DIALOGUE IN RADICAL HOSPITALITY: CREATING MEANING OF DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION THROUGH DIALOGIC COOKING by OFIRA ROLL B.Ed., Kibbutzim College of Education, 2002 M.A., University of Pittsburgh, 2009 A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Curriculum Studies) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) August 2019 © Ofira Roll, 2019 ii The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, the dissertation entitled: Dialogue in Radical Hospitality: Creating Meaning of Democratic Education through Dialogic Cooking submitted by Ofira Roll in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum Studies Examining Committee: Rita Irwin, Curriculum Studies Supervisor Shauna Butterwick, Education Studies Supervisory Committee Member William Pinar, Curriculum Studies Supervisory Committee Member Hsiao-Cheng Sandrine Han, Curriculum Studies University Examiner Samuel David Rocha, Educational Studies University Examiner Christine Ballengee Morris, External Examiner iii Abstract This study explores the playful dialogical process of creating meaning while cooking collaboratively with the teaching staff in a democratic school in Vancouver, British Columbia. All Kindergarten to Grade-12 staff members in the school were invited to participate in this study. Of the 22 staff, 16 chose to participate in yearlong gatherings in which we cooked collaboratively while sharing, reflecting, questioning, and creating meaning with one another’s practices, beliefs, and narratives. Through this artistic socially engaged and participatory research, a new meaning of democratic education was created together and apart. These methodologies invited the staff to be equal participants in complicated conversations within and beyond the walls of the school, as mentors, members in the community, teachers, friends, parents, artists, and at times participant researchers. The four gatherings throughout the year were video and audio-recorded. They included complicated conversations while collaborative cooking took place. The entry and exit small group interviews were also audio-recorded. Those gatherings and interviews assisted participants in creating a new meaning of democratic education for them as collective and as relational individuals. This study situated complicated conversations and cooking collaboratively as an inquiry that focused on creating meaning in which dialogue could engage the community with topics they deemed important. Through cooking and feasting together, we held the intention of creating trusted space with a sense of nurturing and hospitality in which we encountered difficult knowledge together while creating meaning of democratic education. This study may contribute to a greater understanding of democratic education. It offers the understanding that a school community (a) can support an ongoing process of dialogic culture; (b) benefits from engaging in an artistic collaborative process while sharing nurturing spaces that holds feasts; and (c) is capable of making democratic practices for personal growth, compassion, sense of agency, and democratic structures within a community, available and tangible for Kindergarten to Grade-12 students, staff, and families at the individual and collective spheres on the local and global level. iv Lay Summary Democratic education supports individual and the collective to explore, collaborate, and express their evolving self. In the context of this study, dialogue paves way to encounter each other authentically and to engage in complicated conversations and meaning making. Through collaborative cooking and feasting together, the shared experience offered us reflective pauses, challenged us to listen deeply, and allowed us to dwell in the becoming as individuals and as a collective. This process illuminated that openness, adaptiveness, unfinishness, humility, and community enable us to fully engage in an ongoing exploration for the sake of the journey in its own unique context. v Preface This thesis is original, independent work by the author, Ofira Roll. This thesis is, to the best of the author’s knowledge, unpublished, except where references are made to previous work (e.g., Roll, 2014, 2017a, 2017b). I designed and conducted the research process, analyzed the data, and wrote this dissertation following guidance from committee members and others whom I recognize in the Acknowledgements section of this report. This research received a certificate of approval from the University of British Columbia, Office of Research Services on November 9, 2015. The UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board certificate number is H15-02467. vi Table of Contents Abstract .................................................................................................................................................................. iii Lay Summary ....................................................................................................................................................... iv Preface ..................................................................................................................................................................... v Table of Contents ................................................................................................................................................ vi List of Figures ..................................................................................................................................................... viii Acknowledgements ........................................................................................................................................... ix Chapter 1: A Beginning ....................................................................................................................................... 1 Positioning Myself as a Democratic School Ally .................................................................................................... 9 Chapter 2: The Story of Windsor House Community and its Extended Democratic Education Family ............................................................................................................................................... 15 Windsor House ................................................................................................................................................................. 17 Democratic Education ................................................................................................................................................... 23 Chapter 3: Assembling Dialogue and Artistic Socially Engaged Collaboration ............................ 33 Understanding Dialogue ............................................................................................................................................... 34 Buber ............................................................................................................................................................................ 35 Bakhtin ......................................................................................................................................................................... 41 Arendt ........................................................................................................................................................................... 47 Bohm ............................................................................................................................................................................. 52 Biesta ............................................................................................................................................................................ 59 Artistic Socially Engaged Collaboration ................................................................................................................ 68 Chapter 4: Tabouleh Methodologies ........................................................................................................... 80 Being with A/r/tographic Inquiry ........................................................................................................................... 81 Democracy in Schools? What? ................................................................................................................................... 94 Undertaking the Study .................................................................................................................................................. 96 Stage 1: Small-group, unstructured entry interviews ............................................................................. 96 Stage 2: Group meetings while cooking collaboratively ........................................................................ 96 Stage 3: Small-group or individual unstructured exit interviews ...................................................... 97 First interview – December 9, 2015 ................................................................................................................ 97 Second interview – December 14, 2015 ........................................................................................................ 98 Third interview – December 15, 2015 ........................................................................................................... 99 Fourth interview – December 17, 2015 ......................................................................................................... 99 Fifth interview – January 11, 2016 ............................................................................................................... 100 Ingredients are ready for our cooking ........................................................................................................ 101 Chapter 5: I Am Here With You .................................................................................................................. 103 Individual, Collective, and Democratic ................................................................................................................ 