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The Ecological Heart of Teaching

Radical Tales of Refuge and Renewal for Classrooms and Communities

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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 Six: A Better Place

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CHAPTER SIX

A Better Place

SANDRA MCNEIL



Stephanie’s hand shot up in the air, just as I was about to introduce a math lesson. I know she can take us on a tangent. She asks a lot of questions and when she speaks she is not always concise. But, her excitement and energy about life and new ideas always seem to draw me in. This day I hesitated long enough for her to say, “This is totally off topic, but I want to ask your opinion about something.”

Opinion?!!!

Any time a student asks my opinion I find myself entering the tensioned space between the planned curriculum, which Aoki (2005) refers to as the curriculum guide or the mandated curriculum, that teachers are required to teach, and the lived curriculum, which Aoki denotes as the space in which teachers exist with their students; a place of complexity requiring decisions to be made in order to keep the class “alive and moving” (Aoki, 2005, p. 161).

Stephanie proceeded to tell me that she just had an eighty-minute debate in Humanities about the fact that Calgary’s city hall is flying a rainbow flag during the Olympics and only seven students thought it was a good thing.

“Even our teacher disagreed!”

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