Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Does Schooling Promote Personal Authenticity? Should It?

We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity. -- Barbara de Angelis
Just how to interpret the expression, “Know Thyself,” has been debated throughout history. We can cook down the options into two categories of personality theory:
a. Clothes Make the (Wo)Man : your so-called “personhood” is like an empty coat hanger whose appearance changes with the suit or outfit that is hung on it as the situation requires. (see The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman)

b. The “Inner Core” theory: There is in you an inner, unique something, call it a spirit, a soul, an essence, that must be developed and nourished despite the external world’s, society’s pressures to render you a clone of everyone else.
Clearly de Angelis quoted above would support the second theory.

But is it possible, and if possible, desirable for schools, in this gigantic, multicultural, minimal-consensus society of ours to try to get each person to say “No!” to all of those who are perceived as “not serving” that particular individual?

What if students, at any age, do not perceive their parents and teachers as “serving” them? What if some people -- there are obviously no few of these -- don’t perceive laws and moral codes as “serving” them.

What if I perceive your continued existence as “not serving” me?

Will you set up in authority some kind of committee that will tell me and the others when our perceptions are mistaken? And how will you get us to submit to your so-called “authority”? With -- to put it into old-fashioned language -- “fire and sword”?

Is that the “authenticity” you want? Our would you prefer that, occasionally, we all suit ourselves as the situation requires -- preferably in fashions not too clashing?

For references and to examine these issues further, see STUDENT CENTEREDNESS: reconsiderations

--- EGR

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