Exploring Self Toward Expanding Teaching, Teacher Education and Practitioner Research: Volume 34

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Table of contents

(15 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xvii
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Abstract

It's a secret hidden in plain sight, we teach who we are. Palmer (2017)

In an effort to reinvigorate the art of teaching, educational theorists have called for teachers to learn how to teach with their “whole self” – to be with and teach their students from a position of mindful awareness, authenticity, truthfulness, compassion, and courage (Palmer, 2017; Ramsey & Fitzgibbons, 2005). The skills that support one in mindfully knowing oneself well and being able to creatively and consciously bring aspects of one's knowledge expertise and identity into acts of teaching and learning in the classroom in an authentic way has been labeled the “unnamed domain” in teacher knowledge (e.g., Taylor, 2016). In this chapter, we extend work on a conceptual, evidence-based framework for this unnamed domain. We propose that the formation of teachers who are calm in body in challenging situations, clear in mind when making decisions in complex classroom environments, and kind in approach to interactions with others is one way of describing development in this domain of teacher identity/expertise. Furthermore, we posit that mindfulness, compassion, and other contemplative practices can be useful for developing expertise in it. We present conceptual and empirical findings from a series of studies we have done on the antecedents and consequences of teachers' calmness, clarity, and kindness in the classroom and discuss directions for future research.

Abstract

In this chapter, the authors explore the “hidden curriculum” that is enacted when the teaching-self transmits to the learning-self, the being aspects of the teacher. It is proposed that these aspects are communicated through discursive and nondiscursive materials. The latter includes energetic, emotional, and gestural “languages.” An argument is made that the current, modernist conceptions and practices of education that predominantly focus on covering and downloading curriculum materials do not create openings for exploring the being aspects of teachers and learners. Moreover, acknowledging Avraham Cohen's thesis, “We teach who we are, and that's the problem,” the authors explore the hurtful and damaging influence of the teachers' “Shadow materials.” An argument is made for the moral imperative of teachers' (or anyone who is in a position of influencing others) self-study to minimize or prevent hurtful and damaging influences that could have a long-lasting impact on the students' or learners' self-formation. The authors propose the method of inner work, integrated with contemplative inquiry and practices, as a way for educators to work with the materials of consciousness. Inner work largely involves working through psychological projections, introjections, and entanglements that permeate one's inner world. Some details of inner work are offered, including how to facilitate a dialogue between the parts or subselves in one's inner world that are in tension and conflict. It has been further proposed that this kind of inner work would lay the necessary foundation for becoming kinder, caring, and more compassionate human beings.

Abstract

In this chapter, I will draw upon East-Asian wisdom traditions, quantum, transpersonal, and integral theory to posit consciousness as fundamental. In doing so, the relationship between Self and reality will be articulated as nondual. I will argue that knowledge about the nature of Self is both an educational entitlement and learning process. Such understanding is generally thwarted by the impact of scientific materialism and behaviorism on educational orthodoxy, which instead promulgate a separate sense of self with destructive individual and collective consequences. Moving from philosophical theorization to application to teacher education, I will argue that a massive program of deconditioning and unlearning is necessary within education and show how a module I teach, “Responding Mindfully to Challenging Behavior,” attempts to do some of this work via a focus on “discipline.” The focus of the module invites us to question the nature of Self when difficulties arise. As explored, this is often a conditioned self with automatic reactions that can shift toward a “witnessing consciousness” when experiential learning and contemplative practices are integrated with theories of human flourishing.

