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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-Five: “They Are All with Me”: Troubled Youth in Troubled Schools (Allan Donsky )


“They Are All wiTh Me”: Troubled Youth in Troubled Schools allan donsky Words strain, Crack and sometimes break, under the burden. (eliot, 1943, p. 19) T h e s pa C e i n - b e T w e e n As a physician with over 30 years of “practice” (at once a noun and a verb), half of them as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, I was, and continue to be, in the midst of pain and suffering. Students and parents invited me into their space to be with and witness their lives, both in the relative comfort of my office and at school. I was lured, both metaphorically and literally, into schools in an attempt to more fully “be with” their suffering. As I spent more time in classrooms, the layers and complexity of suffering continued to show themselves, a kaleidoscope of relating and related fragments. It was only with careful and gently attuned attention I was able to see how I could explore the interwoven richness and interpretability of suffering. An understand- ing of the causes and conditions (to use Buddhist language) of this suffering is never really fully grasped, it seems. Each moment, word, perception, sense, idea, and wondering is so fleeting. Life cannot be stopped long enough to dissect each C h a p T e r T w e n T y - f i v e 184 | allan donsky frame, as if somehow I could treat lived experience and suffering as I...

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