23 Feb Insurgent Instruction: Absurdity
This is the final portion of this series on Insurgent Instruction. The examination and investigation into Insurgent Instruction has been purposely brief in order that this particular approach to instructional design and delivery does not become prescriptive in nature. There are already enough curriculum and instruction approach which minutely map out their fixes and philosophies. For Insurgent Instruction to truly be effective in the classrooms, it must be only a framework. Classroom teachers must be able to adapt and evolve the point of view with each student, class, school year, and administrator. Since the goal is success, not merely survival, flexibility is fate.
The final aspect of Insurgent Instruction is Absurdity. This, in itself, may seem absurd at first glance, but given a little time to blossom, it will make more sense within this context. By definition, absurdity is generally located between the philosophies of existentialism and nihilism. One of the best examples of this is Albert Camus’s seminal essay, “The Myth of Sisyphus.” However, this particular philosophical and literary piece does seem to lean towards a fatalistic nihilism on several re-readings.
A better understanding for Insurgent Instruction may be the classic film Zorba the Greek. The film is based on the novel written by Nikos Kazantzakis. The toiling of Zorba seems fruitless when the British landowner must accept bankruptcy in the end. The final scene is the best. When his British employer asks Zorba what they should do, Zorba gives a seemingly glib, but deeply wise response. Zorba answers, “We dance, boss.”
This may come across as Quixotic, because that is what absurdity in the classroom is. Absurdity in this sense is founded squarely upon humor. Existentially it informs our point of view that we, in the end, must decide to go forth in either happiness or gloom. From the nihilistic perspective, we are reminded with absurdity that we will probably never see the full fruits of our labors…And that is okay.
In many ways, attempting to reform education outside of the classroom is very much a Sisyphean task. It is a zero-sum event. However, inside of our classrooms, it is a completely different game. And it is a game. Those who tire of playing first, lose. Consider this, in any given school year a teacher can positively touch the lives of over one hundred students directly… more, indirectly.
In some ways, utilizing Insurgent Instruction provides an opportunity for the classroom teacher to play the role of the Pied Piper. In the end, the Piper makes off with the town children. Taken symbolically, classroom teachers had a more profound effect on students’ lives than their parents/guardians/care givers outside of the school.
Take this wonderful opportunity to teach. To teach the students to think, to question, and to wonder at the awe of this experience we call life. The content knowledge will fall into place. We can sneak it in when the students are in awe and wonderment of this life. Curriculums come and go, as do instructional techniques, policy wonks, and administrators. However, two things remain constant…teachers and students.