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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 Thirty-Two: Tortuga


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I’ve got a turtle in my classroom named Tortuga. She’s twenty-five years old and likes to climb things. It’s pretty difficult with her short legs and an inflexible shell and we’ve watched her fall a lot but it never stops her. Tortuga’s got some damage to her shell because once, earlier in her life, someone tried to drill a hole in it. Once, I overheard the children discussing it during recess …

“That must have hurt her a lot.”

“They probably thought she couldn’t feel it. They didn’t understand.”

“People just forget to pay attention sometimes.”

“They mustn’t have been really looking at her. Sometimes people look at things but they don’t really see.”

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