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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-Seven: Suffering “Like This”: Interpretation and the Pedagogical Disruption of the Dual System of Education (Christopher Gilham)


Suffering “Like This”: Interpretation and The Pedagogical Disruption of The Dual System of Education christopher gilham s u f f e r i n g a n d s C h o o l fa i lu r e What do we do next year? This can’t go on like this. gary, school administrator Every word breaks forth as if from a centre… hans-georg gadamer (1989, p. 454) James, a young boy, had climbed high up a tree, again. Gary, the principal of the school, had called me and the police. I went to the school to support Gary and his school team, to see how I might be able to help. I was a regular visitor that school year because James and most of the other students in his class were often in distress. At the time of the event, I worked for a large urban public school board as a specialist. My main work was to support schools in their work with students with severe emotional and behavioural disabilities (EBD). The severe EBD status came from diagnoses that are found within the American Psychiatric Association’s Di- agnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). The DSM diagnosis allowed the school board to apply a codification system to the students which identified them as hav- ing severe EBD status and in turn, permitted the allocation of special funding to C h a p T e r T w e n T y - s e v e n 214 | christopher gilham the...

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