Community is essential to the learning process, although I am concerned about how people with paranoid disorders would be included or would include themselves in any community at all. The teacher-focused approach of “objectivist” teaching is as flawed as the “subjectivist,” “flipped classroom” where the students become the conduits for what is acceptable knowledge in the classroom.
This delicate balance between subjectivist teaching and objectivist teaching resonates with me on a deep level. When I was working on my dissertation, my adviser told me to pick a subject (subjectively) that would fascinate me for the rest of my career, because the rest of my career would be an (objective) elaboration of that subject. Now that I have some perspective, I can see the wisdom of this because even though I didn’t finish my dissertation or get a PhD, my life still uses the subject-matter I was interested in on a daily basis. It is my passion for the subject that drives my life, even though it is more my subjective, less professional, self that lives it out.
But there is another fascinating part about the tension between subjective-student-focused and objective-teacher-focused modes of education. I am reading the Meditations of Teresa of Avila. The book is a devotional based on The Interior Castle, which the famous saint Teresa of Avila write 500 years ago, maybe more. The author of the meditations Megan Don, adapts Avila’s work for today’s audience. Listen to what she says of the soul and the balance between mysticism and consensus reality:
“The soul contains a complex array of all our faculties, including memories, rational thought, and intuitive and psychic abilities. To have all these faculties come into alignment on an issue is often a very difficult task. […] Most people do not experience a balance among all these faculties. The universal paradigm of the mystic, however, is one of unity, encompassing all faculties and realities, both inner and outer. How do we experience this unification that the true mystic experiences? Through surrendering to the spirit.” (Meditations with Teresa of Avila: Journey into the Sacred 21)
Really, it is rare to see objectivist and subjectivist modalities come together, but this is what we must strive for. There is such a thing as objectivity and it is central to critical thinking. But because objectivity privileges the white male perspective, subjectivities need to be honored as much as objectivity.
When it comes to knowledge in the classroom, teacher and student form each other in the divine interplay between the subject, which should be centered, and the people engaging it – both teacher and students. Let’s let the subject speak.