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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 Sixteen: Quickening, Patience, Suffering (David W. Jardine)


Quickening, Patience, Suffering david w. jardine a f o r T u i T o u s e - m a i l e xC h a n g e Jodi [Latremouille]: Hi, David, I was reading The Spell of the Sensuous (Abram, 1996) and was reminded of that paper you sent us a couple of weeks ago. There is a pas- sage about the Australian Aboriginal tradition of “songlines” or “ways through” the continent, meandering trails, auditory route maps that are composed of a melody with various verses to be sung in different locations. It speaks of the Dreamtime Ancestors, while chanting their ways across the land, depositing a trail of “spirit children” along the trail. They are described as “life cells,” children not yet born; they lie in a potential state within the ground. When a woman is pregnant, the actual conception is thought to occur with the quickening, when she steps on a song couplet in the earth. So the spirit child “works its way into her womb, and impregnates the fetus with song.” Wherever the woman find herself when she feels the quickening—the first kick within her womb—she knows that a spirit child has just leapt into her body from the earth. And so she notes the precise place in the land where the quick- ening occurred, and reports this to the tribal elders. The elders then examine the land at that spot, discerning which Ancestor’s songline was involved, and precisely which stanzas of...

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