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Archive for the ‘Method’ Category

If you’ve struggled with what people actually mean by postmodernism and its relationship to modernism and pre-modernism you might appreciate these extracts from Ken Wilber’s Integral Psychology – I certainly did.

 

See also my other posting on I, WE & IT and also the posting on Mythos and Logos including Karen Armstrong’s work.

 

Modernism, pre-modernism and post-modernism

In other words, the four quadrants (or the Big Three) are actually the underpinnings of the modern differentiation of the values spheres of art, morals and science. Where premodernity had tended to fuse, or not clearly differentiate, the Big Three, modernity clearly differentiated them and set each free to pursue its own path. This differentiation was part of the dignity of modernity, which, in allowing each domain to pursue its own truths, allowed each to make stunning and far-reaching discoveries , discoveries that, even the harshest critics agree, set modernity apart from premodernity.

 

But something else set modernity apart. The differentiation of the big Three went too far into the dissociation of the Big Three : the dignity drifted into disaster, and this allowed an imperialistic science to dominate the other spheres and claim that they possessed no inherent reality of their own (scientism, scientific materialism, one-dimensional man, the disenchantment of the world). Gone was mind and soul and spirit, and in their place, as far as the eye could see, the unending dreariness of a world of its; ” a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colourless; merely the hurrying a material, endlessly, meaninglessly.”

 

And so it came about that virtually the entire spectrum of consciousness, and certainly its higher levels, (soul and spirit), were reduced to permutations and combinations of matter and bodies. Put bluntly, all ‘Is’ and ‘we’s’ were reduced to ‘its’, to objects of the scientific gaze, which no matter how long or hard it looked, could find nothing resembling the Great Nest of human possibilities, but saw only endless patterns of process ‘its’, scurrying here and there. Integral Psychology P.64

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Thus , it seems that premodernity had at least one great strength that modernity lacked: it recognized the entire Great Nest of Being, which is basically a general map of higher human potentials. But premodernity also had at least one great weakness; it did not fully differentiate the value spheres at any of the levels of the Great Nest. Thus, among other things, objective-scientific investigation of the spectrum was hampered; the specific and often cultural expressions of the Great Nest were taken to be universally valid; and the moral injunctions recommended to all were tied to those limited cultural expressions. Giordano Bruno might have experienced many of he upper levels of the Great Nest, but because the value spheres were not fully differentiated at large and their individual freedoms were not protected by law and custom, the Inquisition cheerfully burned him at the stake.

 

Modernity, on the other hand, did manage to differentiate the Big Three of art, morals and science, on a large scale, so that each began to make phenomenal discoveries. But as the Big Three dissociated, and scientific colonialism began its aggressive career, all ‘Is’ and all ‘we’s’ were reduced to patterns of objective ‘its’, and thus all the interior stages of consciousness – reaching from body to mind to soul to spirit – were summarily dismissed as so much superstitious nonsense. The Great Nest collapsed into scientific materialism – into what we will be calling “flatland” – and there the modern world, by and large, still remains.

 

Our job, it thus appears, is to take the strengths of both premodernity and modernity, and jettison their weaknesses. Pp 64-65

To re-legitimize other ways of knowing, to work clearly with and between all three I, WE & IT ways of knowing (plus community-tradition) brings the possibility of re-enchantment and balanced development of the individual and of societies!

The model at the heart of this site utilizes Wilber’s triadic structure you can read a summary HERE.

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All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

 

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Inspiring quotations for PhD thesis

Like heroes and heroines certain key sayings inspire us. Here I’m assembling the ones that have meant most to me.

As I re-find them I am putting the NEWEST at the top:

From my thesis;

The four texts that contributed to the leitmotif that, I hope, makes, of the thesis parts, a whole

Text 1)

“The larger the island of knowledge, the longer
the shoreline of mystery.” Unknown author

Text 2)

The search for reason ends at the shore of the known;
on the immense expanse beyond it
only the sense of the ineffable can glide.
It alone knows the route to that
which is remote from experience and understanding.
Neither is amphibious:
reason cannot go beyond the shore,
and the sense of the ineffable
is out of place where we measure, where we weigh…….

Citizens of two realms, we must all sustain dual allegiance:
we sense the ineffable in one realm;
we name and exploit reality in another.

Between the two we set up a system of references,
but can never fill the gap.
They are as far and as close to each other

As time and calendar, as violin and melody,
as life and what lies beyond the last breath.

The tangible phenomena we scrutinize with our reason,

The sacred and indemonstrable we overhear

with the sense of the ineffable.

Heschel A. J. (1971), Man is Not Alone, New York: Octagon Books p.8

Text 3)

Tao, the subtle reality of the universe

cannot be described.