Abstract

In this chapter, we examine conundrums of self-study of practice (S-SP) research that emerge from positioning this work in a space that calls for a critical rethinking of ontology and takes seriously the work of postmodernist philosophy. We explore aspects of self in relationship to the other – concerns, transformations, representations positioning, and growth – when ideas emerge in the midst of practice. We begin with an investigation of conundrums of Self in relationship to Other where both exist in continual process of BECOMING based in the work of Deleuze. We then consider the self within the research framework of S-SP methodology. As part of this examination, we consider key characteristics of this methodology in relationship to the self in practice that is the orientation to ontology and dialogue as the process of coming-to-know in this space. Next, we consider the conundrum of particularity and wholeness in the exploration of tacit and practical knowledge. We use works by Clandinin and others to probe the ways particularities and wholeness interact with tacit understandings that entangle and merge into embodied knowing. We also articulate the conundrum of the ethical for the Self and Other in S-SP Research and other forms of intimate scholarship.

Abstract

Self-study in teacher education practices is rife with tensions revolving around self and its position in relation to teaching practice and research. In this chapter, I explore and demonstrate these tensions building on Schwab's practical orientation and following its developments in narrative research and self-study. In particular, I focus on the role of self-knowledge in my work as a teacher educator as it has featured in my own self-studies. To present this, I rely on relational teacher education, a framework that I have developed and has guided my living and teaching as a teacher educator. Overall, this progression will demonstrate my belief that self-study is a crucial vehicle for developing self-knowledge; however, it ought to be seen as a means for relational teaching practice and not merely as an end.

Abstract

In this chapter, we flesh out a new ecological account of the self of the teacher. We contrast this view with more traditional approaches that either stress the subjectivity of the teacher at the expense of the world or emphasize the other more than the self and hence leave no room for subjectivity. On the contrary, to an ecological approach, the self of the teacher is constituted through relating to her own subject matter. This involves a thing-centered approach according to which the teacher is defined in terms of drawing attention to something in the world out of love for this world.

Abstract

Our individual and collective humanness is integral to the pursuit of learning and, thus, has the potential to bring much richness to discussions in teacher education. Unfortunately, education continues to prioritize cognitive ways of knowing, often at the expense of affective and spiritual knowledge. Drawing on the work of Parker Palmer (1993, 1997, 1998a, 1998b, 2004, 2017) who advocates for integrated ways of knowing and being and Manulani Meyer (2013) who draws on Indigenous knowledges to suggest holographic epistemology as meaning-making, I embrace a photo-poetic method to challenge the tendency in education to distance our minds from our emotional and ethereal selves. Situated within a/r/tography, this inquiry explores the capacity of artful ways of being to overcome the culture of disconnectedness in education.

Abstract

The educational self is a construct derived from cultural psychology that attempts to account for the role of educational experiences in the construction and elaboration of the self. It conceptualizes of self as a semiotic process that is both dialogical and polyphonic from its origin, yet grounded in some historically and culturally derived shared meanings and practices. The purpose of this chapter is to situate discussion of the educational self in the context of the United States and to explore its implications for teaching, teacher education, and self-study of practice via an examination of the life trajectory of the author that is both retrospective and introspective. An argument is put forward that examining the educational self represents a promising starting point for understanding and studying one's own teaching or teacher education practices.

Abstract

This chapter brings the ancient dichotomy between vita activa and vita contemplativa – a traditional separation between lay life and religious life – to the realm of different states of mind that form the experience of self in contemporary times. Instead of seeing the above dichotomy necessarily within the secular-religious spectrum, I explore it as two pulls within self and, in particular, within a teacher's life. One pull concerns the gravity of day-to-day that William James described as a habitual, half-awake state, very much shaped by external conditions, such as schooling systems in contemporary times. In this half-awake state, self experiences a lack of agency, and is defined by external expectations and standards. The other pull is the elevation toward what Viktor Frankl called meaning and Paul Tillich viewed as ultimate concerns. This pull need not necessarily be conceptualized as religious. It can be secular and/or grounded in agnosticism and merely reflect a sincere wish to lead an agentic, authentic, and meaningful life. This pull can appear in the most prosaic situations within a teacher's life, calling her/him to resist the gravity of half-asleep functioning and survival. Self is, essentially, a site of struggle and reconciliation between these two pulls, experienced as fluctuating states of the embodied mind. This chapter comprises mostly of an existential-phenomenological description of “what it is like to be a self” in the world, exemplified in the case of being a teacher in contemporary times. After describing the two pulls, I will make some suggestions as to the need for teacher education that explicitly caters to the contemplative self through contemplative practices.

