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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 Three: From What Does Ethical Relationality Flow? An Indian Act in Three Artifacts


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From What Does Ethical Relationality Flow?

An Indian Act in Three Artifacts


As part of an ongoing effort to articulate new ways of living together that are not fully circumscribed by colonial frontier logics (Donald, 2009b, 2012a, 2012b), I have been increasingly inspired by the wisdom teachings of Cree Elders. In Cree teachings, ethical forms of relationality are emphasized as most important because doing so supports life and living for all perceptive beings in organically generative ways. The Cree wisdom concepts most central to this relational insight are wicihitowin and wahkohtowin. The term wicihitowin1 refers to the life-giving energy that is generated when people face each other as relatives and build trusting relationships by connecting with others in respectful ways. In doing so, we demonstrate that we recognize one another as fellow human beings and work hard to put respect and love at the forefront of our interactions. The Elders teach that when wicihitowin is enacted in these ways—with the true spirit and intent of what it evokes—that there is much good that flows from it. The term wahkohtowin refers to kinship relations and teaches us to extend our relational network so that it also includes the more-than-human beings that live amongst us. Doing so helps us remain mindful that we human beings are fully enmeshed in a series of relationships that enable us to live. Thus, following the relational wisdom...

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