Teaching to Transgress (20)

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Students naturally identify with good teachers and value their knowledge highly. A possible side-effect, however, is that the student may become reluctant to “go against” the teaching of their mentor/hero/professor. This reluctance occurs with respect to individual teachers as well as to society as a whole. To prevent stagnation of knowledge and of social progress, one useful strategy for teachers is to teach “transgression” as an integral part of their practice. Teaching to Transgress actively questions society's “received wisdom” — it tests and rebels against it. The scope of the transgression should be wide and include all of a society's rules, prejudices, and attitudes. Given the strength and vigor of societal maintenance, Teaching to Transgress must consider active mechanisms that work toward change. The impacts of change need to be carefully evaluated, of course, because not all changes, even well-intentioned ones, work well. Teaching to Transgress helps instills the idea that societies must change. It also carries responsibility for promoting stability against change when that's appropriate. At the same time, however, the need for challenging the status quo has probably never been greater.

Text: John Thomas