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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teachers and students : an Arendtian approach towards education Chen, Jialin


This research is conducted with a conceptual and philosophical approach in the humanities field. In this thesis, I put forward claims and objections, and argue them from reading literature including articles, books, fictions, from my own experiences, other people’s experiences, and examples. I hope to better understand the teacher-student relationship in terms of faith, love, authority and responsibility and to provide a way of thinking for both teachers and students to decide what to teach, how to teach, what to learn, and how to learn. In contemporary education, it has become common that teaching or learning is driven from the perspective of the students. The idea behind the emphasis on students lies in the pursuit for “equalization” between teachers and students. However, it is true that teaching or learning also involves the process of students being taught what they do not want or they do not know if they want it or not. Conflicts thus emerge and a new understanding of teacher-student relationship is required. Inspired by Hannah Arendt, I build up a theoretical framework about humans and an Arendtian society. I claim that human beings are defined by singularity and plurality, based on which I define an Arendtian society as a space where the private space of home and the public space of the world coexist. Within this framework, I argue that school should serve as both a private space and a public space. I explore the relationship between teacher’s authority and teacher’s responsibility and argue that teacher’s authority is necessary for the education process. I define teacher’s responsibility as a collective responsibility while student’s responsibility is a personal responsibility. Then, I discuss the problems of teacher-centered and student-centered education and propose a decentralization in education. My research falls back to the concept of faith in humanity and love of the world. I explore both teacher’s and student’s faith in each other and teacher’s love for students and conclude that faith and love make education possible.

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