal impetus governed not by reason alone but by spontaneous, nonverbal sensory experience. The image she creates in this way brings her into a deep relationship with herself and marks the beginning of a newly forming selfconfidence that guides her. This example illustrates the holistic nature of human experience and change processes, in therapy or in any learning context.
Conventionally, it is true an essay has a structure that moves progressively and logically from a beginning to a conclusion. In this group of small essays, I would like to explore my interests in the arts and education by working more with broad strokes, letting meanings emerge from passages in a less linear way, more like a collage, for example. Perhaps such an approach will be congenial for the arts, which are elusive, felt and expressive as much as conceptual.