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On the Pedagogy of Suffering

Hermeneutic and Buddhist Meditations


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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Contributor Bios


Heesoon Bai is professor in philosophy of education at Simon Fraser University, Canada. Her co-edited and co-authored books include Speaking of Teaching: Inclinations, Inspirations, and Innerworkings (2012); Speaking of Learning: Recollections, Revelations, and Realizations (forthcoming) and Contemplative Learning and Inquiry across Disciplines (forthcoming).

Alan Block has been a professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Stout for 25 years. Prior to that, for 18 years he taught high school English in the public high schools. He suffers.

Christopher B. Brown is a professor in the Departments of Medicine, Oncology, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. He is affiliated with the Southern Alberta Cancer Institute and a board member of the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta.

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