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On the Pedagogy of Suffering

Hermeneutic and Buddhist Meditations


Edited By David W. Jardine, Christopher Gilham and Graham McCaffrey

This text articulates how and why suffering can be pedagogical in character and how it is often key to authentic and meaningful acts of teaching and learning. This is an ancient idea from the Greek tragedies of Aeschylus (c. 525 BCE) – pathei mathos or «learning through suffering». In our understandable rush to ameliorate suffering at every turn and to consider every instance of it as an error to be avoided at all costs, we explore how the pedagogy that can come from suffering becomes obscured and something vital to a rich and vibrant pedagogy can be lost. This collection threads through education, nursing, psychiatry, ecology, and medicine, through scholarship and intimate breaths, and blends together affinities between hermeneutic conceptions of the cultivation of character and Buddhist meditations on suffering and its locale in our lives. This book will be useful for graduate courses on hermeneutic research in education, educational psychology, counseling, and nursing/medicine.


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Chapter Eight: Second Fragment: Thoughts on “Breaking the Gaze” (Christopher Gilham, David Jardine, & Graham McCaffrey)


C h a p T e r e i g h T CG: Monday, August 5, 2013, 9:14 am: “The deepest stream of our deeply human, deeply animal responses to this impingement is a sort of panicky retreat from a sense of threat” or the face to face fight so common with the students I’ve worked with–who are also at once, the leukemia patient Graham wrote about (See Chap- ter 2). Or is paralysis, too, a response? I wonder if the root of suffering is necessarily a first and natural response that is, with practice, caught early on and seen for what it is. In other words, the initial response of impingement-suffering might be necessary for the cultivation of the ability to distance and see one within that cycle. Without this noticing practice the subsequent attachment to the cycle is unnecessary suffering but not the root of suffering. Kearney’s reference to interpretive work or hermeneutics as involving Joyce’s two minds (Kearney, 2011) rings a bell here, and serves as another connection to this piece. Perhaps with practice we can almost instantly have two minds about situations and one of them is always initiated as an impingement or suffering… only once we catch what was thrown can we put language to it and world it in such a way that it is livable. Not sure if my distinction is distinct enough to be clear but this is, anyhow, how it seems to be for me. Perhaps a sign of...

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