Hanan Alexander

Pedagogy of Difference and the Other Face of Liberalism

Drawing on my new book “Reimaging Liberal Education: Affiliation and Inquiry in Democratic Schooling”, this talk will explore the problem of cultivating a critical attitude in pedagogy given difficulties with accounts grounded in both liberal rationalism, on the one hand, and critical social theory, on the other. I offer an alternative approach to education in open, pluralistic, liberal, democracies known as “pedagogy of difference.” It draws on the diversity liberalism of Isaiah Berlin, the dialogical philosophy of Martin Buber, and the other-centered ethics of Emmanuel Levinas. To genuinely know oneself, one must learn to engage others who are different. But to engage others in a meaningful way, one must also be immersed a traditions to which one is heir or with which one chooses to affiliate.

Hanan Alexander is Professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of Haifa, where he serves as Dean of Students and heads both the International School and the Center for Jewish Education. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.