Imagination: Maxine Greene

greene.jpgIn 2002 I read Releasing the Imagination – Essays on Education, the Arts, and Social Change, by educational philosopher Maxine Greene. I stumbled upon Maxine Greene in an October 2001 New York Times article, One Philosopher’s Alchemy: Teaching as Romance. Alas, the online version does not include the photo of the then 83 year old Green, reddish hair, v-shaped face, glasses, broad-shouldered jacket, collared dark shirt and matching skirt, flowing scarf dotted with green and white, looking intent and much younger than her age. Luckily, you can both see what she looks like and hear her discuss snippets of philosophy at the maxine greene foundation for social imagination, the arts & education, which she founded in 2003.

Since 1976 Greene has been the Philosopher-in-Residence at the Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education. (To read about the Institute, click the “Lincoln Center Institute” link in the lower right of the Lincoln Center page, under Arts and Education.) I was so taken with Greene’s ideas that during the summer of 2002 I participated in the Lincoln Center Institute’s National Education Workshop: Introduction to Aesthetic Education. (More on that in a future post.)

Maxine Greene’s ideas, along with the Lincoln Center workshop, greatly informed my vision of professional development. Greene also introduced me to John Dewey, another educational philosopher. (Yes, more on him in a future post.)

From 1996 to 2005 I kept a journal of writings about books I read. Here is part of what I wrote about Greene’s Releasing the Imagination. In fact, these are quotes from her book that set the stage for my philosophy of professional development, and confirmed my ideas about education that were formed by my initial six years of teaching at St Ann’s School in Brooklyn, New York.

…to provoke our students to break through the limits of the conventional and the taken for granted, we ourselves have to experience breaks with what has been established in our own lives; we have to keep arousing ourselves to begin again.

By “aesthetic education,” I mean the deliberate efforts to foster increasingly informed and involved encounters with art.

All depends upon a breaking free, a leap, and then a question. I would like to claim that this is how learning happens and the educative task is to create situations in which the young are moved to begin to ask, in all the tones of voice there are, “Why?”


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