The Liminal Classroom

“What,” I asked, “are we to make of Plato’s attempts to define justice?” A chill descended. Noses burrowed into The Republic. One student hesitantly volunteered a comment; another offered a passing observation. Something resembling a discussion followed, but most of the remarks betrayed the superficiality of the students’ engagement.

They were eager to discuss their favorite movies and books, censorship, or the problem of date rape, but they shrank from the seeming irrelevance of Plato to their lives. Often the brightest students were the most subdued. Their occasional remarks showed intelligence and sophistication, yet every gesture and tone of voice conveyed boredom. —Mark C. Carnes, The Liminal Classroom (Chronicle)

I’ve had magical classroom moments like this, but I can’t always manufacture them on demand. Fascinating!

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