|The Human Condition (Collage about Hannah Arendt, Reilly, 3.09|
Years after that (2008) I will write the following in an essay about teaching (Restoring points of potentiality: Sideshadowing in elementary classrooms ) that will later be published without this section:
While thinking about sideshadowing and planning, I have also been rereading Hannah Arendt’s The Life of Mind - Thinking - Willing in which she accounts the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in 1960. Arnedt said that she thought she would be seeing a horrific man of evil in that Jerusalem courtroom. Yet, she writes: “The deeds were monstrous, but the doer—at least the very effective one now on trial—was quite ordinary, commonplace and neither demonic nor monstrous” (1978, p. 4). In characterizing Eichmann’s only “notable behavior,” Arendt concludes, “it was not stupidity, but thoughtlessness” (p. 4).
This discussion of evil and mindlessness will later inform my reading of an enacted unit of study about genocide conducted through performative pedagogy that took place in a middle school classroom and became this chapter (.Arendt catalogs the devices of thoughtlessness when she writes: “Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality, that is, against the claim on our thinking attention that all events and facts make by virtue of their existence" (1978, p. 4). In reading Arendt’s list of thoughtlessness devices, I thought again about Roberto. What is Roberto learning in the moments when he is silenced? What are we teaching? Can we afford it?
So what does all this mean?
I am wondering if the linear construction of a history via a time line doesn't overly simplify it, and perhaps even sanitize it, and maybe make it less interesting to students as the important thinking (placing things of relevance next to one another) is already done. Wondering what you think.
Arendt, Hannah. 1978. The life of mind--thinking--willing. NY: Ed Harvest.
Greene, Maxine. 1988. The dialectic of freedom. NY: Teachers College Press.