107 Being With, Listening, and Assisting .................................................................................................................... 118 From Complicated Conversations to Dialogue ................................................................................................ 130 Interruption Wings Look for Adaptation Branches ....................................................................................... 140 Consent Culture and Dialogical Skill Set ............................................................................................................. 142 Reminding Us to Be Our Own Guest Within Hospitality ............................................................................. 146 Chapter 6: Radical Hospitality is the Host .............................................................................................. 154 Radical Hospitality Then and Now ....................................................................................................................... 159 Radical Hospitality in the Eyes of Democracy ................................................................................................. 163 vii Art as an Interruption—Laying the Groundwork for Dialogue ................................................................ 164 Radical Hospitality Meets Dialogue ...................................................................................................................... 168 Chapter 7: The End of the Beginning ....................................................................................................... 171 Salatim, Seh-oo-da, Teh, and Democratic Education .................................................................................... 174 Salatim ....................................................................................................................................................................... 174 Seh-oo-da ................................................................................................................................................................. 176 Teh .............................................................................................................................................................................. 178 How Can Democratic Education be Done and What is Next? .................................................................... 180 Be it and Live it .............................................................................................................................................................. 183 Future Thoughts ........................................................................................................................................................... 184 Future implications for Windsor House ..................................................................................................... 184 Future implications for mainstream education ...................................................................................... 184 Implications for future research .................................................................................................................... 187 Future implications for socially engaged art-based practices .......................................................... 187 Keeping a sense of awe, wonder, and gratitude ...................................................................................... 188 References ........................................................................................................................................................ 191 Appendix A: Invitation Letter ..................................................................................................................... 206 Appendix B: Consent Form .......................................................................................................................... 207 Appendix C: Unstructured Questions for Creating Meanings of Democratic Education Interview ........................................................................................................................................................... 210 Appendix D: Unstructured Questions Reflective Interview ............................................................. 211 viii List of Figures Figure 1. Becoming a tablecloth. Photo by Ofira Roll. ........................................................................... 1 Figure 2. Windsor House Welcome Sign. Photo by Ofira Roll. ....................................................... 15 Figure 3. Tabbouleh being. Photo by Ofira Roll. .................................................................................... 33 Figure 4. The human condition. By Ofira Roll. ....................................................................................... 38 Figure 5. Living metaphorically. Photo by Ofira Roll. ......................................................................... 80 Figure 6. Hospitality. Photo by Ofira Roll. .............................................................................................. 103 Figure 7. Radial Hospitality. Photo by Ofira Roll. .............................................................................. 154 Figure 8. Interruptions. Photo by Ofira Roll. ........................................................................................ 171 ix Acknowledgements Ido This journey of nurturing self in relation to others is a fruit of a trustful dialogue with you my dear partner, who is brave enough to continue exploring with me new meaning, new beginnings, and truths. Omile, Oreni, Yuvali Thank you for making me, Ee-ma. I am thankful for each day in my life with each of you. You invite me to come from my heart and always remind me to walk my talk. Miriam and Israel Cohen Ee-ma and Aba, I love you all my life. Dganiti, Meravi, Aharonile Growing up with each of you my sisters and brother has made me a better human. Memke You are the source of who I am. Joee, Liora, Debbile, Adriana, Jenny, Rosemary, Judith, Meghan, Maya, Tzipi, Kristi, Laurie, Sue On sunny days, on darker days, or on any other day, I feel hugged by your trust and wisdom to voice my voice in relation to yours in the world. Dora, Kerena, Yochile, Dorile My adopted sisters and brothers, my inner voice often checks what each of you would suggest at this moment. Ben-Shoshanim, Cohenim, Alperinim, Flicherim, Zagurim You are my tribe that I bring with me to any community I join or co-create. Yaacov and Shirley Thank you for inviting me years ago to the democratic education gang. Windsor House & Intentional Community Where I am welcome to be whatever I am in any given moment. Rita, Bill, Shauna Who choose to listen, challenge, inspire, and nurture. Friends and neighbours Who understand the small steps of daily life. Gloria Your practice and others at Semperviva made this journey possible, Sat Nam. Basia For believing in me that I will reach this moment from my first day at UBC. Shanaya Your support behind the scenes is appreciated. 1 Chapter 1: A Beginning Figure 1. Becoming a tablecloth. Photo by Ofira Roll. “The new beginning inherent in birth can make itself felt in the world only because the newcomer possesses the capacity of beginning something anew, that is, of acting” (Hannah Arendt, 1958, p. 9) 2 Sewing x after x realizing there are many ways to sew meaning. Sewing x after x. where dialogue and hospitality come together to create a new meaning of democratic education. At the beginning of making the tablecloth, I chose to do the same pattern over and over in the same way, until the sewing thread ended and I could restart from a different direction. It led me to a different pattern. A pattern that disturbs, interrupts, and creates an opportunity to a new way for meaning making. The new pattern, as in dialogue, invites unknowns, mistakes, and even failures. Sewing x after x, wonders come, x after x, is it a mistake or simply a different way of doing it, of being it, of understanding it? What is a failure and who is to define it as one? Continuing x after x sewing new meaning, new beginnings… I open this thesis with the Sewing X After X piece, which I wrote during my a/r/tographic journey. Making a tablecloth played a nurturing role within this lonely process of writing a dissertation, especially when relationality is discussed and studied but may not always be present in the lived experience (Irwin, 2004). I found making the tablecloth to be like the dialogical relationships I encountered at Windsor House where this study resides. The writing process of this study took place over several years. My understanding of dialogue, hospitality, artistic collaboration, democratic education, and radical hospitality developed over time, each developing during different phases in my inquiry. As Pinar (1994) describes the concept of curriculum as currere, my claim is that the writing of this dissertation is much like that of currere, as it reflects the past, continues on into the present, and considers the future. As Pinar’s (1994) notion of currere offers, in this process of writing, I slowed down, re-entered the past, and wrote whatever surfaced. Later, I turned to an imagined future that allowed me to conceive of what would come next in terms of understanding, questions, and hope. Next, I experienced an analytic moment, when I analyzed what arose from the past and what I had imagined for the future into an understanding of the present. Last, I re-entered the lived present and pulled it all together in writing. 