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Auto/biography & Pedagogy

Memory & Presence in Teaching

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Freema Elbaz-Luwisch

In the tradition of educational narrative inquiry, this book explores diverse ways of thinking, writing and theorizing from auto/biographic experience, in language that is rooted in practice yet challenges the authoritative discourses of educational policy, theory and research. The book moves from first to third person accounts and from personal and family stories to narratives of teachers and teacher educators in the contested, multicultural environment of Israel. It highlights the multi-voiced, embodied lives of Israeli teachers from many cultures and identities and engages with literature around memory and embodiment, imagination, place and presence in teaching. The book will interest researchers in curriculum studies, teaching and teacher education, as well as scholars interested in issues of memory in historical and contemporary contexts.
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Chapter 8: Auto/biography and Conflict in Teaching and Life

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CHAPTER 8

Auto/biography and Conflict in Teaching and Life

Introduction

Coming to the University of Haifa in 1986, I was troubled to see that, despite the diversity of the student body, the majority of students (particularly undergraduates and prospective teachers) chose to socialize and engage in discussion only with members of their own groups. At first I experimented with a variety of interventions, usually improvised on the spot with little success and some embarrassment. For a while I attempted to ignore the matter, consoling myself that in graduate courses the students, most of them teachers, shared their professional experience and concerns quite easily without any evident barriers of ethnic, linguistic, political or religious difference. But then I came across a significant book, Sitting in the Fire (Mindell, 1995), in which Mindell discusses his approach to working with conflict, claiming that “engaging in heated conflict instead of running away from it is one of the best ways to resolve the divisiveness that prevails on every level of society—in personal relationships, business and the world" (1995, 12). Reading this book and feeling the excitement of the possibilities I envisioned within Mindell’s examples of his work, I began to understand that my efforts to bring students into dialogue were motivated by something beyond a preference for an active and engaged classroom. I took two actions as a result of reading the book: I arranged to study at the Processwork Institute in Portland, Oregon. And I volunteered...

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