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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 Forty-Six: Spontaneous Learning


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Spontaneous Learning


Room-temperature diamonds are not forever; at 298 K (25 °C), graphite is eternal by comparison. In grade 9 science, I often use diamond and graphite to help introduce allotropes (Gk., allo = other, tropos = manner). Both are elemental forms of carbon; however, they differ in their spatial connectivity. Graphite is two-dimensional carbon; its multiple honeycomb-like layers can slide over one another, making it great for 2HB pencils. As an aside, at this point I do clarify the misconception regarding pencil “lead” by showing students the gray dot of graphite in my right hand made by an errant, airborne pencil. As discussed in grade 8 science, diamond’s 3D structure results in its being the hardest known material; meaning that, in a scratching contest against another substance, diamond always comes out unscathed. And, similar to new releases in movie theatres, 3D carbon is much more expensive and rarer than carbon in 2D.

Yet, a chemist can definitively say that at room temperature the conversion of diamond to graphite is spontaneous. In thermochemistry, spontaneity describes whether a process with certain characteristics and at a certain temperature will proceed or not; it provides no guidance as to timeframe. A spontaneous reaction will certainly occur; it just may take a while. Gibbs Free Energy (ΔG) can be thought of as an indication of spontaneity; if the value of ΔG is negative, zero, or positive, then the...

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