3 Participants’ voices within this thesis, including mine, are justified toward the right side of the page, and all quotes are italicized. This same format is used for large quotations from others’ voices, such as theorists, philosophers, and educationalist; this is to remind readers of my understanding that the notion of “the right way to do or act” is not necessary in the story of Windsor House. Thus, each voice holds one vote, no matter what role one has in the study, in Windsor House, or in the world. I am aware of the fact that many would not experience the world in this way, given that power structures are present. However, I write with the view that each voice has one vote, no matter what. I chose this visual positioning purposefully, as it relates to many experiences I have had as a Hebrew speaker within an English-dominant culture. By justifying my writing to the right side of this thesis, I am encouraging readers to question: is it right to write on the right, is it wrong, or is it different? That being said, I am aware of the fact that it is neither right nor wrong. Given that my signature is in Hebrew, I sign from right to left, and I have heard people comment, “Oh, you sign from the wrong side.” I have to admit that here, in Vancouver, I tend to hear comments such as, “You sign from the other side.” Sometimes people use the terms opposite or different. This dissertation is contextualized and written at a particular time and place, that is, a transitional time to a new curriculum in elementary and secondary education in British Columbia. Moreover, I live and work on unceded and traditional territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səlil#wətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. I am also aware that many educational systems have been asked to focus on learning that is accountable and evidence based (Biesta, 2006). This has meant that educators and administrators have been asked to implement evidence-based strategies in which learning can be measured, categorized, compared, and labelled. As Biesta (2018) elaborates, They may well wonder how, in a rather short period of time, almost the entire globe became obsessed with measurable learning outcomes, with league tables, with comparison and competition, and with creating education systems that, in the name of lofty ambitions such as that every child supposedly matters, were actually producing 4 insurmountable hierarchies and inequalities where few could win and many would lose. (p. 12) The arguments about the importance of measurements and evidence in education establish an environment without much space for creating meaning, experiencing uncertainty, holding dialogue, doing art for the art’s sake (Biesta, 2018), and simply being. Windsor House is a lived example for a public school at which there is much space for creating meaning and doing art for creating new knowledge, all toward experiencing uncertainty. In the fall of 2015, the Province of British Columbia began a 3-year process of transitioning to a new curriculum. In parallel, the Vancouver School Board (VSB) followed the current regulations: as a result, new and old clashed with one another. This gradual transitioning to a student-centred education system holds the hope of meeting every student’s goals and needs. Yet, the VSB website declares, The goals of the revisions have included ensuring our students get the skills they need to succeed in our changing world, and making sure that teachers can deliver the curriculum efficiently and effectively. The number of learning outcomes has been reduced, providing more time and flexibility for students to explore topics in depth. (Government of British Columbia, n.d., para. 1) With those changes and goals, important questions still remain open. In what ways are the goals of the new curriculum different and innovative in relation to the previous curriculum? What does it offer to the education experience that was not there before? What new connections are made in the new curriculum to experiencing democratic principles beyond the individual skills and outcomes while securing a path to success that includes compassion, a sense of agency, and democratic structures within a community? In what ways does the new curriculum shift its main goals of what education produces to what education means? The new British Columbia (BC) curriculum goals use pedagogies of inquiry-based and self-regulated learning that may allow for a more flexible and innovative studying environment. At the same time, the new curriculum focuses a lot on individual experiences, knowledge, skills, outcomes, and the ability to succeed. It focuses mainly on 5 learning achievements with outcomes and structure as opposed to staying attuned to the process of experiencing and being in the world. Although the new BC curriculum brings grand ideas for future changes, which are computer-based individual study, economic adaptations are needed to meet these plans in schools. Many schools must focus on a lack of essential equipment such as computers before determining what to do with those computers (Woo, 2016). In addition, there is another important argument regarding this new curriculum, that is, this brand new curriculum is informed by neoliberal agenda that devaluated the role of teachers, as Steeves (2012) discusses, A Vision for 21st Century Education promotes a vision of schooling that is largely a neoliberal and managerialist enterprise that relegates teachers and teaching to subordinate roles within processes of policy development and policy implementation … a vision for 21st Century Education: ‘learnification’ translates and reduces public education to terms of ‘learners’ and ‘learning,’ and ‘accountingization’ re-imagines teachers’ work as ‘that which can be counted.’ (p. ii) It is important to notice that the new curriculum still offers purposes and goals of the previous philosophy of education. Schools are still asked to outline what they can offer to students and are not asked to inquire and explore with students. Alongside mainstream education, there are alternative systems. One of these systems is known as Democratic Education—an alternative to the learning marathon that is offered by mainstream schools. Democratic school characteristics include, for instance, no grades but personal evaluations, no set class schedules but individual schedules, no hierarchical punishments but community government with rules that can be changed by members of all ages in the school community (Hecht, 2010). This study explored a specific democratic school in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Windsor House School. I have been granted permission to identify the school by its name. As a democratic school, it has similar characteristics to democratic schools worldwide. As described on the Windsor House website, the core principles of Windsor House School are “profound respect, self- 6 determination, democratic governance, multi-age grouping, parent participation, freedom with responsibility, [and] accountability” (Windsor House School, n.d., para. 2). At first, this research came together as a community-based project, one that employed participatory research practices, taking place as an a/r/tographic inquiry focused on specific aspects within democratic education. Over time, the project became an artistic socially engaged participatory collaborative inquiry, in which the participants and I explored the following research questions that were raised and reshaped by participants and myself: • What does democratic education mean to Windsor House staff in the process of doing (praxis), knowing (theoria), and making (poesis)? • What roles do dialogue and communal aspects play in democratic education? • In what ways does cooking together influence the process of creating meaning, enabling dialogue, and creating community? These questions were important for understanding the complexity of democratic education, and more specifically teaching in such a school. This complexity brought together democratic mechanisms and everyday life experiences. The democratic mechanism is comprised of rules and agreements created by members in the community regarding how they should treat one another and how they should approach (dis)agreements through dialogue. Exploring these ideas with participants raised questions related to work in a democratic school, dialogue, collaboration, and community. As such, the notion of dialogue in this study is part of many complicated conversations (Pinar, 2003) that concentrate on intersubjective processes in which participants are asked to encounter each other through dialogue. The notion of complicated conversation includes dialogue with interruptions. As Biesta (2015b) explains, the challenge in dialogue is to be in the middle ground, in which one can experience resistance without reaching the moment of having too much pressure so they may choose to withdraw. The challenge in dialogue, Biesta (2015b) continues, is to be together with the world while knowing that it is different from you. Biesta (2018) adds, 7 To exist as subject is about what we do and about what we refrain from doing. It is, in short, not about who we are, but about how we are or, more realistically, how we are trying to be.… Existing as subject thus requires that we try to exist in dialogue with what and who is other – in the world without occupying the centre of the world.