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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 Forty-Four: Two Young Fish

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CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

Two Young Fish

DEIRDRE BAILEY



There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

—DAVID FOSTER WALLACE (2005, N.P.)

Humanity has evolved to seek meaning, to find beauty that stirs the soul and attempt to connect with it. We were born to experience, to understand from experience, to gain knowledge directly through the senses and the gut. But our senses have dulled. We have transformed beauty from a place to an object, confused it with pretty or attractive, mistaken it for happiness and assumed it can be possessed. “We suffer from being focused on ‘the wrong things’ and from being without much focus” (Sewall, 2012, p. 266) and slip easily into diversion and distraction; our default settings.

And the so-called real world will not discourage [us] from operating on [our] default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. (Wallace, 2005, n.p.)

It is an anesthetized existence. One in which more is better, and skepticism is safety,...

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