Philosophical and Psychological
Foundations of Education


Maxine Greene  

My Educational Philosophy
Quotations by Topic

de Bary
Roland Martin
Excerpts from Maxine Greene's presidential address, AERA 2008, New York City
  • The only people ready to learn are people who can be awakened. Thoreau once said, "I never met a man who was quite awake."
  • To pay attention is our endless and proper work. [excerpt from Maxine Greene's writings]
  • My students know "American Idol" but they don't know John Dewey. [A preface to a passage read from John Dewey.]
  • She read this from John Dewey: "What is the matter? It lies, I think, with our lack of imagination in generating leading ideas. Because we are afraid of speculative ideas, we do, and do over and over again, an immense amount of dead, specialized work in the region of "facts." We forget that such facts are only data; that is, are only fragmentary, uncompleted meanings, and unless they are rounded out into complete ideas-- a work which can only be done by hypotheses, by a free imagination of intellectual possibilities--they are as helpless as are all maimed things and as repellent as are needlessly thwarted ones" (Dewey, 1937, Philosophical Review, 36, 1-9, from an address to the Sixth International Congress of Philosophy, Harvard University, 15 Sept. 1926)
  • ... objecting to a continuation of old thoughts.
  • Lack of imagination ... cowardly dependence of passive ideas. [She added that Dewey "Sounds like Obama."]
  • I'm obsessive about imagination and the link from imagination to the sense of possibility.
  • Emily Dickinson: Imagination lights the slow fuse of possibility.
  • Our inability to take action frightens me.
  • Works of art, if you can move inside them, open up worlds of possibility.
  • Anyone who is one dimensional, who stays in the same place, can't learn, can't live in my opinion.
  • Ponti: Consciousness occurs through others. Arendt: Action is being in the midst of others.
  • How do we connect morality to imagination?
  • Freedom is achieved by resisting obstacles. Feeling free means resisting external demands.
  • Philosophy is the translation of culture into consciousness.
  • Don't get fascinated with "Dancing With the Stars" or Fox News.
  • This country is responsible for rendition and pre-emptive war.
  • [When asked about high-stakes tests and accountability:] To whom are we accountable? [Men in vests are] People who view children as human resources. [on accountability]
  • [When asked how to help younger generations learn to interact with each other in a technological age:] More can be said through poetry. Art and poetry bring people together. We're not so good at creating shared experiences.
  • Tom Stoppard's Rock N Roll
  • I'm afraid that globalization takes place under the umbrella of American power.
  • Book: The God of Small Things.
  • I'm frightened by generalities. I prefer the particular.
  • I need the hip hop perspective as much as I need Mozart, though I hate to admit it.
  • I can't imagine a life without holes in the walls.
  • The important questions are unanswerable. Why do children die? Why did my daughter die at such a young age?
  • [When asked what advice she'd give the next president on education:] Address the freedom of children. The self does not pre-exist; it's created by choice and action.
    NCLB puts a roof on us. It prevents us from addressing the potential of the child to become angry when it's necessary to be angry and not hide behind curtains.
  • [When asked how she would like future teachers to know Maxine Greene:] I'm still trying to figure out where I am not yet. I just try, and I don't know, and I think, why me? It's an agony and a pleasure to live with the unanswered. "You are greeted by the newness of the universe" (Camus). I choose this rather than comfort. It's better to be an unhappy Socrates than a pig satisfied. I'm a pig satisfied.[from: "It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question." John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism, 1863]
  • [When asked what she plans to do in the next five years:] Look at what happened to feminism; art; overcoming respectability that I feel I don't deserve; cultivating outrage

Excerpts from "The Passions of Pluralism: Multiculturalism and the Expanding Community

It seems clear that the more continuous and authentic personal encounters can be, the less likely it will be for categorizing and distancing to take place. ~ Maxine Greene, "The Passions of Pluralism"

What of those who said no, who found no place, who made no mark? ~ Maxine Greene, "The Passions of Pluralism"

If we break through and even disrupt a surface equilibrium and uniformity, this does not mean that particular ethnic or racial traditions ought to replace our own. ~ Maxine Greene, "The Passions of Pluralism"

Cultural background surely plays a part in shaping identity; but it does not determine identity. ~ Maxine Greene, "The Passions of Pluralism"

There has to be a feeling of ownership of one's personal history. ~ Maxine Greene, "The Passions of Pluralism"

What is crucial is the provision of opportunities for telling all the diverse stories, for interpreting membership as well as ethnicity, for making inescapable the braids of experience woven into the fabric of America's plurality. ~ Maxine Greene, "The Passions of Pluralism"

Learning to look through multiple perspectives, young people may be helped to build bridges among themselves; attending to a range of human stories, they may be provoked to heal and to transform. ~ Maxine Greene, "The Passions of Pluralism"

Something life-affirming in diversity must be discovered and rediscovered, as what is held in common becomes always more many-faceted—open and inclusive, drawn to untapped possibility. ~ Maxine Greene, "The Passions of Pluralism"


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