… To exist as subject thus means that one is “turned” towards the world or, in educational terms, that one is being turned towards the world, that one is being shown the world. (p. 15) This study also offered artistic social engaged collaboration through cooking. In this study, all Windsor House educators were invited to participate in four collaborative cooking and conversational gatherings across the school year of 2016–2017. During these gatherings, cooking and other forms of food preparation offered space and hospitality that I hoped would be embodied, holistic, and aesthetic. The experience of cooking as a creative process while conversing about democratic education engages all of our five senses simultaneously, making for a highly sensory experience. Collaborative cooking offers an artistic way of being together and experiencing a sense of dialogue, as well as exploring and researching the process of creating meaning of democratic education through pedagogical practices that involve the process of doing (praxis), knowing (theoria), and making (poesis). The participants (school staff members) and I (not a staff member) accomplished this by being together, cooking, listening, sharing, feasting, and questioning our stories. As my grandmother, Memeh, claimed (and I grew to believe), food brings people together and enables individuals to have conversations and (dis)agreements. In other words, individuals are able to remain in the middle ground that Biesta (2015b) describes. My grandmother, Memeh, grew up in Morocco, a country with a constitutional monarchy, where a democratic mechanism was not in place. Her way for reaching out to overcome (dis)agreements and cultivate new thoughts was through food preparation and sharing. For her, food offered hospitality while cultivating a sense of being together and dealing with difficulties, whereas in a democratic culture rules might set the tone for ‘fixing things’ and is less based on personal communications. It is not to say that one needs to live in a non-democratic culture to be hospitable, but rather to say that democratic culture may promote and support 8 interactions amidst differences. As Bronwen, a Windsor staff member, shared (personal communication, February 2, 2019), Being out in the community and world at large, … [we] need[ed] to become more interdependent as well as independent, and underlying issues could not be simplified or unexplored. The result for some groups was that there actually seemed to be, from my perspective, more real integration and exploration of how to do that in a way that lifts everyone up (and we then get to feel how good that feels and how everyone benefits) and really sees everyone on a deeper level and in the moment resolving of issues that needed to not go to JC [Justice Committee] but needed real experiential understanding of the challenges that we are each facing in every moment and how empowering it is to get to see that we are the solution. This too often does not get reflected on or shared in a JC, where there isn’t necessarily a strong connection to the event for all involved. To me this is more reflective of perhaps a more Indigenous/village approach to repairing relationships and connection as a whole group because we need everyone to be healthy for the well being of all. From creating meaning to collaborating artistically, my personal journey comes into play in different forms as a/r/tographic processes unfold. I found that my personal reflection provided a space to experience a middle ground in situations that created educational opportunities, indicating that the world wanted to teach me something. This is the middle ground that Biesta (2015b) refers to as experiencing grownupness, in which I question whether what I seek is desirable according to self in relation to others. It is in this middle ground that the ongoing challenge of dialogue exists (Biesta, 2015b). From my perspective, coming to know others’ needs in relation to one’s own needs brings people closer to a dialogical space, a space in which each other’s needs provides a context for the dialogue to happen. Sewing x after x, walking the path of being together. X after x, nurturing a sense of togetherness with the intention of starting a dialogue. X after x, creating togetherness that requires continuity, in the age of ongoing transitions, changes, voices, beliefs, and borders, a continuity that nurtures trust. For instance, during the process of writing this dissertation I encountered health difficulties. This led me to question whether I was able to remain in this middle ground, to continue in the challenge of dialogue, or to 9 withdraw. It has not been an easy choice to stay engaged for the entirety of the dissertation research. There were days when writing with so much pain in my body made me wonder whether I should continue. What does this pain tell me? How does it connect to dialogue and my experiences with hospitality? Does it have to do with circulation—circulation of thoughts, encounters, giving, and receiving? Does it relate to self-acceptance? Or could it be an invitation to meet the oppression within me that stops me now? Does it matter that I would write this thesis? Biesta (2015b) raises a similar question: “When does it matter that I am I?” (12:50). His question occupied my heart and mind during this struggle. I came to understand that it is important to continue listening to one’s voice and pain in order to be able to continue the circulation of one’s ideas with others so that the conversation is not one sided. My lived experience has taught me that self-acceptance and careful listening within might invite others to share their experiences with the world. Biesta’s (2015b) question of “when does it matter that I am I?” continued to occupy my mind and heart months later, while I took care of my grandmother, Memeh, in her last weeks in the physical world. This crystalized for me one week, because, after having cared for my grandmother everyday for weeks, I had to miss one day, and my sister offered to go in my stead. When my sister arrived to help and be with her, Memeh was upset it was not me. Memeh could not explain to my sister why it made any difference but she insisted it was different and she needed me right then. This experience made another crack in my heart and furthered my understanding of deep listening for when does it matter that I am I and what is my voice: something I had oppressed for years in my studies and my personal life. Questions such as who am I, why me, and what do I want to share in and with the world remain open. Positioning Myself as a Democratic School Ally Although my first degree in this field of study was in Creative Education and included a Democratic Education certificate, my journey as a child began and ended within the mainstream education system. My unsettled education years, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, led me to promise myself to always question and strive to change mainstream 10 education norms. I continued to draw on those early experiences and my personal promise while undertaking this study. I hear my inner voice asking myself to continue being present; to continue dialoguing with deep listening for what truly comes; to gratefully respect and celebrate my interconnected playful spirit despite fears, walls, and judgment; to value freedom with responsibilities; to allow myself to reveal rhizomatic relationships and connections between living beings, their food, and their surroundings. My experience with Windsor House over the last few years prepared me for this moment. This is my own voice. I wrote it while reflecting on and writing about this study with Windsor House educators. Certainly, I have a very personal connection and deep interest in democratic education as an educator, a mother, and a democratic activist. Despite this personal connection, I continued checking myself and questioning my understanding to ensure I stayed open and was a responsible researcher. Although there are many differences between democratic schools around the world, I suggest that a few similarities could typically be found among them. One characteristic is the notion of open dialogue within the school community, which includes students, parents or other significant adults, and educators/facilitators/staff (preferred by many over the term teachers). This dialogue is outward as well as inward. The dialogue is a crucial part within complicated conversations in which exist in democratic education. As a former educator in a democratic school in Israel, I came to this study curious and eager to explore dialogue in democratic education. It is interesting to mention that, at first, I found my visits to democratic schools to be somewhat unfulfilling, to say the least. It was before I joined the democratic education teachers’ program, which was held one full day, once a week for an academic year. This program was part of a 4-year bachelor degree in creative education. This democratic education teachers’ program, located in the first democratic school in Israel, Hadera, became a turning point for me. I experienced first hand how it feels and what it means to be a student in such a school. There, I could open up to the possibilities, fears, and limitations of democratic education. Within that program, I encountered the beauty and difficulty of being in dialogue. At first, when I experienced discomfort in the 11 democratic school, I felt confident claiming that it was an irresponsible approach to education. That experience has enabled me to remain open to those who may make similar claims to my past views (from 20 years prior) and who are open to engaging in complicated conversations. Through my experiences as a democratic educator in a democratic school in Israel and later on as a democratic educator in North America, spanning private and public settings, I have come to appreciate all that dialogue offers. In this thesis, I study the notion of dialogue through five thinkers who developed broad understandings of dialogue. My rationale for selecting these five scholars is a combination of what aspects of dialogue interest them as well as the time and place they were writing in, which offers a continual context for recent years of dialogue studies. I am aware of the unequal representation in my choice of women and men and would like to make it clear that it does not represent any hidden purpose of giving more voice to men. These five thinkers do not create a clear theoretical framework; however, they do play an important role in creating meaning through dialogue and in determining how to establish a nourishing environment for dialogue, which are ultimately important in understanding this study. Among these five authors, I want to acknowledge Biesta’s main influence on my perspective, understanding, and writing about dialogue in education and its importance in democratic education. The other four thinkers are added to address specific issues through dialogue. These issues, which will be discussed in depth later in the thesis, include concepts such as Arendt’s (1958) ideas of the need of action in order to begin again, with her notion of the encounter; Buber’s (1996) idea of the openness of the I–Thou, with his notion of being engaged in the moment without judgment and interest to gain or receive something in return; Bakhtin’s (1965) concept of carnival, which enables the questioning of language boundaries and limitations; Bohm’s (1985, 2004) understanding of fragmentation as an obstacle for dialogue (thus, dialogue is not a sum of interactions between