That which can be described in words

is merely a conception of the mind.

Although names and descriptions have been applied to it,

the subtle reality is beyond the description.

One may use the word ‘Nothingness”

to describe the Origin of the universe,

and “Beingness”

to describe the Mother of the myriad things,

but Nothingness and Beingness are merely conceptions.

From the perspective of Nothingness,

one may perceive the expansion of the universe.

From the perspective of Beingness,

one may distinguish individual things.

Both are for the conceptual convenience of the mind.

Although different concepts can be applied,

Nothingness and Beingness

and other conceptual activity of the mind

all come from, the same indescribable subtle Originalness

The Way is the unfoldment of such subtle reality.

Having reached the subtlety of the universe,

one may see the ultimate subtlety,
the Gate of All Wonders.

Ni, Hua-Ching (1997), The Complete Works of Lao Tzu, Santa Monica, USA: Seven Star Communications – Tao The Ching (‘Chapter’ 1)

Text 4)

….set then yourselves towards His holy Court, on the shore of His mighty Ocean, so that the pearls of knowledge and wisdom, which God hath stored up within the shell of His radiant heart, may be revealed unto you….
(Baha’u’llah: Proclamation of Baha’u’llah, Pages: 8-9)

“The utterances of the heart — unlike those of the discriminating intellect — always relate to the whole.” (Jung)

Also from the thesis;

Introduction to Chapter 1 – an ‘overture’

By way of a short introduction I want to ‘sound’, as in an overture, certain ‘notes’, or themes or resonances. They are from writers, and a film-maker, whose statements have come to mean a great deal, in the struggle to search out my own story, and its meaning educationally.

Autobiography is a journey inward. St Augustine said:

Men go to gape at mountain peaks, at the boundless tides of the sea, the broad sweep of rivers, the encircling ocean and the motion of the stars; and yet they leave themselves unnoticed; they do not marvel at themselves.
St. Augustine, Confessions X2

Autobiography is not entirely a matter of re-collecting objective facts: it is re-creation as well as re-collection, but it is a seeking after a kind of truth; the truth of authentically being in oneself. Peter Abbs (1974 p. 7) calls autobiography: the search backwards into time to discover the evolution of the true self. It is, as such, about self-knowing, but something beyond the fripperies of the ego. Baha’u’llah, Founder of the Baha’i religion, in one of His own writings, cites a tradition from Islam: He hath known God who hath known himself. (Baha’u’llah: Gleanings, MARS database3 p.178).

For the theistically religious the more we come to know our true selves, the closer we come to the Divine within us, and vice versa. I make no claim, beyond a few faltering steps, but the ideas continue to inspire.

The ‘Thesis Poem’
I have chosen the following poem by Seamus Heaney (1996 p.14) as ‘the poem’ for the thesis because it shows beautifully how we resonate now, in relation to what we sensed and experienced as children. It also shows how, through metaphor, the objective connects with the subjective to thrill, to the very quick of our being.

About the poem, ‘Personal Helicon’ Pelligrino (2003 p.1) explains;

Mount Helicon is a mountain in Greece, that was, in classical mythology, sacred to Apollo and the Muses. From it flowed two fountains of poetic inspiration. Heaney is here presenting his own source of inspiration, the “dark drop” into personal and cultural memory, made present by the depths of the wells in his childhood. Now, as a man, he is too mature to scramble about on hands and knees, looking into the deep places of the earth, but he has his poetry – and, thank God, so do we.

Of course if Heaney was reading it we would have that wonderful voice, like an aromatic tree giving up the sap, and perfuming the air with all the good things from the soil.

Personal Helicon by Seamus Heaney
for Michael Longley

As a child, they could not keep me from wells
And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.
One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection in it.
A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
Fructified like any aquarium.
When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
A white face hovered over the bottom.
Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it. And one
Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.
Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.

Later I take up the issues of resonance, and of objective and subjective meaning combined in metaphor, and the power of the subjective in personal history, to continue to generate the new in the meaning-making we do. The darkness echoes, as we stare into the part darkness of the self, and its memories – we stare, each a big-eyed Narcissus.

The final ‘sounding’, or theme, in the Introduction to Chapter 1 concerns identity and the moment, which lives on, and in which the past continues to create. The piece is by Jorge Luis Borges4, who says:

Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made
up of a single moment – the moment in which a man finds
out, once and for all, who he is.

The one moment could conceivably be a choice – as in Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After Life where a group of 22 people are suspended between earth and heaven with a week to answer the important question: “What is the one memory that you choose to carry into the afterlife?” When each chooses his or her memory, this is all that will be remembered for eternity.

