I had a quiet time reading Parker J. Palmer’s most recent book this morning and in the spirit of
#thoughtvectors I am sharing my associative trails here before they start fading away.
“…war is not the only setting in which violence is done: violence is done whenever we violate another’s integrity. Thus we do violence in politics when we demonise the opposition or ignore urgent human needs in favour of politically expedient decisions.” (Parker J. Palmer, 2011) (emphasis mine)
The quote above sparked my interest as just recently in my Tech and Ethics class one brilliant student, Grace Wengler, had raised questions about the meaning of integrity. Wasn’t it culturally constructed? “Might someone NOT feel humiliation if they were never taught to be embarrassed?”
I searched for the meaning of integrity, out of curiosity to see what would come up.
To my surprise, the second Google dictionary definition mentioned “the state of being whole,” which was something I remembered reading in bell hooks:
“Denying the emotional presence and wholeness of students may help professors who are unable to connect focus more on the task of sharing information, facts, data, their interpretations, with no regard for listening to and hearing from students. It makes the classroom a setting where optimal learning cannot and will not occur.” (bell hooks, 2003) (emphasis mine)
Wholeness of students made me think of this great interview with Gardner Campbell, Educating the Whole Person. At the very beginning of the interview Gardner says:
“We are talking about lives. We are talking about minds. We are talking about ideally, As Randy Bass puts it, the whole person. And the whole person is much more than accessories bolted onto a body. It is about a life lived in space and time with the potential to touch many other lives.”
I mentioned the whole person in education in my dissertation but I didn’t explore the concept in depth and I didn’t have the opportunity to ask Gardner myself (I examined a course he co-designed and taught with a group of faculty at VCU). It was intriguing to come back to it almost a year after my defense. In the interview Gardner talks about how learning can be made personal with meaningful connections, he talks about the importance of“tapping into the very meaningful and deep ways to students’ disposition to connect,” and “[helping students] have an understanding of their own needs and identities”... Now I felt like I got a gist of this complex concept because it was discussed in context.
Still, I wanted to find out more about this so I followed Gardner’s shout out to Randy Bass and found really interesting resources, one of which is the Designing the Future(s) of the University project – described as “an integrative initiative engaging the whole Georgetown [university] community.“ And here below, I think I found good summary of educating the whole person. The italics in the quoted section reflect my thoughts:
“[The Formation by Design Project is] dedicated to shaping students to be fully human [so education is not all about the intellect], to cultivating their authentic selves [the relational selves, the way learners feel and live in the world], and to inhabiting a sense of personal responsibility for improving the world [working towards something larger than personal goals, ambitions]” (Formation of Design group).
From democracy to educating the whole person… there are interesting connections remain to be made…
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