Teaching as a healing art or a healing craft?
Denkanstoß—Food for Thought
1. I want to translate creative pedagogies (as described in various previous blog posts) into higher education. And yes I am very passionate about this.
2. I believe that teaching (and ultimately learning) is a healing art.
Well, I told him, exactly that. I said: To be honest, I believe that teaching is a healing art, but I can hardly write this into my academic practice statement. Can I? The answer was a definite no, and the decision to focus on answer one, was made. I think if I ever want to be able to use this as a proper answer, without the esoteric flair, I will have to establish some serious evidence. An initial search brought up this article by J.P. Palmer about teacher identity and integrity. One theme that seems to emerge when talking about teaching as a healing art is that of weaving. Weaving of identities, realities, in conversation with our students into a shared tapestry of our mutual selves.
Good teachers join self, subject, and students in the fabric of life because they teach from an integral and undivided self; they manifest in their own lives, and evoke in their students, a “capacity for connectedness.” (Palmer, 1997)
In essence, this work is […] allowing readers to witness how I am weaving together various strands of myself including the personal, emotional, professional, intellectual, and spiritual. (Villanueva, 2013)
Maybe the answer to this in somewhere in there?
I agree on all points made by Villanueva. However, how would this be quantifiable? We imply it in our postgraduate diploma. We ask the participants, who are all in one way teaching at university, to write an account of professional practice, and in this account we asked them, to some degree, to reflect on their teacher identity. We also refer to the UKPSF, our professional standard framework here in the UK. The framework is split into three sections: Activities, Knowledge, and Values. The values speak about respect for learners, equality and diversity, but also using evidence informed approaches and acknowledging the wider higher education context. Now you could question the intrinsic value in acknowledging the higher education context. But you could also just look at it more closely and realize it reflects the elements of weaving Villanueva is writing about—professional, and scholarship refers to intellectual, CPD to personal. So mapping these philosophical, maybe romantic, notions of teaching to more tangible constructs could be a way towards quantifying the less tangible dimensions of teaching.
Another way to approach this topic is through exploring teacher identities. I very much associate with the below quote, and think somewhere in there is how we build the previously mentioned connections with our students. It makes me wonder how much ones self-awareness is related to creating a connected teacher identity.
Identity and integrity have as much to do with our shadows and limits, our wounds and fears, as with our strengths and potentials. (Palmer, 1997)
Five psychological processes were found to be involved in the development of a teacher identity: a sense of appreciation, a sense of connectedness, a sense of competence, a sense of commitment, and imagining a future career trajectory. (Lankveld et al., 2016)
- Palmer, P.J. (1997) The Heart of a Teacher Identity and Integrity in Teaching, Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 29:6, 14-21, DOI: 10.1080/00091389709602343
- Villanueva (2013) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11256-012-0222-5