Maxine Greene talks about the importance of “wide-awake” teaching in her article entitled “Wide-awakeness and the Moral Life”. In her article, Greene invites the reader to explore the abstract concept of what it means to be “wide-awake” as an educator. This is a compelling question as it has many different answers. Since the topic is so complex and has the potential to offer different meanings for each person that reads it.
My group and I thought that (in order to create meaningful conversation) it would be best to slip the class in half and create two different breakout rooms. While in our different rooms, we reflected the topic of “wide-awakeness”. We posed the introductory question ‘what , in your opinion, is wide-awake teaching?’. My group came up with ideas and phrases such as ‘being woke’, ‘having passion’, ‘being aware of everyone’s differences’, and ‘knowing how social issues impact you students’. All of these insights together combine to showcase Maxine Greene’s idea of being “wide awake” because to be “wide-awake” in the realm of education is to be able to grow and to obtain not only an understand thing ourselves but of the people and things around us.
Greene takes a unique approach to explain why it is so important that we as educators become “wide-awake”. She starts by introducing the idea of a mechanical life. green describes the mechanical life as a way of life in which people can become trapped “immersed in their daily lives… in the mechanical round of habitual activities.” (Greene 218). Personally, I couldn’t agree more with Greene. Nowadays, I feel that educators, administrators, and even students are continuously finding themselves immersed in a routine. An example of this would be how how administration, as well as some teachers and students in schools feel that if a high school student doesn’t choose to further their education by attending college, they will amount to nothing and all of their hard work will be wasted. There was a girl in my high school who was a grade above me who had decided that college wasn’t for her and decided that she wanted to go to cosmetology school. When my school’s administration caught wind of this, they were furious and told her that if she didn’t go to college, she would be wasting her life away in a job that “will get you nowhere”. She is now a very successful licensed esthetician at one of the most successful spas in my city.
Greene coupled the thought of a mechanical way of life with the concepts of agency and what it means to live a moral life. As Greene is speaking about the idea of agency in the educator, she poses the thought provoking statement, “Suppose, however, that a few teachers made a serious effort to understand the reasons for the new directive. Suppose they went out into the community to try to assess the degree of pressure on the part of parents.” (Greene 220). She uses this statement to explain the importance of following “the call to action”.
Maxine Greene feels that, as educators, it is important to become the voice of change for our students. She envisions educators to be the spark that starts the flame into their critical thinking about the world and current issues. In our learning experience, we asked our peers the question “Do you think that teachers need to be the agents of change?”. The responses were pretty much the same across the group; “not necessarily but they [educators] do have the potential to plant seed in our students minds so that the change that occurs is student led”. My group and I agreed completely. We feel that it is important that it is not entirely the teacher’s responsibility to conduct and spearhead the call for change. We believed that if the students see a need for change, it will become more genuine if the efforts are lead by the students themselves, this maximizes on the idea of what it means to live a moral life. We also believed that as a result of the change being student lead, it will allow for the students to form their own opinions instead of a teacher lecturing them about how the world “should be”, which is a opinion-driven topic to begin with.
Our group took a different approach to our final learning experience than we have in the past. Outside of class, we decided that because of the importance of this article, we would opt for a more discussion/ conversational centered learning experience, in hopes of engaging more with our classmates and peers. During the learning experience, I helped my group by co-leading peer centered discussion. I focused on talking about the dangers of living a mechanical life and the importance of “waking-up” from the sound sleep of routine. After hearing my peers comments about the idea of “wide-awake” teaching, it makes me excited to see how my peers plan to utilize this concept in their future classrooms as well as how i plan to use it in mine.
Greene, M. (2018/1978). Wide-awakeness and the moral life. In A. R. Sadovnik, P. W. Cookson Jr., S. F. Semel, & R. W. Coughlan (Eds.), Exploring education: An introduction to the foundations of education (5th ed., pp. 218-224). New York, NY: Routledge.
The Importance of “Wide-Awake” Teaching, 1 Jan. 1970, room16thethinkingclassroom.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-importance-of-wide-awake-teaching.html.