[commentary] On Pedagogy


[commentary] On Pedagogy

February 2017

I think one easy way to be a good teacher, is to take advantage of the ‘characterlogical’ nature of man. I am borrowing this word ‘characterlogical’ from Ernest Becker who details the concept in his book the Denial of Death.

All it means is that we are story-telling creatures who have a deep desire to make meaning out of ourselves and our world. Central to any story are characters. More specifically, the hero is the axis upon which all else is fixed.

When introducing Weber’s ‘Politic as a Vocation’- be sure to tell your students that Bill Clinton told his interviewer that it was one of the most influential texts he had read as a young man. It profoundly influenced how he thought about life and his career.

When introducing Fanon’s ‘Wretched of the Earth’- be sure to tell your students that this text singlehandedly influenced the Iranian Revolution of the 60′s and 70′s. Ayatollah Khomeini leaned heavily upon the philosophy of Shariati. Shariata made critical links between Fanon’s theories and Islam as a student in Paris. Shariata produced the first Persian translation of ‘Wretched of the Earth’ as a student.

When introducing Robinson’s ‘Gilead’- be sure to tell your students that it is one of Obama’s favorite books.

I hope the three examples above make clear my analysis. All of your students possess mythical fantasies. We all seek to be strong and powerful as our presidents and leaders. We will be captivated by these strange texts which promise us progress and ‘secrets’ into how to become a hero.