Lessons of the heart: teaching and the poetic life of mind "full" possibilities

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Date
1998-04-22
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Virginia Tech
Abstract

Education should grow the delicate flowers of our emotional hearts and souls as well as the sturdy plants of our minds; it should awaken us to depths of which the mind alone is not capable. This study presents reasoning for the necessary nurturing of students as whole people. The style in which it is written is indicative of the content itself; unrestricted and constant in motion, much like a free verse poem, the study achieves its wholeness not by wild abandonment of form, but by the embracing of a particular design that is self-generated rather than regulated. The point is to show that just as our lives cannot fruitfully be assembled then categorized, neither can teaching which is linear and disembodied provide a meaning "full" education for teacher or student.

The themes of risk and vulnerability, self-knowledge, self-reflection, and self-hood, the incredible necessity to see our lives as large rather than small, and the overwhelming challenge to open up to instead of shut out the sounds of our lives are the strains that are herein taken up. Another time, another space and the issues would have presented themselves in an entirely different, but just as meaningful light. Again, the point made is how the unforeseen element of creativity rises up when thought is allowed to intertwine itself with the experiences of our lives. When allowed to self-generate, it connects all things to form a whole that once could only have been imagined. It integrates the private unfolding of a person with the concern of the public message to bear new beginnings to the conduct of things.

Though this study is about teachers and teaching, in its deepest moments it is equally about students. For without the active presence of students no study can begin to ask teachers to consider the on-going need to open not just their minds, but their hearts and souls to the young people with whom they daily interact. Without the active presence of students the spirit of a "poetic" life is reduced to the singular lyrical pieces of experience rather than the encompassing epic tale that we understand is the real truth of our educations. Without the active presence of students the work of a teacher is but an accounting ledger of isolated method, a reductive energy that in the end is much about product, but little about life.

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Keywords
holistic, listening, students, risk
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