I belong to a wonderful on-line forum which aims to explore “the role of contemplative teaching and learning in higher education”. Over the last few days the Contemplative Pedagogy Network has been sharing our response to the question of a “definition of contemplative pedagogy/pedagogy”. My own contribution was this:
For me, the question “How do you define . ..” immediately highlights the key issue (or threshold concept perhaps):
Conventionally, education, particularly in HE, has been about pinning down an idea or topic in definitions, theories and pre-defined practices. By contrast the key ingredient of Contemplative Practice (embracing mindfulness and reflective practices) is an intent to rise-above the need to define and pin things down. What sets contemplation apart from conventional pedagogy is that it is a state of mind beyond the rational.
Thus, for me, what’s we’re interested in is anything that encourages and enables this ‘consciousness beyond the rational’ (which includes being able to integrate the different forms of mental activity).
Unless this key point is acknowledged in our practice and interactions with others, contemplative pedagogy risks becoming yet another exercise in box-ticking conceptualisation. Or put another way . . .
“How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?”
Many other excellent contributions explored similar ideas along the lines that whilst our discussion on definitions can help us to understand each other perspective, contemplation is one of those ideas that cannot be pinned down in a set of words . . . and if we insist on trying to, we’ve missed the point . . . just as you’d fail totally to grasp a moonbeam in your hand.
But we can allow that moonbeam, or piece of poetry, or feelings for someone going through a difficult time, to resonate with us. We can be present with it, enjoy the sensation. Isn’t a contemplative state of mind a key part of being a wise human . . . in any scenario or situation?
Dr keith beasley
As an engineer turned life-guide and Quality Assurance expert who did his PhD on 'Transcending Thought', I've seen life from many perspectives. We need them all to even begin to make sense of life . . .
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