participants, but a holistic process of relational connections). I, therefore, came to this study with the questions of what does dialogue offer within democratic education and how does it differ from other educational systems? Once I had become an educator in the mainstream system, it was difficult for me to articulate and reflect on the meaning of democratic education for myself and for others 12 who asked me about it. Thus, it led me to a journey, for 18 years to be exact, of studying democratic education on practical, artistic, and theoretical levels. In this process, my interest became clearer to me. It is the dialogue in democratic education that fascinates me the most—dialogue as a liminal space, in which the in-between interconnected space is invited, and as an uncontrolled and open-ended space of the in-between. To put it simply, complicated conversations are welcome not for the sake of knowing the answer or what or who is right but for being together in this ongoing exploration of old and new ideas, feelings, and issues. Inviting the liminal space in which things are not set up or controlled, the space in which listening and thinking together and apart could exist. Although dialogue is not recognized as one of the core principles in the philosophy of many democratic schools I am familiar with, it exists in different forms without being named as such. Thus, in coming to understand democratic education at Windsor House School, this study was received by the Windsor House staff in a similar manner: as an opportunity to reflect upon the experiences of what democratic education means to each person in relation to their peers. During the informal pre-study conversations I found that despite having weekly staff meetings and daily hallway chats almost all staff expressed their desire for a new opportunity and a different way of being together. Many welcomed gatherings that encouraged conversations and collaborative cooking. Several veteran participants mentioned that several years back they used to spend more time together in open-ended gatherings during which they had time to be with one another without necessarily attending to goals and specific intentions. As this study unfolded, I realized that dialogue is a form of encountering plurality, and thus, as Arendt (1958) offers, is one of the core principles of democracy. My personal interest in understanding dialogue among staff members at Windsor House, allowed the participants and me to explore democratic education in an open-ended approach. As an educator, I both practise and study the notion of dialogue, and I have done so as a nomadic educator, one who moves countries, uses a different language from her mother tongue, and has explored different cultures. Being a nomadic educator showed me the way within the dialogue challenge. Immigration brings its own challenges and its own gifts. In my experience, being an immigrant means constantly living in the midst of translation. At the 13 beginning of my journey as a new immigrant I listened to all languages, spoken, non-verbal, as well as to my personal interpretations based on the cultures and norms I encountered and experienced in my life. The process of creating meaning in a new place started my journey of exploring dialogue. At times I got lost in translation, and sometimes I had new insights for locals thanks to my ability to listen as openly as possible as well as to share a new perspective. This has allowed me to be reborn and to relearn listening and collaborating. Being constantly in the midst of translation has invited me to dialogue from an authentic place, listening to words with more attention and respect. At times, I encounter the power of words with pauses as part of the conversation. As my grandma Memeh often said, “Put the knife down and let the other pick it up,” as if to say, create this pause, pay attention, invite the heart, and give respect to the moment between us as we lay the ground for dialogue to grow. However, I have been paying attention to the differences in my listening in my mother tongue in comparison to my listening as a nomadic immigrant educator. I find that being in a comfort zone in terms of language and culture requires extra effort to remain open to active careful listening. Thus, I am writing this dissertation as a granddaughter, daughter, sister, partner, mother, friend, artist, and a democratic educator. I was born and raised in a questionable democratic society, called Israel by many, which taught me that living democratically, while being aware of my privilege, could become more real than living the ideal. The ideal of democracy, as a subjective matter, brings questions of what is ideal and to whom, since it is not a fixed or known notion to all. Thus, the question that should be followed and be explored in this context is what is the ideal and how does it differ from living democratically? In a way, my personal experience of living democratically at Windsor House went hand in hand with my personal experience and understanding of ideal of democracy. As Bronwen, a staff member, claimed (personal communication, February 2, 2019): We had opportunities as students, staff, and as a community to be visible and engage in the larger world and navigate that but also share the vision and possibility that can exist in lifelong education and community for a world that desperately needs experimentation and innovation and figuring out why the so-called democracy that we live in is so broken. 14 Thus, an important question to raise in this context is, what could one learn in exploring the notion of ideal democracy versus the case of lived experience in democracy? It comes from my own personal experience as a citizen in Israel, which was far from ideal. The term ideal democracy encompasses fundamental human rights for all, gender equality, voting equality, citizens’ control of the agenda, plurality, freedom of expression, and so forth. Thus, the experience in Windsor House encouraged me to be engaged in dialogue about democracy, dialogue, and the importance of plurality. In this study the notion of living democratically is central and is taken up through collaborative cooking. While preparing a meal together, Windsor House educators and I hoped to create conditions for living democratically: we accepted notions of plurality and, in particular, supported the dialogic process and its need of an ongoing active listening that exists in an interruptive reality that encourages adaptations. 15 Chapter 2: The Story of Windsor House Community and its Extended Democratic Education Family Figure 2. Windsor House Welcome Sign. Photo by Ofira Roll. “The new beginning inherent in birth can make itself felt in the world only because the newcomer possesses the capacity of beginning something anew, that is, of acting” (Hannah Arendt, 1958, p. 9) 16 Will, trust, desire, place, Want and do not know why Believe that there is how, With desire of togetherness Bodies in a place and out of it Dwelling in the space to the path The first step in a place Being afraid to be there together It could be surprising Out of our control and our co/awareness Want and do not know why Bodies in a place and out of it Being afraid to be there together Give a hand and start Do not know to where Will, trust, desire, place, With desire of togetherness It could fall apart Believe that there is how And do not know why Out of control Out of co/awareness Out of togetherness Bodies being afraid together And a part Will, desire, place, trust, Where to and why? Listen to the body and to the bodies around Listen to the will and to the fear Inside. 17 In this chapter, I intend to explore notions of democratic education in the context of dialogue and collaboration, as this topic first arose during my pilot study and later resurfaced during the study itself. The chapter begins with the story of Windsor House, followed by a description of a day at the school. The second part of this chapter provides an overview of democratic education, its common practices, and its social premises. Windsor House Democratic education could be introduced in many different ways since its practices are varied. My intention in this section is to introduce and to offer some insights into the material world of Windsor House, the building where it was housed, the students, the staff, the school community, and the curriculum. Before I do so, I want to share a staff member’s statement about Windsor House demographics in a personal conversation we had in March 2019: I said that Windsor House is a relatively accurate representation of the wider city and culture around us, except for the fact that there is very little racial diversity, because traditionally, families of colour haven’t chosen Windsor House. And there is a slight skew towards a radical left sort of hippie population that is inherently feels comfortable with free-schooling before having any exposure to it or actively seeking it out. … but Windsor House, [it] also has a slight leaning towards some marginalized communities that feel safer in Windsor House, like the community of transgender, bisexual, gay, lesbian families and parent groups, as well as students who are let’s say gender non-conforming, who find Windsor House to be a safe space. (David) To add to David’s description, the aspects he refers to in terms of students and parents are relevant to educators/teachers/mentors in Windsor House. At the time the research took place, there was little racial diversity among Windsor House staff (i.e., most staff members are white) and several educators/teachers/mentors identified themselves as LGBTQ. Also, in terms of political orientation, most staff were located on the political spectrum toward the radical left. In terms of socioeconomic status, the majority of Windsor 18 House community would be located as lower or middle working class. As in any community, there are a few families who could be classified as falling the ends of the spectrum. Last, the dominant spoken language among Windsor House families is English, with few exceptions such as Spanish, French, and Hebrew. To give a feel for daily life in Windsor House, I offer the following