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The Ecological Heart of Teaching

Radical Tales of Refuge and Renewal for Classrooms and Communities


Edited By Jackie Seidel and David W. Jardine

The Ecological Heart of Teaching is a collection of writings by teachers about their life in classrooms. Reflecting over three years of collective work, it illustrates how teachers, parents, and students can avoid some of the distractions and panic endemic to many schools, allowing them to focus thoughtfully on rigorous, beautiful work. It draws on ecological thinking, Buddhism, and hermeneutics to provide deeper, richer, and more abundant sources for teaching, thinking, and practice, and shows how these three lineages provide keys to decode the current malaise that surrounds schooling. The book will be valuable to beginning and experienced teachers and administrators, as well as to parents and anyone involved in stepping away from the exhausting industrial images and ideas that have turned schooling into an ecological and intellectual disaster. For those interested in interpretive research and life-writing, the book provides a wide array of examples; it is a valuable resource for undergraduate classes in curriculum and teaching, as well as graduate research methods courses interested in new forms of thinking and writing.
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Chapter One: Introduction


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Develop the following ideas with respect to your teachers. I have wandered for a long time through cyclic existence, and they search for me; I have been asleep, having been obscured by delusion for a long time, and they wake me; they pull me out of the depths of the ocean of existence; I have entered a bad path, and they reveal the good path to me; they release me from being bound in the prison of existence. I have been worn out by illness for a long time, and they are my doctors; they are the rain clouds that put out my blazing fire of attachment.

—TSONG-KHA-PA (2000, P. 83)

Everything is teaching you. Isn’t this so? Can you just get up and walk away so easily now?

—AJAHN CHAH (2004, P. 5)

This book gathers together writings about and by teachers. It draws on three bodies of scholarly endeavor that fall outside of the purview of much educational literature: ecology, Buddhism and hermeneutics. These three lineages insist, each in its own way, that our lived surroundings teach, and that our attunement to these teachings is key to a thoughtful, sustainable and livable future. The writings in this text demonstrate how everything is teaching us—objects and school artifacts, children, illness, elders, texts, colleagues and friends and enemies, animals, bodies, places...

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