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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 Twenty-Three: Compassion Loves Suffering: Notes on a Paper Never Written (Christopher Gilham, David Jardine, & Graham McCaffrey)


Compassion Loves Suffering: Notes on a Paper Never Written christopher gilham, david jardine, & graham mccaffrey Chris: I’ve been wanting to get to our shared work and well, it’s been just so busy here. Today is the last day of classes…and I’ve become something of the open office door guy for students so I get a lot of traffic here…very hard to get into anything…now I realize why lots of faculty are not here much…but I like being present and helping and believe me, some of these students need help…little bits and pieces of suffering…much like being in a high school…privileged work to be trusted…I often think of you sitting, listening, nodding and being attentive… being careful with your words…dropping insightful comments to shift a direction or mindset…I try to do the same…this life needs our attention, for sure, in order to be well with and for one another. Love this work! David: I love it too, but. It becomes a matter, too, of how to not simply exhaust ourselves at this un-healable breach. That is the real trick, that sense of balance where I can maintain my ability to be attentive and be attentive as well. Again, of course, this is always judged event by event, as Graham’s paper [see Chapter 2] notes. This is why the compassion/mindfulness stuff only makes sense once the exigencies of practice are entered into. Both are a great “idea” but both are not...

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