description as a general introduction to the school. I want to emphasize that this short description was written by me, and it is only one out of many that may represent one day for an individual associated with the school. It is early morning in East Van. Most stores are not yet open though a few coffee shops are open. A group of friends from Windsor House are waiting for their school bus. The ride takes a while with several pick-up stops and morning traffic to North Van. The radio adds sound that holds space for everyone to wake up at their own pace. It was not like that all the years at Windsor House. In its beginning, Windsor House operated only with a few families and there were no school buses or even a school building. At first, Windsor House was founded in 1971 by Helen, and children attended school in her own house. Helen had taught in mainstream education until she felt that her daughter, Meghan, might fare better in a different environment. Later in life, that daughter called Meghan, became a staff member in Windsor House and currently she is the principal. Back then, Windsor House was more of an extended family than a school. Not so today, as there are almost 200 students enrolled. Back to the morning ride to North Van with the school bus… Students arrive at Windsor House to see the entrance sign that says, “WINDSOR HOUSE – ROOM TO GROW AND BE YOURSELF.” There, they meet several staff and friends who arrived moments earlier by public transit, driving, walking, or biking. As they enter, each student signs in on the clipboard right in the entranceway. 19 Each student has the responsibility to sign in and out as often as needed during the day. This is because, at Windsor House, children are free to wander both in and outdoors. The day starts without a particular announcement or gathering. It may be important to mention here that at Windsor House there are no bells. There are also no tests and no grades. This school runs differently, with many choices, proposals, conversations, meetings, and free flow. The beginning of the day is different for each student, as it is based on personal choices. Several students start their day on one of the sofas around the building—small talks begin with morning snacks; others go the library to grab a book; others go to the Flying Pig, which is a small room where more personal conversations take place; others go to a class in the “The Box” for ‘classic academics’; others go the lab to experiment or paint, or build with Lego, or to work on a project they are working on for a while; others go to the gym; others go to the theater; others go to The Cottage, which is a designated area for younger children (it is important to mention that everyone is welcome to spend some time with younger friends or play a board game or dress-up at the cottage); others go to the open field and to the creek inside the forest; others go to the kitchen, which is called by many the Community Room. In the kitchen, there is a piano, sofas, recipe books, all the tools and appliances one would ever need for all sorts of cooking and baking, with a huge table and many chairs around. Twice a week there is a cooking day, when many gather together to cook with one staff member and a parent volunteer. Just next to the entrance of the building, there is a room on the right, in front of the office, which is called The BMR (i.e., the big muscles room). In the BMR children take lots of energy out with running, jumping, and pillow fights. There is always an adult sponsor in the room in case someone gets injured. In The Office there is a staff member who manages the administrative side of the school. At Windsor House this position is more than a secretary—much more than that since there are many field trips, events, special activities, visitors, etc. Next to The Office there is Megan’s Office, since ‘the principal’s office’ does not fit the spirit of the school. As Principal, Meghan is there to listen and to help with conflicts 20 and other needs. She is there to support the community and is not viewed as an authority that children are expected to be afraid of. There are few more small rooms with multiple purposes. There is one with lots of craft materials and sewing machines and another room with technology that is available for all when needed. For the outdoors, if one or more students want to go out, they require only two things: they must sign out and they must have a sponsor (i.e., a staff member with them). Outside the building, there is a community garden and a small friendly wooden playground. Next to the parking lot, there is a huge open field where children love running and playing. This description so far simply gives the feel of the school. However, the question that many visitors are interested about is how all this works. It is important to clarify that in Windsor House children do not have to attend classes. They choose to join or not to join classes, which are offered on regular basis. In order to stay updated, there is a huge board with all school offerings. Children who choose to attend a class need to independently ensure they arrive on time at the right place for that class. One of the only required activities is the bi-weekly school council. There all students, staff, and community members gather to propose new ideas or to suggest updates for existing rules and resolutions. Each person at the school council has an equal vote, Kindergarteners and educators alike. At Windsor House, nothing is written in stone; all resolutions are replaceable if the community agrees that the change needed. It is also important to note that Windsor House is a parent participation school. This means that parents take an important role in the success of the school. Parents are expected to attend mandatory Parent Advisory Council meetings throughout the year. They are also invited to volunteer several times during the year at work-parties, that is, cleaning and upgrading work for the school or to give a hand in Windsor house 21 school’s theater shows with stage decoration and creation of costumes. Another way is to help with community events such as Winter Faire, potlucks, organize talks for parents, give workshops at school, sponsor field trips, and many more options. Parents also have other options to make connections within the community besides drop off and pick up times, as such as, the ‘Tea with Helen’ every Friday morning. This tea is a gathering of parents to chat about educational and parental questions that come up while raising children in a democratic school and beyond. Like their children, the parents at Windsor House have many options to choose from if they wish. For example there is a weekly option to join the Coywolves and Forest School. Both are outdoor programs with walks, explorations, stories, and games. Other options include volunteering at social studies classes; theater; academics such as math and English; wood workshops; history; and philosophy. Many times the classes offered do not cover one single subject but are instead several combined together, since there is no reason to create this division. The school meets the requirements of the mainstream curriculum in its own unique ways. This is similar to Pinar’s (1994) concept of curriculum as currere, which is a lived curriculum. As Pinar (1994) explains, It is regressive-progressive-analytical-synthetic. It is, therefore, temporal and conceptual in nature, and it aims for the cultivation of a developmental point of view that hints at the transtemporal and transconceptual. From another perspective, the method is the self-conscious conceptualization of the temporal, and from another, it is the viewing of what is conceptualized through time. So it is that we hope to explore the complex relation between the temporal and conceptual. In doing so we might disclose their relation to the Self and its evolution and education. At Windsor House, students and staff examine the past and future possibilities while beginning to synthesize them into a biographical present. For instance, several times a year there are simulation games, or sim games, in which children and staff study history, geography, economics, drama, social skills, language arts, and much more. They play a different time in history with all the requirements of 22 that time. Each of them is invited to bring personal past experiences into the playing/studying as well as future imaginations. Sometimes thirty children take part in the sim games, at times including most of the school. The sim game is an example for the multi-age grouping. In the city of the sim game one could find children from the cottage through the high school children. Another different rather special support children have at Windsor House is the personal advisor for each child. Each child chooses one staff member to be her/his/their advisor. The advisor is there to support the child’s journey in the school in all aspects (e.g. emotional, social, and academic). In addition to daily life encounters, the advisor meets the child and parent’s several times a year to set goals and have conversations about any issues that arise for the student or for others in relation to the student. In relation to sim games, at Windsor House there are several theater productions during a school year. Those are picked or written by students, as well as, directed, played, staged, and designed by students of all ages. It is the most multi-aged lived experience in Windsor House. Also, in support of students, there is the JC, which is the Justice Committee. Issues are passed on to the JC when situations in which students and staff cannot reach a resolution to a conflict or disagreement. To bring an issue to the JC, any community member (student, staff, or parent) writes a complaint and places it in the JC box. All community members involved are invited to a meeting to discuss the issue at hand. The JC is run by students and a staff member and students can volunteer to be part of JC. I originally wrote this story about Windsor House as I began my study. However, the school changed in the summer of 2016, when I was no longer onsite conducting this study but was in the writing phase. Thus, it is important to mention that I did not revise the story after having completed the study and after the school transitioned to being multi-campus. Following that summer, the school community had to move out of their North Vancouver location to an unknown future. The big move out of the school brought many changes that are not discussed in this study. 23 On September 2016, Windsor House started a new journey in a multi-campus format. This change happened because School District 44 (North Vancouver) was no longer able to lease the school building, as it was slated to be demolished. In practice, it means that on any given day there are several locations students could go to. All sign ups happen in advance online. As a result, most communication has moved to a website that only community members can access. In the old building (where this study took place), there were opportunities for more multi-age offerings in one building and it has been a challenge to not have access to the whole staff together in the new, multi-campus setting, and to build relationships that hold a collective space. A special flow was possible in the old form of the school, in which everyone was at the same location, since changes and adaptations with and among educators and students could happen on the spot. This form included more diverse unplanned interactions, personal and democratic practices, and more pluralistic experiences. However, it is important to mention that with the current format of the school there are many new opportunities. In the multi-campus setting, the staff have more of an opportunity to unpack what each other really have to contribute if they were working together. This format also offers opportunities to recognize the deep differences that were there all along and only came out in the new situation of separation. In the multi-campus setting, students can sign up for different locations or spaces, such as days at the farm, a maker space, and the theater programs that runs in a real theater. The new format represents the ongoing interruptions and the need for adaptations, which will be explored in depth later on in this thesis. Now, during its third school year in multi-campus setting, the school community continues to search for a school building that can accommodate all students and staff. Democratic Education Diverse literature addresses the topic of democratic education. In this thesis, I refer to democratic education and allude to the notion of democracy in terms of individual rights, liberty, happiness, duties, self-determination, and freedom in relation to its community. Democratic education is governed by the people for the people in protection of people’s rights and needs, in which all people have a voice. As Sadofsky (2019) notes, and many do not grasp as newcomers, 24 Sudbury schools are governed democratically, and that is indeed wicked cool, but the way kids see it is not so abstract. They aren’t thinking all the time about the way a democracy works, and yet what they see is that they are in control of what happens to them, and to the atmosphere of their community. That is a powerfully maturing concept. These are the enormous life lessons … We feel that Sudbury schools offer students an education that is grounded in empowerment, growing competence, and the confidence gained from being able to hold your own with a group of people in a high-powered environment. And this kind of education is more likely to afford the flexibility the world demands from self-actualized 21st century adults. (para. 4–8) Sadofsky (2019) refers to Sudbury, which is a democratic school, as a democratic lived experience, where children above all are people, not merely learners. As such, democracy is not known as definite specific notion. This concept is based on values such as empowerment, growing competence, and having a flexible mindset. To continue Sadofsky’s understanding of the position of kids/people/students in democratic education, Biesta (2009a) emphasizes the difference between the terms learner, student, and speaker within education versus emancipatory education. Biesta (2009a) notes that the notion of emancipatory education starts from the assumption that student is a speaker who has the ability, right, and something to share and is not perceived as a learner, who must lack something that is needed to be learnt. Thus, in order to get rid of the circle of powerlessness of a learner or a student, the starting assumption should be equality, in which students are viewed as speakers from the beginning of the interaction. Much has been written about people’s personal journeys and experiences, with several overarching academic articles and books being published (e.g., Hern, 2003; Lucas, 2011; Mercogliano, 2007). Therefore, it is important first to provide background on this type of education in a historic, educational, and cultural context. To begin, in the early 1920s, there were very few innovative schools, and those that existed were independent and stood as localized innovations. Two notable examples were the Korczak Orphanage, named Home for Orphans (located in Poland from 1912–1942), and Summerhill school 25 (located in England from 1921–present). The Home for Orphanage was established in Warsaw for Jewish children and later, during the Nazi occupation of Poland, relocated inside the Warsaw Ghetto. This home ran in much the same way as the democratic schools of today do; that is, children and adults had responsibilities, rights, and experienced the sense of freedom (Medvedeva-Nathoo, 2012). Korczak valued children as human beings who deserve respect. He argued that one of the core principles of social justice, which became an important axiom in democratic education, is the right of children to be respected (Medvedeva-Nathoo, 2012). Korczak established the Home for Orphanage as democratic out of necessity, knowing the children’s parents were not able to be there to protect them and voice their needs and wishes. Korczak’s place served as home, school, and extended family for all. It had a parliament, justice system, and responsibilities that applied to individuals of all ages, including Korczak himself. Many educators in the global democratic education community still refer to Korczak’s place as the beginning of democratic education. Alongside, there was another alternative school in England, named Summerhill. This democratic school, also known as a free school, is a boarding school and community of approximately 100 people. It includes children aged between 5 and 17 and adults. As is stated on the school website: The important freedom at Summerhill is the right to play. All lessons are optional. There is no pressure to conform to adult ideas of growing up, though the community itself has expectations of reasonable conduct from all individuals. Bullying, vandalism or other anti-social behaviour is dealt with on-the-spot by specially elected ombudsmen, or can be brought to the whole community in its regular meetings. (Summerhill, n.d., para. 14) Although these schools are similar to current democratic schools, it is important to note that both institutions, Korczak and Summerhill, did not have the parent component as an integral part of daily life. In the democratic schools that have followed, parents play an important role in the school community. In the 1960s, alternative schools began to extend to the United States and England. In the beginning they were not classified as democratic schools but had different names such as Sudbury Valley School, free schools, open schools, and alternative schools. It was only in the late 1980s when a school was first named a 26 democratic school—the Democratic School of Hadera, Israel—coined by Yaacov Hecht. As is mentioned on the school website, “The Democratic School of Hadera was established in 1987 by a group of parents and young educators” (Democratic School of Hadera, n.d.-a., para. 1) who wished to create together a school that would give its pupils “freedom of choice in learning and other activities while experiencing daily life in a democratic framework” (Democratic School of Hadera, n.d.-a, para. 1). Today, 32 years after it was founded, the school belongs to the Israeli Ministry of Education System, functioning as a non-regional school with approximately 400 students from 4 to 18 years of age (Democratic School of Hadera, n.d.-a). Although there is no local or global desire among democratic education communities to create any sort of definition or a vision statement of democratic education, I find the following statement from the Democratic School of Hadera’s (n.d.-b) website suitable to many democratic schools around the globe: The school views its students as complete human beings and allows them to focus, from a young age, on what is important to all human beings—acquiring self-knowledge, setting goals, and acquiring the requisite skills to realize them. It is freedom of choice that enables the students to experience a deep sense of autonomy, sovereignty, and self-worth, and these intensify the child’s inner strengths. Each one of us has different skills and talents, types of intelligence, learning pace or motivation. We try to encourage each and every student to fully realize her or his potential while taking individual desires and talents into account. The fundamental belief that every child can excel at something helps us to accompany each one on a journey of self-discovery while trying, at the same time, to ascertain the child’s talents and aspirations. (para. 5) Following in the footsteps of the Hadera democratic school, during the 1990s, the term democratic school became more popular and many schools adopted this name (Hecht, 2010; R. Miller, 2007). The first wave of democratic schools were perceived as problematic and were criticized by two opposing sides of the political spectrum in the United States—the republicans (conservatives) as well as by social democrats (progressives)—for not 27 supporting democratic society in the way those criticizing the schools believed it should be done (R. Miller, 2007). The conservatives believe in a controlled society in which children should be schooled and should not take part fully in participatory democracy, especially in schools. As R. Miller (2007) clarifies: A defining feature of conservative political and social thought is its mistrust of pure democracy.