There are a myriad of themes developed within “Wide-Awakeness and the Moral Life” by Maxine Greene. Some of the biggest themes are incorporating “wide-awakeness” into schools and to live with “eyes wide open,” encourage students to develop their own beliefs and attitudes, morality in schools, hierarchies in schools, cognitive clarity, existential concern, stepping outside of the norm, the golden rule, moral direction, attentiveness to the individual and the everyday life, the responsibility of the teacher as a moral being, and many more. Essentially the primary idea of the assigned reading is that we as teachers have a responsibility to act as moral beings and teach our students to be “wide awake.” This means thinking critically and asking questions and may not follow one set curriculum.
The article employs several examples of evidence to back up her themes and ideas throughout the work. Right off the bat she quotes both “Moral Reform” Henry Thoreau and a quote from Alfred Shutz discussing the idea of “wide-awakeness.” Just as the title suggests, the main two premises of the article are wide awakeness and moral life so having evidence quickly that Thoreau supports her concept of the moral life and that Shutz supports her idea of “wide awakeness” allows Greene to confidently move forward with support. By including these two quotes she gains the readers trust. In addition, Greene references widely supported works such as Antigone, The Doll’s House, Hamlet, and The Plague which further develops her credibility. Furthermore, she quotes numerous people such as Martin Buber, Dewey, Camus, and many more. Lastly, Greene additionally uses the golden rule as a tool to back up her claim. This idea is widely respected and it is hard to find fault in treating others with kindness and the bible making this a valuable tactic in gaining her audience’s trust.
There are numerous perspectives intertwined throughout the article. One thing that stood out to me is that there is definitely a reference to progressive education, especially with the several references to Dewey. Greene calls for a shift where we stray away from tradition and teachers encourage their students to be “wide awake.” This could mean not necessarily following what is traditional, but learning what is interesting to each individual.
My current connection article titled “Studies Link Students’ Boredom to Stress” heavily connects to the idea of “wide-awakeness” and why it is so important and necessary within the classroom. I talk about the relation between boredom and a lack of focus. The author recognizes that when students are bored, they tend to not focus or be engaged with the material which leads to fidgeting or anxiety in the classroom. Being bored and not paying attention leads to students experiencing a cycle of higher and lower energy. Students could be completely zoned out one second and then trying to wake themselves up the next. This affects the prefrontal cortex and can lead students to a feeling of anxiousness or depression. Similarly, students who are already suffering from a bit of anxiety may get bored more easily according to this study so they may need an extra push. Secondly, the article additionally discusses the connection between boredom and dull tasks. This section is particularly interesting because it calls for “reappraising” dull tasks which is very similar to the idea of being “wide awake.” Reappraising is essentially finding ways how the material relates to themselves to make it more interesting as a strategy to combat boredom. The article is highlighting the importance of “wide awakeness” and giving us strategies to help our students achieve it. It discusses how we should attempt to meet our students halfway. Our students need to make an effort to “reappraise” tasks and to live “wide awake” but we as teachers can do our part by attempting to relate the topics back to our students to make it more interesting for them.