Maxine Greene | Being Wide-awake

These are powerful words and concepts that recur throughout Maxine Greene’s essay.  What could they possibly mean in context? For each concept, what is its opposite? What is the opposite of being wide-awake?

Maxine Greene, 1917—2014
  1. commitment
  2. awareness
  3. consciousness
  4. indifference
  5. mechanical life
  6. the system
  7. agency

Being Wide Awake, what does this mean to Maxine Greene, to you?

What is the moral life of a teacher — your moral life as a teacher?

What does it mean to model for our students commitment, awareness and consciousness?


The problem, most would agree, is not to tell [our students] what to do– but to help them attain some kind of clarity about how to choose, how to decide what to do. And this involves teachers directly, immediately–teachers as persons able to present themselves as critical thinkers willing to disclose their own principles and their own reasons as well as authentic persons living in the world, persons who are concerned–who care…

If teachers are not critically conscious conscious, if they are not awake awake to their own values and commitments (and to the conditions working upon them), if they are not personally engaged with their subject mater and with the world around, I do not see how they can initiate the young into critical questioning or the moral life.

— Maxine Greene, 1978