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The Poetry In Teaching

If You Were To Ask Me …

there is this flow1 and this fluidity and this flexibility and this freedom to it        my teaching        and there is this poetry2 to it and this art3 to it        and this creativity4 to it        and there is this power and this force and when I get it right this electrifying energy and edginess like “don’t take this the wrong way J but fuck that first lecture was seriously intense”        like the question mark is visceral        and the air in the theatre recoils into itself it’s as uncertain as you          about what just happened and what might come next          and a backdraft seems to loom on the borderlands of your preconceived notions5

and there is this weight to it     this transformative6      weight     to it      driven by the poetry and the art but also by the ideas and the realisation that this touches everything you care about and it has for a long time and will for a long time and yeah you will get to direct the way it progresses from here on out and        “oh this course woke me up”        and I will let you sit with that         jolt6        that deep and disorientating dilemma7           in the bristling and crackling sound of one hand clapping silence8 now hammering away inside your skull

and hey I am still here for you ok        and you are safe here but that’s your catalyst and that’s your call to action and you need to move        now        and “this course was like a slap in the face and one I desperately needed”        and there is this sense of immediacy to the whole thing like       we      are      onto something and into something        something complex and beautiful9 something unexpectedly mysterious        in higher education of all places fuck yeah it still exists and        Hey        we a going to      co-       create10        it

we are going to co-create something that if we allow ourselves to see and to feel and to experience will become useful and practical and transferable and give us a chance       a chance at change and       “he         was         so         insanely inspiring”      a chance to be better         a chance to summon what’s best in us11 and we         us         you and me         this is where we meet        yeah you heard right this is not some courageous individual act9

the quality of what happens in a room is entirely down to the courage people bring to it12 and        you           are           here         too           and what you bring is of great benefit13        there is care here and there is empathy14 here and there has to be you can’t challenge and push people like this and not be there for them         in reading or listening to someone we are bearing witness         to the other14        and “I learned to be courageous and express my own opinion” and “guys I’d like to thank for your courage” and this is respect and this is recognition and this can sustain people15        and this is caring work16                teaching is caring work         “He cared about us as people – not just  another body in a seat”     and if there was ever a place to care this should be it

and if there was ever a place to take a risk and fail and still be ok then this should also be it and we need to take risks you and I          and I am here to show you the value in risk and the care in the work          and we also need to be curious enough17 for this too you know you and I together      curious enough to see        truth for the paradox it is18        and your self for the paradox it is        and “he makes you think – makes you question everything” 19 and there is an insecurity here        opening yourself up to what you don’t yet know19      I know       it feels      risky       right       but also right        and also very alive       and I am here to share with you an entirely new way of looking at the world and I am here to share with you descriptions of philosophies and experiences and possibilities for which you have had no words for before14         this moment19         and “thank you for opening my eyes”

and I wonder if I give you the space        to show me who you are and what you stand for and what you want to say and create will you blow me away        and “he gave us the freedom to be us”      and I wonder if I convince you that         learning is about failure20          and that it is ok to fail        and that somewhere in between what you start with and the failure you submit is        something        amazing        and I wonder if I can get you to understand and believe that         “this was unlike anything I have ever taken at university”.      will it set you free

and I have wondered        often       if I repeatedly tell over time an epic linked-up 21 but open and eternal ‘gathering story’22        could it be possible to light a fire under thousands upon thousands of people         who have all the fuel they need but often seem petrified of striking the match         and I think I can and I think I have been getting better at it and         “it felt like he flicked a switch” and “this was profound” and        “what you did here will stay with us for life”

and I have also wondered often        enough         if I do this often enough          will I become a presence of what I am trying to create23          will I become the embodiment of the metaphorical Möbius Strip24 all open and reflective and endlessly curious        wildly creative        all epic knowledge skills deep happiness25 and open hand       thereby allowing you the chance to do the same and as corny as it may sound what’s inside of us then flows outward

and                      together

you and I


go help shape a new and better world.

jh.

Notes

  1. Czikszentmihalyi, Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention.
  2. Watson, Methods Braiding: A Technique for Arts-Based and Mixed-Methods Research. 2.
  3. Cloud and Faulkner, Poetic Inquiry As Social Justice And Political Response, Forward, xi
  4. Schlee and Harich, Teaching Creativity to Business Students: How Well Are We Doing? 133.
  5. Gallo, Talk like TED: the 9 public-speaking secrets of the world’s top minds. 128.
  6. Meizrow, Learning to think like an adult: Core concepts of transformational theory. Fostering critical reflection in adulthood. 23
  7. Bullen and Roberts, From the outside in: tutor perspectives of student transformative experiences within Indigenous Studies health education. 491.
  8. Flanagan, The sound of one hand clapping. 236.
  9. Wicking, Now What? 114.
  10. Apol and McCarthy, Poetic Inquiry as Pedagogical Practice and Community Building. 11
  11. Liberman, “Terry Pattern”
  12. Perrin, “Pádraig Ó Tuama”
  13. Scolaro, “Parker Palmer”
  14. Galvin and Prendergast, 2016, xv
  15. Masciotra, “Rita Drove”
  16. Faulkner, Poetic Inquiry As Social Justice And Political Response, Forward, xii
  17. Gallo, “James Cameron”
  18. Palmer, “Niels Bohr”
  19. Harari, Sapiens: A brief history of humankind., ??
  20. Mahathera, Mindfulness in plain English, ??
  21. Flanagan, Smith Journal, (28), 032.
  22. Biggs, Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment.
  23. Perrin, “Pádraig Ó Tuama”
  24. Liberman, “Terry Pattern”
  25. Scolaro, “Parker Palmer”
  26. Liberman, “Terry Pattern”