Inside the curriculum, my first and last commitment as an academic is to create a safe space for unsafe thoughts, to explore different sides of difficult issues, to let heresies and orthodoxies walk hand in hand, to open up conversations wherever possible, to problematize and perturb. And to try, however I can, to make room at the table for all sorts of identities, all sorts of ways of seeing and being, while trying to make sure that everyone has to deal with their share of challenges and doubts.

"For Freire, pedagogy is not a method or an a priori technique to be imposed on all students, but a political and moral practice that provides the knowledge, skills and social relations that enable students to expand the possibilities of what it means to be critical citizens, while expanding and deepening their participation in the promise of a substantive democracy. Critical thinking for Freire was not an object lesson in test taking, but a tool for self-determination and civic engagement. For Freire, critical thinking was not about the task of simply reproducing the past and understanding the present. On the contrary, it offered a way of thinking beyond the present, soaring beyond the immediate confines of one’s experiences, entering into a critical dialogue with history and imagining a future that did not merely reproduce the present."

Rethinking Education as the Practice of Freedom: Paulo Freire and the Promise of Critical Pedagogy | truthout

Tags: pedagogy

I should add that Alex deserves most of the credit for suggesting the readings that I assigned in support of my Iran/Nuclear Weapons simulation (though I ended up going in a different direction in terms of structure).


The primary task of a useful teacher is to teach his students to recognize ‘inconvenient’ facts—I mean facts that are inconvenient for their party opinions. And for every party opinion there are facts that are extremely inconvenient, for my own opinion no less than for others. I believe the teacher accomplishes more than a mere intellectual task if he compels his audience to accustom itself to the existence of such facts. I would be so immodest as even to apply the expression ‘moral achievement,’ though perhaps this may sound too grandiose for something that should go without saying.

Thus far I have spoken only of practical reasons for avoiding the imposition of a personal point of view. But these are not the only reasons. The impossibility of ‘scientifically’ pleading for practical and interested stands except in discussing the means for a firmly given and presupposed end—rests upon reasons that lie far deeper.

‘Scientific’ pleading is meaningless in principle because the various value spheres of the world stand in irreconcilable conflict with each other. The elder Mill, whose philosophy I will not praise otherwise, was on this point right when he said If one proceeds from pure experience, one arrives at polytheism. This is shallow formulation and sounds paradoxical, and yet there is truth in it. ….

We live as did the ancients when their world was not yet disenchanted of its gods and demons, only we live in a different sense.


Max Weber | Science as a Vocation

Original German text:Wissenschaft als Beruf