Professionally, the lesson, or pair of lessons, upon which this thesis is, in part, an extended reflection contains the one memory I would choose. Ideally it would be the whole of the two ‘story’ lessons.

If it was reduced just to seconds it would be the moment that one ‘deviant’ boy offered an explanation of the possible symbolic meaning of the two fishes that I had drawn on the blackboard. One fish was a line drawing, the other a similar shaped fish, but its shape was delineated via chalk shading (i.e. from ‘the outside’).

“Mr P I think one fish represents bounded imagination, and the other stands for unbounded imagination.”

His brilliantly insightful comment was the jewel in the crown of an outstanding lesson in which the class and I, so I felt, was as ‘one-mind’, intellectually sharp but attitudinally contemplative, in ‘cross-over’ from extreme left-brain and extreme right-brain engagement – and here he was, the boy always in trouble with various teachers, speaking my as yet unrealized thoughts, and riveting me to that moment.

It was the supreme moment, within the supreme experience in a life-time of teaching, and it was, as Jack Nicholson and the movie title say, ‘As good as it gets’.

One key quotation is missing from this section. It is; “The larger the island of knowledge,the longer the shoreline of mystery.” Anon. I now find that in a piece of his work Bill Viola was inspired by;

“The Self is an ocean without a shore. Gazing upon it has no
beginning or end, in this world and the next.”
Ibn al’Arabi (1165 – 1240)

The ocean and island metaphors, the limitless Self, the fathomless self, the moment and memories, ‘After Life’, self-knowledge and the impossibility of knowing the Self – all these and more are essential threads in my attempt too present in SunWALK a model of what it is to be positively and fully human as well as a model of how education can be intrinsically spiritualizing without the narrow sectarian religion.

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All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE


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Key photography quotations toward defining a photographic aesthetic

This is a running list of quotations selected to help me move toward an understanding of my own photographic aesthetic – based on the SunWALK model.

The camera is an instrument of detection. We photograph not only what we know, but also what we don’t know. ” Lisette Model

The book (Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes) develops the twin concepts of studium and punctum: studium denoting the cultural, linguistic, and political interpretation of a photograph, punctum denoting the wounding, personally touching detail which establishes a direct relationship with the object or person within it. Wiki

While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see. ~Dorothea Lange

A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into. ~Ansel Adams

There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer. ~Ansel Adams

The camera can photograph thought. ~Dirk Bogarde

I think the best pictures are often on the edges of any situation, I don’t find photographing the situation nearly as interesting as photographing the edges. ~William Albert Allard, “The Photographic Essay”

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence. ~Ansel Adams

The goal is not to change your subjects, but for the subject to change the photographer. ~Author Unknown

A photograph is memory in the raw. ~Carrie Latet

All photos are accurate. None of them is the truth. ~Richard Avedon

The camera cannot lie, but it can be an accessory to untruth. ~Harold Evans, “Pictures on a Page”

You don’t take a photograph, you make it. ~Ansel Adams

Most things in life are moments of pleasure and a lifetime of embarrassment; photography is a moment of embarrassment and a lifetime of pleasure. ~Tony Benn

A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety. ~Ansel Adams

I never question what to do, it tells me what to do. The photographs make themselves with my help. ~Ruth Bernhard

A Ming vase can be well-designed and well-made and is beautiful for that reason alone. I don’t think this can be true for photography. Unless there is something a little incomplete and a little strange, it will simply look like a copy of something pretty. We won’t take an interest in it. ~John Loengard, “Pictures Under Discussion”

I just think it’s important to be direct and honest with people about why you’re photographing them and what you’re doing. After all, you are taking some of their soul. ~Mary Ellen Mark

Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man. ~Edward Steichen

The photograph itself doesn’t interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality. ~Henri Cartier Bresson

The creative act lasts but a brief moment, a lightning instant of give-and-take, just long enough for you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box. ~Henri Cartier Bresson

Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again. ~Henri Cartier-Bresson

If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera. ~Lewis Hine

A photograph is like the recipe – a memory the finished dish. ~Carrie Latet

Everyone has a photographic memory, but not everyone has film. ~Author Unknown

Photographs that transcend but do not deny their literal situation appeal to me. ~Sam Abbel

A picture is worth a thousand words; a slide show is both. ~Author Unknown

One photo out of focus is a mistake, ten photo out of focus are an experimentation, one hundred photo out of focus are a style. ~Author Unknown

All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget. In this – as in other ways – they are the opposite of paintings. Paintings record what the painter remembers. Because each one of us forgets different things, a photo more than a painting may change its meaning according to who is looking at it. ~John Berger

I didn’t want to tell the tree or weed what it was. I wanted it to tell me something and through me express its meaning in nature. ~Wynn Bullock

Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what it appears to be. ~Duane Michals

