Laurenz Volkmann, Oded Zipory (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)
Education between hope and despair
Online only (Zoom)
Monday Jena Time: 14.00-15.30
Jerusalem Time: 15:00-16:30 (GMT +3)
Oded Zipory, PhD
Laurenz Volkmann, PhD
This tandem-taught course is a fully online course, connecting students from Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena, Germany, with students from Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel – exchanging and negotiating different cultural perspectives on an extremely relevant topic for future teachers (of English and other subjects).
Details regarding oral exam requirements and course assignments will be announced soon.
Education - as an activity oriented towards the future - necessarily involves hope. Although education is sometimes considered good in itself, there is still no denying its close connection to future goods such as professional success, social and economic status. Some of the future goods that education promises are related to the child as an individual - the development of intellectual skills or a moral compass, and some are aimed at the future of society as a whole - promoting justice, equality or tolerance. Be that as it may, since the educator anticipates and directs to tomorrow - hope is necessary. And indeed, it has been said that education, which is essentially hopeful, is an "arbitrary proclamation of optimism" (March 1975), that ‘hope is the essence of teaching’, and that ‘teaching is [. . .] in every respect a profession of hope” (Edgoose 2009).
Despite the centrality of hope in educational practice, philosophers of education began to explore the concept only recently. Even in philosophy as a whole, hope has been discussed very little, and was mostly viewed as a theological question on the one hand and psychological on the other. During the last twenty years though, the picture began to change with new and fascinating scholarship being published. In addition to this, and perhaps not incidentally, despair has also recently aroused philosophical and political interest. A relatively small yet thought-provoking part of the new research of despair, even emphasizes some of its potential positive aspects.
Throughout the course we will read studies and articles about hope and despair from the following fields and disciplines - philosophy of education, political philosophy, philosophy of mind and Christian and Jewish theology. We will read a number of educational ethnographies literary pieces. All the texts are in English.
These are some of the questions we will address:
- What is hope? What distinguishes it from other mental attitudes such as desire, will or expectation?
- What are the connections between hope and faith? And more in general, what are the transcendental characteristics of hope?
- Is secular hope possible? Is there an optimistic atheism?
- What is radical hope? Is it possible to hope for something we don't know?
- How is hope expressed in the educational act?
- Is it realistic to hope? And if so, what in what ways?
- What is despair and how should it be dealt with educationally?
- Are there positive elements in despair? If so, which ones?
- What are the problems with future-oriented education? And is it possible to educate without being oriented towards the future?
- What are the kinds of educational hope? And can they be “given” to students?