Teachers as Absurd Heroes: Camus’ Sisyphus and the Promise of Rebellion

Educational Philosophy and Theory 48 (6) (2016)
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Inspired by Camus’ portrayal of Sisyphus, this essay examines the act of teaching as an absurd profession, one that faces numerous obstacles and challenges and continually falls short of its intended goals. I begin my analysis by demonstrating that Camus’ understanding of the absurd was heavily influenced by Nietzsche’s conception of nihilism. I argue that for Camus the sense of absurdity comes from the conflict between humans’ longing for order and meaning and the disorder and meaninglessness that we experience in our daily lives. Next, I show that Camus’ understanding of absurdity can help us make sense of the recent wave of educational reform. More fundamentally, I argue that that the existential conditions of schooling that many teachers have to negotiate daily are themselves absurd in Camus’ sense of the term. In the last part of this article, I take a close look at how a number of teachers are attempting to resist and even rebel against the new educational mandates.



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Citations of this work

Nietzsche (as) educator.Babette Babich - 2019 - Educational Philosophy and Theory 51 (9):871-885.
Camus, habitat and the art of seeing.Aidan Hobson - 2017 - Educational Philosophy and Theory 50 (13):1249-1258.

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References found in this work

The gay science.Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - 1974 - New York,: Vintage Books. Edited by Walter Arnold Kaufmann.
The absurd.Thomas Nagel - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (20):716-727.
The Myth of Sisyphus.Albert Camus - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (1):104-107.
The Rebel.Albert Camus & Anthony Bower - 2000 - Penguin Modern Classics.
The Rebel.Albert Camus, Herbert Read & Anthony Bower - 1955 - Philosophical Review 64 (1):150-152.

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