Abstract

In the 1950s, Einstein predicted that if humankind is to survive, we will need a substantially new manner of thinking. He believed that our task in life must be to widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its infinite beauty. The combined disciplines of mindfulness, ecopsychology, and sustainability education offer humanity a chance to develop this new way of thinking and being in the world. In this chapter, I describe my experience of teaching and designing curriculum that integrates contemplative practices with sustainability education in the space of higher education. The course I will be discussing, where nature-based mindfulness activities are offered, is called “MindBody Wellness.” As a part of the course, it is hoped that students will cultivate an expanded vision of the self—one known as the “ecological self”—a term coined in the 1980s. The ecological self is perceived to be a wide, expansive, or field-like sense of self, which ultimately includes all life forms, ecosystems, and the Earth. Preliminary research in the field indicates that cultivating loving-kindness and practicing mindfulness leads to a greater level of nature connectedness and need to care for and protect the natural world. However, my colleagues and I did not find this to be the case and needed to explicitly give students instructions to care for the environment.

Abstract

In this chapter, we contribute to the conceptualization of self by engaging in a self-study of teacher education practices in which we distilled our perspectives on incorporating mindfulness in teacher education. Mindfulness is currently incorporated in teacher learning and education mostly toward stress-reduction and well-being, yet its ancestries stress its role as a path toward self-knowledge. Working in teacher education departments set in Israel, on the one hand, and Canada, on the other, we describe the place of the practice in our personal lives and articulate how we view its contribution to teacher education. Specifically, we focus on how “self” features in our endeavors, by examining “who it is” in the teacher that we seek to evoke/invoke by the application of mindfulness? We engaged in dialogue and reflective writing, in which each of us served as the other's critical friend in an attempt to clarify our different views. Oren emerges with a view of mindfulness as invoking “self as moment-to-moment experience” and the “teleological self,” both crucial for teachers. These senses of self mobilize us away from sociopolitical identities toward human-to-human relationships and reground teachers in the values they view as core to their call to teach. Conversely, Karen stresses the practice as a primer for situating the self in the sociopolitical. It enables deeper engagement in critical pedagogy, invoking teachers' “fluid self” situated in open-mindedness. Here mindfulness becomes a practice of social justice that allows us to acknowledge marginalized voices. Highlighting these different approaches, we contribute to the understanding of the role of mindfulness in teacher education. In particular, we extend the practice's main positioning within teacher well-being to its role within the discourse of teacher identity.

Abstract

Education in recent years has witnessed an increasing involvement in the conversations regarding anti-oppressive practice and contemplation, particularly as foundations for pedagogy and curricular design. Naturally, both discourses have intersected with each other through the attempts at their integration, potentially leading toward new practices of enhanced educational impact. This chapter serves as a deliberate reflection and elaboration upon the nature and potential implications of their integration. As both discourses reflect valuable approaches and ideas, it is important to carefully examine and approach their integration to ensure that the value of each perspective is preserved as well as enriched in its power to educatively stimulate meaningful learning in the classroom. In order for such an educative situation to emerge, I argue that the integration should be defined by a sustained friction and differentiation between each perspective. By sustaining the friction, each perspective preserves their power to illuminate alternative possibilities in understanding the self and the world for the other. The educative value of such friction rests within its power to carry students onto a journey of continuous learning without settling upon finalized answers. Ultimately, I conclude that this friction is made possible and sustained by being embodied as the very self of the teacher.

Content available
Cover of Exploring Self Toward Expanding Teaching, Teacher Education and Practitioner Research
DOI
10.1108/S1479-3687202034
Publication date
2020-10-29
Book series
Advances in Research on Teaching
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-83982-263-6
eISBN
978-1-83982-262-9
Book series ISSN
1479-3687