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On the Pedagogy of Suffering

Hermeneutic and Buddhist Meditations

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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 Twenty-Two: “God’s Sufferings Teach God Nothing”: Some Emails (Alan A. Block & David W. Jardine)

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“God’s Sufferings Teach God Nothing”: Some Emails alan a. block & david w. jardine David: Date: Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 8:16 AM Attached [a draft of Chapter 21,“Nobody understood why I should be grieving”] Alan: We should talk a great deal about this paper. So let me start: You say, “I am defined by what I can thus remember …” but I wonder, can we be defined also by what we choose to forget—that forgetting is an active process and not a passive one? And why do you want to call the effort of remembering and forget- ting—of becoming—a suffering? David: Yes re: forgetting—formative process, not just indiscriminate storage for later access. And as to suffering—I keep blurring my way between enduring, undergoing, traversing, feeling, passing through, all the way to the nurses I work with in pediatric oncology, where suffering is still all of these, but magnified. The reason I keep blurring this is because of the tendency in education to try to get away from the old regimes of punishment and “a lesson he’ll never forget” by cleaving to the equally bizarre belief that everything should be easy, that nothing is gained through patience, endurance, perseverance, discipline, and so on… Alan: But as the Rabbis ask: are your sufferings precious to you, and the answer is neither they nor their reward (inelegant and ungrammatical but that is what they say!). Suffering exists, but does it have meaning in and of itself, or...

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