Academic journal article Journal of Thought

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil: Education, Humiliation, and Learning to Be Together

Academic journal article Journal of Thought

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil: Education, Humiliation, and Learning to Be Together

Article excerpt

Introduction

Imagine, if you will, a certain scenario. A common interaction with, perhaps, uncommon features that might say something about silences, sightings, knowingness, and the potentialities of being human together. Jim, in the set up, is an ordinary father, if there is such a thing. He is harried by life's demands. He is conscientious, hard working, a rule-follower. He takes great pride in fitting in, in "making the world as it should be," in knowing his children. His son, Daniel, is twelve. Daniel is slow. He is not slow in intellectual understanding or in social interaction. He simply lives at a different pace of life. Daniel notices things. He can walk by an old dilapidated house, one toward which we might not offer a second glance, and notice a cat on the porch, a broken window that looks like a crescent moon, and a gray pipe sticking out of the grass. Insignificant items, and yet ones of which Daniel is acutely aware. In our scenario it is a typical Monday morning. Jim is trying to get himself and his children, Daniel included, out the door to school and work. Everyone is ready and standing at the door, but Daniel, as usual, is conspicuously absent. Jim barks down the hallway, "hurry up, Daniel. We'll be late!" After a minute or two, Jim walks down the hallway to Daniel's room. There is Daniel, still stuffing things into his backpack and at the same time trying to find his second shoe. Jim impatiently hurries him along, rushing all out the door to their places of destination. Another harried morning, complete with the annoyances of Daniel lagging behind, but accomplished, completed, passed over.

Our scenario, to this point, seems not all that unlike the routines of modern households around the world. But here, let's imagine a turn. Jim, as he travels home from work later that day, reflects on the morning. Why this reflection? For any number of reasons, but as he does his attention is drawn toward the frustration he felt toward Daniel. "Daniel is always lagging behind." "He seems to live in a distracted world, never really 'getting down to business.'" "What will I do with this kid?," Jim wonders. At this same moment, Jim begins to ask other questions, "I wonder how Daniel felt this morning when I was rushing him out the door?" "I wonder if he picks up on my frustration toward him?" "I wonder if the tensions of rushing out the door occupied his thoughts today, as they have mine?" When Jim arrived home, he sought out Daniel and asked him about the morning. "How does it feel when we are hurrying you out the door?" Daniel's reply was at the surface. "It makes me feel bad. Everyone else can get ready on time, but I'm always late. It makes me feel like something's wrong with me." This response sparked another thirty minutes of dialogue. Jim and Daniel talked about the fact that running late did not mean that Daniel was "bad." Perhaps he was simply operating on different premises of importance. Daniel noticed things. That slowed him down. Getting ready for school that morning he may have noticed an aspect of the picture on his wall that he hadn't before or a hidden compartment in his backpack. Paying attention to those details ate up time and made him late. Jim and Daniel talked about the possibility that this "noticing" was important. While many others may arrive at their destinations on time, how much had they missed of life along the way? So the conversation continued. In the end, Jim and Daniel talked of the importance of time constraints, but also of the unique wonder in Daniel's ability to notice the world as he walked along the road. In this exchange we can imagine a shift in relation. We anticipate a connection, a closeness created by seeing and hearing. But, more than a simple connection might we also anticipate a shaping of lives, perhaps even character, by the ways Daniel and Jim were together?

Among the many possible discussion points within this scenario I would like to focus on three. …

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