Light and darkness: Extract from an unfinished conversation

On Cutting Chai today, we introduce some thoughts from the the book dedicated to Maxine Greene titled “A Light in Dark Times: Maxine Greene and the Unfinished Conversation” by Ayers and Miller.

This volume about Maxine Greene assembled by her followers, among them former students, is a thoroughly uplifting collection. It provides insight into a scholar’s mind as well as her messages that she restively communicated throughout her career. Her life was dedicated to blurring the boundaries between disciplines, dichotomies and determinations and resist both light and darkness. Nothing was considered outside of the classroom, no discussion was too remote and any encounter could provide an opportunity to learn. For her, teaching was dialogue, a resistance, and as action towards freedom and not pacification or transmission.

She also believed that without considering context, we are blind to our own lives, and unless we periodically review who we are so that we may act for the benefit of others and ourselves. Furthermore, she argued that these possibilities are unique for each person since we exist only in relation to the situations we know and live within. It is from this dialectic that “untapped possibilities” can emerge. In this sense, therefore, each person’s task is distinctive, constructed in the dynamics between “choice and chance”, a phrase borrowed from the first chapter by William Ayers.

When Maxine Greene first announced to her mother that she was moving to study philosophy, commonly understood as an arcane subject, irrelevant even, her mother gave her a cold hard stare and challenged her to “Say something in philosophy” Ayers tells us. There are numerous gems sprinkled around this volume, and we hope that this brief introduction has whetted your interest in knowing about her life and work. The following list is especially insightful.

Page 7

More resources:

Picture credit: Damini Tiwari

Ayers, W.C., & Miller, J. L. (1998) A light in the dark times: Maxine Greene and the unfinished conversation. New York, NY: Teachers College Press, Columbia University.

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