Discovering contemplative pedagogy

To be great, be entire: of what’s yours nothing
Exaggerate or exclude.
Be whole in each thing. Put all that you are
Into the least that you do.
Like that on each place the whole moon
Shines, for she lives aloft.

Fernando Pessoa

I have started with this poem by Pessoa because for me stumbling across the concept of contemplative pedagogy has started a rich journey of integration. The idea of being ‘entire’, of being ‘whole’ in everything we do really inspires me. As a lecturer I have always drawn upon the resources I have developed through contemplative practice, primarily meditation, and I try to be present and authentic in the classroom. I know that the best lectures I deliver are those in which I have been brave enough to include elements of me – rendering myself visible and vulnerable in front of my students – at least to some degree.

But I never thought that my internal reflections about the connection between my practice and teaching would be externally voiced and certainly not with colleagues! I did not imagine that others were following similar paths, searching for  ways of integrating themselves more fully in their teaching and relationships with students. It has been both inspiring and motivating to find others who are  allowing the call of the heart for more connection, greater authenticity and a transformation in the way we teach to be voiced. As the number of examples of contemplative practice in higher education classrooms grows  and reflection about its impact and potential increases I become more confident in  the value of contemplative pedagogy for me, my students and the wider world.

I feel blessed to have found this budding sphere of knowledge and wisdom and sincerely hope that as this network develops we can support each other in the work that we are doing.  Please excuse the slightly self-indulgent nature of this first blog but I wanted to describe some of my wonder and surprise at what is emerging. Future blogs will be a combination of personal reflection, practical guidance, book reviews and discussions of relevant literature and will be written by a wide variety of contributors.

I hope you find the network and our blog of value and would welcome your contributions and comments. If you are new to the idea of contemplative pedagogy please have a look at our ‘What is contemplative pedagogy?’ page.

With kind wishes and excitement for what lies ahead

Caroline

One thought on “Discovering contemplative pedagogy

  1. You enact here what you’re talking about: opening yourself to be vulnerable. There are so many pressures on us to be “professional”, which means we have to adopt some persona that may or may not be at variance with our true selves. No, in fact a “professional persona” is designed – isn’t it? – to push aside the inner self and parade as someone aiming to impress (if only to impress students with the authority of the subject being taught). It takes guts to defy that impersonal professionalism, and a certain lightness of touch, which can come only when we’re able to put the ego aside.

    We may not get promoted if we open up and become vulnerable, but we’ll be doing something much more important, and much more satisfying. (But also something more lonely – until we find others as we have in this group.)

    RLA

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