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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 Sixteen: Blossom Everlasting: A Meditation

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CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Blossom Everlasting

A Meditation

DAVID GEOFFREY SMITH



Not far from where I live, a restaurant recently changed hands and the new owners planted some gorgeous Japanese cherry trees in front of the building. When I drove by earlier this spring, the blossoms were absolutely stunning—a beautiful radiant pink registering against the white backdrop of the restaurant. When I drove by a month later, the blossoms were still blooming madly, or so I thought until suddenly I realized I’d been ‘had’; the blossoms are fake. Through the wizardry of modern chemistry, fake flowers can be made to look so real, you’d swear they were. (A new secretary in a local office I know was found one day, in a desire to impress as a new employee, watering the fake office plants.)

Interestingly enough, plastic flowers are usually made from polymers, a form of chemical compound based in petroleum, so you can draw quite direct lines between plastic flowers and contemporary petroleum-based war culture. A nice irony, and relevant here, is the fact that many young people who took part in the anti-war movements of the 1960s and ’70s were called “flower children” because of their love of flowers both for personal adornment and as a symbol of peace. Those were the days before plastic flowers.

As a teacher, I am always looking for the pedagogical messages in things, people and events...

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