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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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Foreword: Not Just as We Please, or by Choice: A Meditation on What It Means to Make a Difference

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Foreword

Not Just as We Please, or by Choice: A Meditation on What It Means to Make a Difference

DAVID GEOFFREY SMITH



Insofar as one might have a historical materialist view of the human condition, and perhaps even if one doesn’t, three points from Karl Marx (1852/1978) still bear consideration:

[People] make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past. (p. 595)

In a way, the words serve as a warning. When it comes to meaningful and lasting personal, social, political or cultural change, don’t indulge in any fantasies about pure autonomy or perfectly free action, because the real work to be done always entails dealing precisely with what one has been dealt, what one has received, be it from family, tribe, language or nation. Why? Because “[the] tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living” (p. 595), and unless one penetrates the veils of one’s receipts, reproduction of the old life in new forms is the inevitable result. Marx took as his example the so-called French Revolution of Napoleon Bonaparte when land and property were divested from the monarchy, with its feudal social and political arrangements, and taken over by a new bourgeois class (> O.Fr. borgois, town dweller...

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