This article contributes to the growing literature on Walter Benjamin as an educational philosopher. In particular, it reassesses the claim made by prominent Benjaminian scholars that education can be defined as a form of awakening. To further develop this central educational claim, the article turns to Benjamin’s early essay “Outline of the Psychophysical Problem” and in particular, its emphasis on the existential categories of nearness and distance in relation to corporeal substance (Körper) and collective body (Leib). Subsequently, Benjamin’s reflections on various educational practices are evaluated in terms of how well they balance nearness and distance to produce the ethical, political, epistemological, and embodied dimensions of freedom. The dialectic that emerges between nearness and distance can become a powerful interpretive lens for understanding Benjamin’s criticisms of instruction and indoctrination while also giving new insight into his embrace of proletarian children’s theater and epic theater as preferred educational practices.

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