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Saying Yes to Life: The Search for the Rebel Teacher

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Education and the Environment book series (PSEE)


The chapter starts with suicide and ends in rebellious possibility. We begin by highlighting Albert Camus’s consideration of suicide, and in particular his assertion that in the act of choosing not to exercise our ever-present radical freedom to commit suicide there exists both a negation, saying no to suicide, and an exaltation, of saying yes to life. Camus’s purpose in this is to have us actively consider why we are choosing to stay alive and, as such, rebel against the possibility of suicide—and with purpose, choosing to say yes to life. We then focus on the distinction Camus draws between revolution and rebellion to allow us to more deeply explore his concept of the rebel and the shared role that negation and exaltation play therewith. By exploring Camus’s existentialist concept of freedom in order to name both a particular negation and exaltation for our times, as he was doing for his own time, we meet Camus’s challenge to consider, name, and act upon that which we choose to say yes to. The chapter concludes with an exploration of implications for environmental educators who want to adopt, and build upon the initial work presented in this chapter in pursuit of becoming creative, rebel teachers.


  • Education
  • Environmental
  • Ecological
  • Sustainability
  • Camus
  • Existential
  • Pedagogy

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  1. 1.

    Camus wrote The Myth of Sisyphus 5 years earlier.

  2. 2.

    For instance, and to push Camus’s thought here, at the individual level if you cannot tell me why you are alive/what you are saying yes to then potentially your murder be allowable.

  3. 3.

    And murder of myriad species as well.

  4. 4.

    It is clear that there are cultures and peoples within the species that are more and less responsible for the destruction wrought globally. This chapter is likely aimed at those peoples that have historically taken, and continue to take, a “colonizing” position towards the more-than-human world.

  5. 5.

    Note: This extends Abram’s concept of the more-than-human to include the uniquenesses and individualities of said members, hence the pluralized form.

  6. 6.

    Care is taken not to reconstruct a subject/object dualism both to remove human exceptionalism and maintain existentialist integrity.


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  • Newton, M., & Hay, P. (2007). The forests. Hobart: Self-published.

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  • Sartre, J.-P. (1992). Notebooks for an ethics (D. Pellauer, Trans.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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Correspondence to Sean Blenkinsop .

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Blenkinsop, S., Morse, M. (2017). Saying Yes to Life: The Search for the Rebel Teacher. In: Jickling, B., Sterling, S. (eds) Post-Sustainability and Environmental Education. Palgrave Studies in Education and the Environment. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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