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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 Twenty-Nine: Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome


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Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome


I decided to become a teacher because I envisioned myself spending joy-filled days creatively living with children. Six years ago, I began my journey into teaching. Over time, I realized that my vision of education often lives in tension with the rigid confines of formal schooling. I experienced this discord in my first teaching practicum. There were many joyful experiences within my practicum, but with time, I began to feel inundated with workbooks, unit plans, reading intervention strategies, worksheets, behaviour management techniques, and so on. Seeing how dedicated many teachers around me were to this formulaic teaching regime, I began to feel that, despite my better judgment, this must be proper schooling. I began to believe that perhaps I needed to abandon, or at least scale back, my vision of creative and joyous living with children and adopt the mainstream attitudes that seemed to surround me.

So, like many beginning teachers, I latched onto what I was shown. Many of my first experiences in my practicums involved watching stand-and-deliver lessons that attempted to transmit general knowledge of targeted curricular outcomes from teacher to student. I mirrored this pedagogy and was praised. Despite how rigid and uninspiring it felt, I assumed I must be doing it right. Yet I knew this monotonous ritual of knowledge transmission couldn’t be the world I put before children each day. I couldn’t hop over...

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