The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score, and the print the performance. ~Ansel Adams

Useful sites

http://www.photoquotes.com/ Blogs on Photography

http://photosleavehome.blogspot.com/2005/03/john-berger-understanding-photograph.html

http://www.temple.edu/photo/photographers/

http://moma.org/collection/depts/photography/index.html

http://www.photo-seminars.com/fame.htm

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NB All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

 

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Story and storying: the teacher’s self as text in reform of education

Parker Palmer in, The Courage to Teach, (1998 p.3), says that his book:

explores the teacher’s inner life, but it also raises a question that goes beyond the solitude of the teacher’s soul: How can the teacher’s selfhood become a legitimate topic in education and in our public dialogues on educational reform?

It turns out that this site is an attempt to answer Palmer’s question.

In a similar vein Sondra Perl (1994), (in Laidlaw, Mellett and Whitehead 2003) says:

Stories have mythic powers. To know this … is to know the shaping power of the tale. But how, I wonder, do we see beyond the boundaries of a familiar story and envision a new one? What, in other words, are the connections between texts we read and the lives we live, between composing our stories and composing ourselves?

Stories are one answer to the question; ‘What is it that makes of the parts a whole?’.  Story-making of our experience is in-built.  Conversely we tend to read the world according to the stories to which we subscribe, or that we ourselves have created.  A religious world-view would be an example of the former.  Concerning personal stories and how we construe the world see the psychology, and methodology, of George Kelly HERE

I am seeking on this site, and have sought in my thesis, to see beyond the familiar stories of my life, and of education as it is has been, and, through ‘a re-composing’ of my life via autobiography, my teaching and dialogues, I have sought to envision a new story for education.  This is what is meant by ‘applied autoethnography’.

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Today someone wrote me from Mexico and asked about starting a holistic school or centre. Below is what I wrote back but I will add more as I think of it;

If I were much younger and was able to start a school, my hard-won general principles would include;

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1 Find the finance to buy a school that is already successful. Develop its potential further – including the summer period. Don’t change anything until you understand everything and fully have the trust of the parents staff and children. Alternatively if all you can do is teach 3 children under the village tree then do that. Or support others in home-schooling.

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2 Develop an MA course and get it accredited by an internationally acceptable university.

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3 Draw your MA students from around the world and pair them with classroom teachers for at least half of each day. The teachers with their MA student assistants would consequently be involved in on-going research that was classroom-inspired – what is the best way to teach Maths?, how can the spiritual dimension of all subjects be developed?, what is the optimum amount of physical expression e.g. drama, dance etc.

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4 Make sure that you eventually institutionalize the holistic procedures – one school I about to be holistic when the core charismatic teachers left.

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5 Live what you teach.

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6 Be democratic – use PFC Philosophy for Children but realize that your responsibilities as an adult mean that it is you that will be held to account! Make clear contracts between all stakeholders including children, teachers, parents, community members etc. Authority must be given to the Head – revising policy by others should be restricted to just a few meetings per year.

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7 If the children can help build and care for the school, along with community members, it would be very useful!

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Of course there are a whole bunch of more general principles that you can assemble – have sufficient finance to last if your development stages take 2 or 3 times as long as you expect. etc.

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One UK source of relevant advice is the Human-scale Education movement

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All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD. Summaries are HERE

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Personal Helicon by Seamus Heaney; resonance, memory, self-understanding and depths of the soul

well-of-life.jpgSculpture the ‘Well of Life’, Zagreb – source

I chose the following poem by Seamus Heaney (1996 p.14) as ‘the poem’ for my doctoral thesis because it shows beautifully how we resonate now, in relation to what we sensed and experienced as children. It also shows how, through metaphor, the objective connects with the subjective to thrill, to the very quick of our being.

About the poem, Personal Helicon Pelligrino (2003 p.1) explains;
Mount Helicon is a mountain in Greece, that was, in classical mythology, sacred to Apollo and the Muses. From it flowed two fountains of poetic inspiration. Heaney is here presenting his own source of inspiration, the “dark drop” into personal and cultural memory, made present by the depths of the wells in his childhood. Now, as a man, he is too mature to scramble about on hands and knees, looking into the deep places of the earth, but he has his poetry – and, thank God, so do we.

Of course if Heaney was reading it we would have that wonderful voice, like an aromatic tree giving up the sap, and perfuming the air with all the good things from the soil.

Personal Helicon by Seamus Heaney
for Michael Longley

As a child, they could not keep me from wells
And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.
One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection in it.
A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
Fructified like any aquarium.
When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
A white face hovered over the bottom.
Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it. And one
Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.
Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.

—–0—–

All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD. Summaries are HERE

Read Full Post »

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