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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 Fifty-Six: Bee & Nothingness


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Bee & Nothingness


Jem was scowling. It was probably a part of the stage he was going through, and I wished he would hurry up and get through it. He was certainly never cruel to animals, but I had never known his charity to embrace the insect world.

—HARPER LEE (1982, P. 238)


My exact age and some of the finer details of these encounters remain hazy from years of vigilantly not-knowing the internal relation buzzing between events spanning half a lifetime. Trembling little hands bury something in mother’s garden in bad faith. It is not that it would be impolite to discuss such things at the dinner table or in the classroom; it is that such things must not be spoken. At first this requires only a red plastic beach shovel; then, perchance, some Tonka trucks, a pellet gun, the Bible, television and eventually the crucible of schoolyard indifference. After that it gets a little easier. Other people help you not-know. But, and this is truly one of the awe-inspiring geometries of existence, these things have an inexplicable tendency to recur in our lives until they are addressed. Not-knowing thus requires steadfast effort, both individually and as a culture. Despite easing back and clearing a space for some of these memories to resonate within the privacy of my own inner world, the cultural space and...

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