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On the Spirit of Patriotism: Challenges of a “Pedagogy of Discomfort”


by Michalinos Zembylas & Megan Boler — August 12, 2002

Undoubtedly, the terrorist attacks and the U.S. retaliatory strikes have brought to the surface a variety of feelings, some latent, some unfamiliar, for the United States. In many ways, the new “patriotism” that emerged sparked old debates about the meaning and value of “patriotism” as well as the emotions involved. What is the role of educators in helping students to deal with these emotions and face the challenges of critical emotional literacy? We begin by defining how a “pedagogy of discomfort” engages students in facing the contradictory and emotionally complex dimensions of patriotism. We then outline the challenges faced by educators who wish to engage students in learning to “see beyond nationalism,” given that the American mass media has systematically enacted a “media blackout” with respect to media coverage of peace protests and dissent that have occurred within the U.S. and internationally. Third, we describe how a pedagogy of discomfort can resituate emotions of patriotism in the aftermath of 9/11 within the context of what Walter Mignolo calls “critical cosmopolitanism.”


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 12, 2002
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11007, Date Accessed: 8/20/2017 4:09:02 AM

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About the Author
  • Michalinos Zembylas
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    MICHALINOS ZEMBYLAS is an adjunct professor of teacher education at Michigan State University. His research interests are in the areas of emotions in teaching and learning, science education, curriculum theory, and postmodernism/poststructuralism. His recent articles have appeared in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, International Journal of Education and the Arts, and Educational Philosophy and Theory.
  • Megan Boler
    Virginia Tech
    E-mail Author
    MEGAN BOLER is an associate professor of teaching and learning and will be Interim Director of Women's Studies at Virginia Tech. Her work has focused on the politics of emotion in pedagogy, cultural and media studies, and philosophy of technology. Her publications include Feeling Power: Emotions and Education (Routledge, 1999); an edited collection Troubling, Disturbing Silence: Democratic Dialogoue in Education (forthcoming Peter Lang) and numerous essays in such journals as Hypatia; Cultural Studies; and Educational Theory.
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