Perennial Educational Tensions: Saint Gregory Palamas’s Approach to Byzantium’s Exothen and Kath’imas Educational Traditions & Its Consequences for Thinking with Byzantium in a Contemporary Context

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Penney, Matthew
Education , Philosophy of Education , History of Education , Byzantine Education , Epistemology , Gregory Palamas , Exothen , Secular , Pagan , Kath'imas , Religious , Spiritual , Tension , Byzantium , 14th century
The purpose of this dissertation is to help fill a long-standing gap in the field of history of education with respect to studies on the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium. In particular, this study examines a crucial episode in the thousand-year tension between the exothen (pagan/secular) and kath’imas (Christian/spiritual) educational traditions within Byzantium. Gregory Palamas, the Orthodox Christian saint and theologian, emerges from the mid-fourteenth century Hesychast Controversy with a clear principle for balancing the relationship of exothen and kath’imas education, which in theory, is ratified as the official position of the Orthodox Church in Byzantium thereafter. There are four studies in this work representing the interplay of the three areas of academic specialization required for a comprehensive examination of this topic: historical, theological, and educational. Study 1 is an educational history of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and of Gregory Palamas and his detractors, which situates the historical and educational context of the entire topic. Study 2 examines the theoretical framework of a dual-epistemology that Palamas is employing when examining the purpose of education, the two types of Byzantine education—exothen and kath’imas, and the respective methodologies pertaining to their distinct areas of competency. Study 3 applies the principles of Palamas’s theoretical framework through examining the three aspects of Palamas’s educational philosophy. It also provides a description of the content of the exothen and kath’imas educational traditions of Byzantium. Study 4 provides the model for a hybrid curriculum theory based on two dominant schools of late twentieth century curricular thought in order to illustrate the parallel tensions in modern discussions with that of Palamas’s fourteenth century exothen and kath’imas traditions. The study highlights the perennial nature of the questions and tensions that surround education and curriculum theory.
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