Fighting the plague: “Difficult” knowledge as sirens’ song in teacher education


Difficult knowledge
radical love
structural violence
teacher education
terror management theory

How to Cite

van Kessel, C., & Saleh, M. (2020). Fighting the plague: “Difficult” knowledge as sirens’ song in teacher education. Journal Of Curriculum Studies Research, 2(2), 1-20.


Of the many plagues that affect communities today, a particularly insidious one is indifference and depersonalization. This plague has been articulated by Albert Camus and then taken up in an educational context by Maxine Greene. In this article we, the authors, respond to Greene’s call to co-compose curricula with our students to fight this plague. Recognizing the role of difficult knowledge as well as conscious and unconscious defenses, we develop an approach to “diversity” harmonious with radical love during these troubled times of conflict and increased visibility of hatred. Through a weaving of our experiential, embodied knowledge with theory, we consider how we might invite students to consider contemporary, historical, and ongoing inequity and structural violence. Like Sirens luring sailors to precarious shores, we seek to entice teachers and students to the difficult knowledge they might otherwise avoid as all of us together consider our ethical responsibilities to each other.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (