Maxine Greene: Wide Awake and Morality
While exploring the concept of education and its relevance to human life, Maxine Greene brings forth the concept of wide awakeness. He attributes fullness of life to being awake, such that one can be able to think about and actually initiate projects that would benefit other men both in the present and in the future. Greene (1977) asserts that the concept of moral reform can also be defined through the effort to throw off sleep. Man’s inability to effectively report on all his activities reflects a sense of slumber. With complete wakefulness, men can be able to perform projects that would benefit themselves and others. According to Greene, many people are sufficiently awake to engage in physical activity yet unable to handle intellectual exertion.
Intellectual exertion as described by Greene could be taken to mean the ability to accept and apply education (Greene, 1977). From the argument that it is only through wakefulness that people get to be fully alive, it can be deduced that Greene’s opinion is that such education, gained through exertion, is what contributes to people’s ability to optimize their livelihood. The concept of morality is also intertwined to the precepts of this argument in that the core of moral behavior is the avoidance of harm and anything that would result in limited benefit for many people. Connecting this concept of morality to Greene’s argument that morality is defined by the ability to exert oneself to the point of helping others in the long term, shows that the general objective of morality is united regardless of the perspective through which one looks at it.
The role of education in fostering morality and life itself can be considered superficial in the context of Greene’s arguments. The relevance of education in particular, has only a limited application to both morality and wakefulness. On the one hand, education expands one’s mind to be able to consider facts through lenses that they could not have used previously. This however can only work effectively if people who gain education are willing to be in a state of heightened consciousness and reflectivity. Such consciousness is what exposes the supposedly awake to the problems of the human race, enabling them to think of solutions that would benefit even the coming generations. Individuals who have been able to make major scientific and philosophical discoveries only gain those accomplishments through repetitive undertakings of human projects. In most cases, there are assumptions that those who achieve great academic endeavors do so due to their withdrawal to the subjective world. This is however countered with the proposal that humans can only define themselves by virtue of the projects they drive to completion, which is indirectly through education. Such education is also what contributes to self creation.
Like Greene, Paulo Freire had an interesting outlook on education. The purpose of education according to Freire for instance, was to enhance community and to raise social capital that builds strategies for enabling humans to flourish. To him, education consisted of two aspects namely dialogue and praxis. Through dialogue, one gets to understand social problems. Praxis is then the informed action that one engages in following dialogue (Smith, 2002). This being said, formal education is not the core driver of development per se since the informal education too entails dialogue and can be pragmatic. Considering this perspective, it is deductible that just like Greene, Freire holds the opinion that education is only functional if implemented for the benefit of the society.
Through an evaluation of various scholastic positions, one comes to a conclusion that through involvement in various intellectual endeavors, one can become a contributor to human livelihood through novel ideas and discoveries. The ability to integrate the principles of reflection and self evaluation into the learning system and/ or educational enterprises can be a strategy for effective project management. Not only does education expand the mind, but it also increases the opportunities available to those who gain it for enhancing the self and others.
Greene, M. (1977).Toward Wide-Awakeness: An Argument for the Arts and Humanities in Education. Issues in Focus, 79(4), 119- 125. Retrieved from maxinegreene.org/uploads/library/toward_wide_wakeness.pdf
Smith, M.K. (2002). Paulo Freire: dialogue, praxis and education. Infed. Retrieved from infed.org/mobi/paulo-freire-dialogue-praxis-and-education/