Hi Maha! I’m emerging from the cocoon of work to re-engage with the world. 🙂
I love this:
“It made me think of the great concept in Islam of giving charity while letting the recipient have the upper hand (literally and metaphorically to preserve their pride)”
This reminds me of all of Jesus’s variations on the idea “the last shall be first.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of humility in education. At least in the educational systems I’ve encountered, the teacher has a role somewhat analogous to the problematic charity-giver you describe here – the teacher is given authority over the student, certainly, and is frequently constructed as superior to the student. It seems essential to me to break down that construction so that the teacher can interact with the student as an equal. Of course, there are limits to this – I’m responsibility for my students’ safety, for example, so I have to retain my authority in that respect – but it seems to me that teacher-student equality in a spiritual and/or political sense is a necessary aim for a pedagogy that would be just.
I’ve encountered this idea in pedagogy (in Christian Moore’s work on creating empowering classrooms, particularly for students who need extra emotional support) as “surrendering the one-up.” The idea is that the teacher is usually – in reality or in the students’ perception – “one-up” in the relationship, while the students are “one-down.” Taking steps to “surrender” this advantage to the students, then, will play a key role in the students’ empowerment. I’ve done this in my own classroom, but perhaps not as systematically and effectively as I might.
Of course, the charity-giver operates in a significantly different context, but you’ve given me food for thought here for my own practice.