Experiencing the Work of Maxine Greene | Teachers College Columbia University

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Experiencing the Work of Maxine Greene

A world where freedom is the byword
In Education Beyond Education: Self and the Imaginary in Maxine Greene’s Philosophy, John Baldacchino wisely does not presume to summarize the legendary educational philosopher’s “aesthetics, ethics, literary and visual theory, political philosophy, and, indeed, philosophy of education.”
Instead, in his densely written and philosophically intricate book, Baldacchino, Associate Professor of Art Education at TC, develops “a theme in dialogue with Greene’s philosophy,” focusing on “the self and the imaginary as dynamic categories of learning.” The result is a compelling entrée into Greene’s world, where freedom—whether in the context of the arts and imagination or in the classic sense described by Thomas Jefferson—is the byword.
Surveying Greene’s work, Baldacchino considers such topics as how we read, how we construct meaning, and the tension between experience and theory in academia. Along the way he calls upon writers and scholars from Jefferson to Virginia Woolf (a Greene favorite) to Karl Marx. Reading Greene with Baldacchino, one is struck time and again by the power of her insights—the way she locates the revolutionary in processes as simple as… well, reading a book. For Greene, every work of literature is a “possible world,” but such worlds “can only be entered by persons willing to break with the ordinary and the mundane.” As Baldacchino points out, there is something radical about this idea; he calls it a “politics of possibility.”
Baldacchino frequently cites Greene’s argument for “a heightened level of consciousness, a wide-awakeness that transforms and transcends the limitations of the situated condition.” His own book strives toward that end, seeking, as he writes in the introduction, to resist “the reduction of teachers into civil servants within a bureaucratic machine that constantly fails to emancipate the poor and the invisible.”
Radical indeed.
To view a collegial discussion with Associate Professor of Art Education John Baldacchino and TC colleagues Maxine Greene, Megan Laverty, Tom James and David Hansen about his new book Education Beyond Education, please visit www.tc.columbia.edu/news/6904.

Published Friday, Jun. 19, 2009