It was a joy to read the bell hooks text for last week on #moocmooc (Chapter 1 of Teaching to Transgress) and find Thich Nhat Hahn mentioned in bell hooks’ text. I highly recommend his work, True Love especially. bell hooks’ emphasis on the need for engaged pedagogy to address spiritual as well as intellectual development is very valuable.
Kris Shaffer wrote of that this week, and of the way academia seems to have expunged the spirit. Talk of the spirit, or the soul is viewed by many as “flaky”. But there seems to be an artificial dichotomy between a materialist and a spiritual view that leaves little room for any understanding between the two poles. But there is a sense, present in Kris’s post, that the spiritual infuses the material, though it can even be risky to mention it. For some the spiritual is the elephant in the room.
Thich Nhat Hahn has written eloquently about the value of meditation in learning. I am currently exploring how the introduction of yoga and meditation practices into teenagers’ lives can help to improve their well-being, and their learning. (Some call it mindfulness, perhaps to slip it under the materialist radar). There are strong indications form research and stronger indications from experience, that the practice of yoga, the physical work and the breathing and meditation techniques that form such an important part of it, tends to help people become more able to listen, more self-aware, and more autonomous. This autonomy is what makes it possible for them to be more present in and engage more fully with the different social spaces and groups they inhabit.
This weekend was an exciting weekend. A group of us (Charlotta, Becky, Alan, Jo, Cata, Candace , Tristessa) came together to start to discuss a new project: a secondary school informed by yoga, which can be understood as a science of well-being. Critical pedagogy was a strong clear thread that ran through the conversations, and as might be expected when a bunch of teachers come together, for some of the day we were sharing stories of the damage done by the banking approach. We also talked about how difficult it can be to use “dodgy” words like “joy”, “spirit” and “love” in pedagogical contexts, but more importantly about how using them can be transformative. We are working on structuring the vision that arose from the conversations.