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The Philosophically Educated Teacher as a Traveler

Cristina Cammarano

Title:
The Philosophically Educated Teacher as a Traveler
Author(s):
Cammarano, Cristina
Thesis Advisor(s):
Hansen, David
Date:
Type:
Dissertations
Department:
Philosophy and Education
Permanent URL:
Notes:
Ph.D., Columbia University.
Abstract:
My dissertation investigates teachers' thinking within that "oscillating place of difference" that is the classroom. I propose that teachers think and see differently in the classroom because they have practiced, like travelers, the dynamic thinking which makes them open to novelty, attentive to difference, reflective wayfarers on the paths of the world. I offer a threefold articulation of teaching into thinking, traveling and philosophizing . My guiding figure is that of teacher as traveler. I focus on the teacher's way of seeing the familiar and the unfamiliar in the classroom. Reliance on teaching routines is considered as a sign of the need for the teacher to feel at home in the classroom, and as a response to the inherent uncertainty of the educational experience. Dewey's conception of reflective thinking is put at work to explain teachers thinking in the classroom: reflection is a twofold movement of the mind that at first focuses on the given particular of the experience, and that also expands and opens up the given to new possible interpretations. The third chapter proposes to historicize the metaphor of teacher as traveler by considering Graeco-Roman thinking about travel and movement in relation to knowledge and wisdom. I consider the thesis that traveling is conducive to learning and wisdom. Herodotus explicitly connects travel to knowledge. The presence of itinerant teachers in Ancient Greece seems to reinforce this connection, as does the mythological representation of the ideal teacher as the centaur Chiron. I then posit an antithetical idea: that traveling be counterproductive because in travel the person is exposed to distraction, loss of focus, fragmentation. This antithesis is endorsed by Seneca's Epistles to Lucilius. The dissertation moves to a re-examination of the figure of teacher as traveler in relation to the idea of home. The traveler reaches out and explores novelty and alterity in a meaning-making relation to where she is from. Similarly, the teacher thinks in the classroom by being attentive to newness and difference while keeping in mind the home or familiar: her routines, her curriculum, her tradition Montaigne's humanistic philosophizing is considered in its constitutive dynamism. The way to the knowledge of home-- and the wisdom deriving from it-- passes through the encounter with the Other, be it the indigenous inhabitant of the new world, or the neighboring country, or a different language. Like a traveler, a teacher retains her freedom to move and to chose the direction to her steps, and carries the necessary provisions and supplies: enough to get around, but not too many to weigh her down. The teacher as traveler can read the world of experience, can read her discipline, and can read her students by paying attention and knowing their pace. The encounters that are at the heart of the educational experience, between teachers, students, works and things of the world, all concur to exercise the mind of a traveler: a mind that finds itself " at home" in the world.
Subject(s):
Philosophy of education
Teacher education
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