By Jacques Derrida
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Extra info for Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas
In the quality classroom, where Zeus’ children Athene and Dionysos have a place, students are involved in decision-making, take leadership roles, initiate action and experience responsibility. They don’t need to satisfy their need for power in ways that damage themselves and others. The teacher’s Zeus energy keeps the teacher in charge, even when she conducts her classes in a radically democratic fashion. There are times when we need Zeus’ authority to deal with crisis, or to keep the classroom safe.
For one thing, Dionysos has no respect for authority and no regard for social expectations, and schools are supposed to turn children into good citizens. He is the god of growth and go-with-the-ﬂow and do-my-own-thing. He brings both joy and grief. He is the god of the adrenaline charge, the god of tragedy, of feeling, of play, of suffering, of exhilaration, of charisma, of performance, of ecstasy, of newness, of freedom. It is hardly necessary to point out that there is not much ecstasy apparent in schools.
Once the Apollo-inﬂated principal or teacher sees the way things are, he or she has little tolerance for those who cannot. He (usually he) wants things to be obvious, and has little patience with ambiguity and illusion. He is inclined to insist that people accept his assessment of a situation, because its reasonableness is perfectly clear to him and those who can’t see this must be stupid or bloody-minded. Apollo’s pathology also emerges in his hostility to women, whom he marginalizes as trivial, intuitive, emotional, sensual and irrational.
Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas by Jacques Derrida