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On Making On Being Greene

Sun, April 7, 8:00 to 9:30am, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Floor: Mezzanine Level, Cedar


“When you tell a story about your life, it’s not the way you lived it; so you know, once you give it a shape, it’s not the way it was”
Maxine Greene, 2006
The purpose of this presentation is to extend the conversation on the impact of Greene’s life and work using the impassioned narrative she weaved in our recent documentary titled, On Being Maxine Greene (Authors, 2018). There is little doubt that any robust and meaningful conversation on the state of Arts education can not be properly discussed without acknowledgement of Greene’s impact. Advancements in Arts-based inquiry, the aesthetic approach to the Arts, and the virtue of the imagination can all be attributed to Greene’s belief that these are the pathways to transformative pedagogy and social change for a world in need. Her pursuit to “look at things as if they could be otherwise” provides an opening for all of us to imagine a better world. The documentary was recently screened with graduate students in Education at a Canadian University. The motivation to share this documentary was twofold: to introduce new generations to her work and to encourage the use of documentary film production as a method to engage both critically and reflectively on the world in which we live. As research has indicated, media production can provide opportunities for agency, voice and creation that are often related to civic and political issues (Jenkins, 2007).
This presentation will also elaborate on our creative process and aesthetic approach. We will share how the documentary came about based on a four hour recorded interview from 2006, which was some of the last known interview footage of Maxine Greene. The footage features her highly introspective reflections on education, politics, the social imagination, the significance of the arts, and much more. Indeed, it was Maxine Greene’s love of literature and the arts and humanities that helped us to imagine creating a documentary from the narrative fragments of her life. While editing, the countless viewings of Greene’s interview profoundly influenced the creative process. Her voice, mannerisms, passionate dialogue and references to periods in her life helped to develop our “poetic mode” (Nichols, 2010), and informed the aesthetic decisions for visual imagery and soundtrack. In particular, her commentary on social imagination and aesthetic experience impacted much of the editorial decision-making, giving meaning to creating a documentary out of her words and our imaginations. We will also discuss the “crisis of representation,” a term referring to the uncertainty of ever being able to describe the social reality or to fully capture and interpret the lived experience of another (Schwandt, 2007).
It is our sincere hope that in sharing our documentary, it will contribute to the scholarly significance of Maxine Greene’s life and work, and add to the growing collection of books, papers, talks, collections, website, and ongoing conversations about her work for future generations.