Schools of Thought in Abrahamic Religions of the Levant and Middle East. Pedagogical Knowledge and Teaching Vocation from Medieval to Post-Colonial Times
Call for contributions for a collected volume under the aegis of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization
In confusing times for the world, education represents the only avenue that can carry hope and confidence for a better future. Historians have the responsibility to bring to light examples of notable individuals devoted to the pursuit of pedagogical knowledge and to the vocation of teaching. Examples of thinkers and great educational personalities who have contributed to this edifice by establishing doctrines and founding schools of thought need to be debated and brought to the attention of the broader public at all times, irrespective of ongoing trends and even more so in times of cultural crisis.
The devotion and involvement of such great pedagogues, educators and teachers in the formation of educational institutions in the religiously diverse Levant and Middle East is recounted in many sources of Christian, Jewish and Muslim heritage, which today can be exploited more deeply than before by counterbalancing a deficient academic discourse positing a concept of self-learning with the valuable images of a past in which teachers and pedagogues were cherished for paving the way towards knowledge for their students and disciples.
Consequently, we are deeply interested in the complexity of the educational process that was influenced over the centuries by the birth and evolution of knowledge through outstanding individuals from the principal schools of the Levant and Middle East, from the Medieval to the post-colonial period. The principles of Christian education have more readily been cultivated and espoused through Clement of Alexandria’s seminal opus, Paedagogus. These principles, characteristic of Antiquity, were later incorporated and expanded upon in the Middle Ages, not only within Christianity but also in Judaism through the work of Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) and other Jewish Rabbis, writers, teachers and pedagogues. Similarly, the medieval period in Islam proved highly conducive to the development of pedagogical values, whether through the pen of al-Jahiz (776-868), Ibn Sina (980-1037), Al-Ghazali (1058-1111) or other authors who not only set out their recommendations for the continued cultivation of the teaching vocation, but also laid out fundamental guidelines governing appropriate conduct between teacher and student.
It is interesting to note how this heritage was later received in the Ottoman period and in colonial and post-colonial times: whether these principles were themselves taken onboard by educators or, conversely, were subsequently replaced; and to review what the goals of new educators, teachers and founders of new schools were in this new age.
Changes in teaching practices, and the impact of new pathways for education in the Levant and the Middle East should be analyzed from this perspective, taking into account how the modernization of education and thinking was applied during the colonial period. Conversely, also of interest is whether the new reforms of colonial policies adversely affected or positively supported pedagogues, educators, as well as students themselves. A further issue warrants attention, namely a discussion of the impact of multilingualism in this period, in particular with regard to the broadening of the educational purview through access to materials from other cultures and languages, and also its effect on existing cultural differences and interreligious rivalries. Neither could our inquiry omit the novel perspectives and cultural conflicts brought about by the Christian missions into these areas, and their pervasive influence not only on local educators and pedagogues, but also on the missionaries’ own integration or lack thereof to the local culture and the sphere of local education.
Consequently, the collected volume’s scope will attempt to emphasize the transfer of pedagogical knowledge and teaching vocation from the Middle Ages to the later periods until post-colonial times, with a particular focus on the process of transition into modernity across Christian, Jewish and Muslim schools of thought.
Prospective contributions should touch upon the following key issues:
- Profiles of great pedagogues, intellectuals, founders of Christian, Jewish, Muslim schools in the Middle Ages and the Ottoman and colonial/ post-colonial periods;
- The social position enjoyed by educators; their commitment to imperial policies or their disavowal thereof;
- Pedagogues’ confessional or religious affiliations taken as elements of cultural promotion or marginalization by political domination;
- Patterns of motivational thinking in teacher-student behavior: the importance of persuasion and hard work;
- Aphorisms and sayings as didactic teaching instruments for learners;
- Practices of experimentation with new ways of learning; bidirectional learning, and group-learning as a counterbalance to self-learning;
- Teacher/pedagogue - student/learner affinity within existing interreligious and confessional borders;
- Stories of teachers and masters supporting their students and disciples to overcome stages of educational training as well as social dilemmas;
- The spiritual relationship in the educational environment and on the learning agenda;
- Meditation, prayer and further liturgical or spiritual practices designed to either enlighten the learners’ mind or, respectively, guide toward wisdom and knowledge (i.e., the sciences);
- The stages and hierarchy of education proposed by the teacher and their purpose;
- The transfer of the educational vocation from one generation to another, and the mutations suffered in its social reception from one epoch to another; the teachers’ conflict with the local community.
Titles and abstracts (up to a maximum of 300 words) should be submitted to Catalin-Stefan Popa at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 1st, 2022. Final essays are due by October 31st, 2022. The collected volume will be edited by Catalin-Stefan Popa from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization.