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Creating Local "Public Spaces" in Schools: Insights from Hannah Arendt and Maxine Greene

Aaron Schutz
Curriculum Inquiry
Vol. 29, No. 1 (Spring, 1999), pp. 77-98
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3185902
Page Count: 22
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Creating Local "Public Spaces" in Schools: Insights from Hannah Arendt and Maxine Greene
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Abstract

Hannah Arendt and Maxine Greene present similar visions of human freedom and possibility that hold great potential for the creation of more emancipatory school communities. This article argues that there are lacunae in the perspectives of both, however. By bringing Arendt and Greene together, I hope to exploit a synergy between their writings, each contributing aspects that seem missing in the writings of the other. At the same time, while Greene is cited often in the educational literature, she is often not engaged at the level she deserves as one of our most prominent comprehensive contemporary theorists of education. Taking Greene seriously requires us, I think, to engage her project critically, and as a whole-an effort toward which this article only modestly contributes. Arendt's work provides an extremely productive standpoint from which we might grapple with her achievement. Finally, this article aims to clarify some of the complexities entailed in Arendt and Greene's effort to promote the creation of what they call "public spaces." Their effort to "open spaces" draws upon complex assumptions about the nature of human beings and collective action. If we truly hope to transform their theoretical musings into concrete educational actions, we must grapple with the tensions that lie at the core of each of their writings. Ultimately, this article does not attempt to provide a detailed model for the creation of public spaces in schools, however. Arendt and Greene's visions of the "public" provide not blueprints for action but perspectives from which to rethink and retool, continually, the current practices of our myriad situated educational efforts.

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