The Persistent Need for Humanistic Education #edcmooc

29 نوامبر

Preface: The following post is in fact the first sequence of a digital artifact as the final assignment for the EDC (E-learning and Digital Cultures) MOOC powered by Coursera platform and presented by a talented team of scholars from the University of Edinburgh. a


Sequence 1

You must have heard about what happened to Michael Brown in Ferguson and the events afterward. Recently, the testimonies by the policeman who shot the victim has been published and an opinion can be read about it entitled as «Transcript on a face» in a blog post at «the New Inquiry» (+). One of my friends, who is Indian and lives in India, posted a note in reaction to reading it on her wallpaper at Facebook, as follows: a

Among the dozens of deeply sad things I read up on Ferguson yesterday, the one that still haunts me today was this cutting piece on the violence of language, and how words can be weapons in dehumanizing. How often do we use these terms «like an animal», «untamed», «satanic», «demonized», «hounded», «frothing hyenas»? While Wilson didn’t waste a single breath in painting Brown as a «Hulk Hogan» to his shrimpy «five-year old», he projects Brown as having looked up at him. And that’s when he lays on the most damning part of his testimony, that Michael Brown had a demon face: «The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked …» The «it» is Brown’s face, a non-human entity intermixing with human emotional characteristics. Between the lines of Wilson’s stupefying scenario is a stark material and psychic landscape matching the reality of a deeply hateful and segregating world, one that includes and transcends Ferguson. a

With an intellectual sympathy, I made a comment and referred to the notion of man’s failure in the project of humanity within a world full of news about non-egalitarian happenings with respect to race, gender, ethnicity. And this is what Steve Fuller proposes in his podcast, «Humanity 2.0» (+), defining humanity and discussing our ambiguous perceptions about it. She continued our dialog and wrote in response: a

I’m always wary when people say «humanity has failed, all is pointless». I sometimes feel like this too, and with respect to Ferguson, so many are saying race in America is an issue too complex to ever be resolved. But to «give up» on the larger ideals of secular humanism is a luxury of the privileged. Those who live with issues of race, gender, caste, ethnicity don’t have the luxury of throwing their hands up and quitting. Not unless they were willing to quit living altogether. I think we can acknowledge things are pretty shit, and figure out how we can be of use in opening up social and political spaces for those fighting for their very survival. a

Her words made me confront with the case more actively regarding the humanistic education not only with an approach of existential hopeless philosophy claiming for the «death of man», but also with a critical radical participatory approach, as Freire suggests: «… it [education] becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.» i

However, with a reference to N. Aloni’s entry on «humanistic education» (+), it can be concluded that not any individual philosophical or socio-political doctrine about human rights for education would be satisfactory due to theoretical sufferings with respect to the critical arguments about the quality of humanity. Thus, considering me as a lecturer with a background of more than a decade teaching courses on modern technological and engineering fields, it is just the case always to deal with a persistent challenge of interaction with students and learners as the most humanistic entity of any educational system (+). Now, with a broader viewpoint, not only the students attending engineering courses but also everybody who takes part in a learning activity could be considered as the focal point of a humanistic educational process in the «posthuman» situation. a


to be continued … a


i Extracts from the foreword by Richard Shaull for the English translation of Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, available at the web site: «History is a weapon» . a


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