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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 Ten: Some Introductory Words for Two Little Earth-Cousins (david w. jardine)


Some Introductory Words for Two Little Earth-Cousins david w. jardine Out from behind his oxygen mask As if he were just my good old, familiar little earth-cousin. from jodi latremouille, “my treasured relation” Cancer really is one of “those” words. Two days ago, an old friend, Fernando, died of it, and the funeral is this Thursday, January 23rd—lung cancer come down hard and fast, as it often does. And then there’s me at 8-years-old and my mother, 1958, undergoing a radical mastectomy. Drawn living room curtains for weeks, a big wicker laundry basket full of neighbors’ tiny presents, one to be opened each day, smells of soaps and lotions and other notions, meant to help stretch out time’s lingering, I guess, and to show wee affections without words, without “that” word. Easy to recall how many had to disappear from view, unable to be present to such things. Understandable in its own sad way. Makes my own skin lesions over the past couple of years seem quite silly in comparison, not only because they are less severe and the suffering is near nil (although hearing “that” word chills nevertheless), but because, at the level of our living and dying, cancer is always incomparable. It fol- lows an old Gadamerian (1989, p. 39) adage: “the individual case …is not exhaust- ed by being a particular example of a universal law or concept.” My doctor and I joked about how this could be some sort of long-in-arriving anniversary—maybe C h...

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