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Bryant Griffith

The craft of teaching and learning is like playing in a symphony orchestra; every instrument has a voice and every voice is integral to the whole. The arts, history, anthropology, and philosophy and their forged discourses offer us a series of cautionary tales about the multiplicity of ways we can see and understand our world, ways we often ignore in the classroom. In the case of epistemology, and pedagogy in particular, we have hinged our understanding on a binary of opposites engaged in a dialectic dance and a type of discourse constructed to describe and explain it. The art and act of teaching in this as-if world necessitates teachers to be public intellectuals; intellectual symbols who represent something more than just subject-knowledge expertise but serve as conduits between the discourses of our world.
Established genres and discourses are exclusionary. The vast migration of people and ideas is producing a new set of presuppositions. The manner in which we decode other discourses and fuse them into meanings, both personal and shared, is the root of both teaching and learning, giving us a window into the way that each form of thought is connected, both historically and experientially. Look around you, your school is becoming the United Nations, but it’s not so united. Don’t aim for truth, aim for understanding. Today’s students construct and deconstruct in a multitude of ways on an as-needed, just-in-time basis. Since ideas of difference are often nudged but unacknowledged, we are in danger of becoming pedagogical dinosaurs, not heeding change until it is too late.
Teaching and learning are construction zones, so get out your hard hat. These constructions are possibilities that need to be discussed and negotiated, allowing us to sidestep the traps of grand narratives and a hierarchy of discplinarity and research methodology. Our possibilities need to be forged on an anvil of diversity. These are the spaces, the interstices, where our voices become innovative and our silence offers a safe harbor. Spaces to listen, collaborate, and craft cautionary tales about our lives and the possibilities for a shared future.

Enaction

Toward a Zen Mind in Learning and Teaching

Series:

Domenico Masciotra, Wolff-Michael Roth and Denise Morel

This book is addressed to all those in the field of education or related fields, including teachers, teacher-trainers, consultants, and researchers, who are interested in exploring the question, “What does it mean to know, to learn and to teach?” Contrary to popular conceptions, an enactive perspective assumes that knowing and learning are not disembodied operations that take place solely in a person’s head. Rather, they are a function of the whole person who is firmly situated in the world and who acts in the world to transform it, just as she is transformed by it. The dynamic and transformational nature of knowing and learning are reflected in the relationship between the person and her world, a relationship that evolves through acting in and with the world rather than abstracting oneself from it. Knowing develops as a function of the person’s availability, that is, her full involvement and presence in the here- and-now. The aim of education is thus to foster the development of this relationship in a never-ending quest for deep interiority with the world.
Drawing on their experiences as teachers, curriculum developers, students, Zen practitioners, karateka, bicyclists, hobby mathematicians, and gardeners, the authors provide many concrete examples of what it means to think about knowing and learning in terms of enaction and how teachers and curriculum developers who take enactivism seriously might go about designing and implementing lessons.

Series:

Patrick J. Lewis

If story is the basic principle of mind—then what are we doing in elementary schools? In this provocative exploration of narrative, the author writes from the idea that story is integral to the generation of meaning in human experience. Indeed, story plays a significant role in the formation of identity and the development of greater empathic understanding.
The text begins with a discussion of the epistemological and ontological nature of narrative in human understanding and then travels across the narrative landscape of the school setting. Through an examination of the impact of standards and accountability emphasis on curriculum, the author suggests current practice may be undermining student learning and engagement. Further, the author places oracy in temporary opposition to literacy, challenging us to rethink our assumptions about the role of literacy (ies) learning. Without negating the importance of literacy, attention is drawn to what is lost in chasing the assumed inherent good-ness of a text-based literacy and how this might hinder the growth of our children.
The value of narrative in developing teaching practice and promoting significant learning is brought to the foreground of the discussion, which naturally journeys into an exploration of curriculum raising serious questions about developmental approaches to curriculum construction. How we think but not in school will appeal to elementary teachers, early literacy teachers, teacher educators and those interested in narrative.