… Untamed human impulses are not trusted. If children are not schooled in the rules of capitalism, republican citizenship, and morality, there would be anarchy, levelling (an attack on private property), and social upheaval. (para. 7) On the other hand, for the progressives, the critique was based upon a belief in public education, as opposed to child-centred approaches, which may lead to competitive individualism. Dewey (1938), for example, criticizes the child-centred approach in Experience and Education. This first wave of democratic schools connected with Dewey’s opinion in different ways and included approximately 1,000 schools across the United States as well as some in Europe. Back then they were not called democratic schools. Many of those schools did not survive public pressure from different groups in the society. However, in the early 1990s, a new blossoming of democratic schools gradually took place. In 1993, the first International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC) was held, which was initially called the Hadera Conference (Hecht, 2010). This conference took place in Israel with 40 participants and marked the beginning of a global democratic education community (Hecht, 2010). From then until today, democratic education has become a global phenomenon that offers an alternative for mainstream education. IDEC gathers educators every year on a different continent, with participants from hundreds of schools around the world who locate themselves within the wide spectrum of democratic education. The 24th IDEC took place in April 2017 in Israel and included approximately 3,000 educators from 30 countries worldwide (Alternative Education Resource Organization, 2017). On the subject of philosophy of democratic schools, the IDEC 2017 website states, Every one of us is unique and special and carries with him/her an irreplaceable gift to the world. To sustain a thriving and peaceful human society we must aspire to have 28 each and every one of us find and express his/her uniqueness. The premise is that a person who is in a meaningful quest to shape his/her identity and feels supported in this quest and that his/her inner-self is appreciated would be able to appreciate the uniqueness of those around him/her and to support them in expressing it. The democratic education is aimed at enabling the individual and the group to explore, develop, and express their uniqueness. The best “user manual” for realizing these goals is the Bill of Human Rights. The Freedom of Thought and Expression; The Right to Free Movement; The Right to Equality and Recognition … are all crucial for nurturing and developing an independent, creative, and socially-aware human being. (IDEC, 2017, “The Philosophy,” para. 1–3) The democratic school that was the focus of this study, Windsor House, takes an active role in this international community and hosted the 16th IDEC in 2008. I attended this conference, and it gave me my first opportunity to get to know this school community on a more personal level. “At the moment there are about 1000 schools around the world which call themselves democratic schools” (European Democratic Education Community Greece, n.d., para. 1). Those can be found in 36 countries (Alternative Education Resource Organization, n.d.), including Ukraine, Israel, Poland, South Korea, Brazil, Japan, Holland, and the USA, just to name few. In most countries, these schools are considered sites of alternative education and do not receive public funding. In that respect, Windsor House is different from most democratic schools, as it has been a public school for the last 48 years. This is unique worldwide. The only other known instance of this occurring is in Israel, where, after years of negotiations between the Israeli Ministry of Education and representatives of democratic schools, an agreement was reached for some democratic schools (many, but not all) to become public schools (Scope, 2017). This recent agreement may create a new wave within the democratic school community in Israel as these schools become available to all, not only for parents who could pay high monthly tuition fees. Over the last few years, the international democratic education community has begun to collaborate and become a network of schools that are learning and sharing their practices and understandings of democratic education beyond their schools, that is, with the public at large. Different organizations are coming together at local conferences as 29 result of a need expressed on the ground. For instance, in Europe in 2006, members of the democratic education community put forward the idea of having a European democratic education conference. By 2008, the first European Democratic Education Conference was hosted in Germany, and it continues to run once a year (European Democratic Education Conference, n.d.). Another institute started in the United States of America called the Institute for Democratic Education in America. In 2003, the founders of this institute started a “national organization that could catalyze meaningful educational change based on democratic values and human rights” (Institute for Democratic Education in America, n.d., para. 1). They wished to galvanize meaningful educational change. [They conceived of] an organization that would redefine democratic education and direct its message outward, to the general public. A core belief was that the best way to effect widespread change was to collaborate with students, educators, and policymakers in a variety of settings. They also believed in the need to bridge conversations around social justice, student voice, and sustainability. (Institute for Democratic Education in America, n.d., para. 3) On the other side of the globe, Australia, there is another growing community of democratic education. In 2001, the first Australasian Democratic Education Community conference was hosted in Currambena, Sydney, Australia, and it continues to run annually (Australasian Democratic Education Community, n.d.). The Australasian Democratic Education Community state on their 2018 conference website: We are committed to providing a caring, harmonious environment where the academic, physical, social, emotional and creative development of each individual student is attained to their maximum potential. This is achieved through small, multi-age settings, with a high teacher to student ratio, where teachers, parents and the community work together to nurture positive self-esteem and encourage all students to become responsible and motivated. (Pine Community School, n.d., para. 4) 30 Another growing democratic education community that was less known and in the last few years reached out actively to the IDEC community is located in South Korea. As Jerry Mintz (n.d.) wrote following his attendance in IDEC 22nd in Korea: There are an estimated 200–300 democratic schools in Korea, but most of them are considered illegal and are not registered. The minority of schools that are registered and approved have run into problems with the education bureaucracy trying to control and change them. Now the government wants them all to register, but with no assurance that they will be able to continue being freedom-based democratic schools. (para. 3) On a different scale, another innovative organization emerged from the democratic education movement called Education Cities. This organization was founded in 2010 in Israel and is currently spreading across different locations in the world (hundrEd, n.d.). As stated on the hundrED (n.d.) website, the Education Cities mission is to “develop the art of collaboration” (para. 1), that is, turning the city into one big school by fostering collaboration between children, adults, schools, and city institutions. In relation to democratic education, Education Cities (n.d.) has set the following mission: Each and every one of us, children and adults alike, is special and brings to this world a unique talent. With that in mind, Education Cities defines three essential components for a healthy and prosperous society: 1. Me – Finding the individual’s uniqueness and ways to express it. 2. You – Acknowledging the other’s uniqueness and the importance of expressing it. 3. Us – The art of collaboration. A network of individuals who find their uniqueness and express it, concurrently with a shared creative work. (Our Worldview section, para. 1–2) Being a member of this global democratic education community for many years has allowed me to observe an interesting shift in which schools become open to other communities of democratic schools and at times collaborate with mainstream schools. One of the reasons for this shift may be the fact that, for a long time, democratic education was under attack by public forces and functioned from a defensive disposition. This shift can be seen in Windsor House’s philosophy, which is not based on the beliefs or practices of one 31 person or a group, but rather draws on a number of educational philosophies from all around the world, as well as community members and current educational research in the alternative education global community. As the Windsor House School (n.d.) website notes, “The following guiding principles have emerged as critical to the success of our young people: profound respect, self-determination, democratic governance, multi-age grouping, parent participation, freedom with responsibility, and accountability” (Core Principles section, para. 1–2). These guiding core principles had already been brought to my attention in various conversations with Yaacov Hecht (The founder of Hadera Democratic School, Israel), Helen Hughes (the founder of Windsor House), and Meghan Carrico (The current Principal of Windsor House and daughter of Helen Hughes). Hecht (2010) discusses profound respect towards self-determination and education as a basic right, which allows people to follow and explore their own strengths. This, Hecht argues, enables individuals to feel and be a valuable part of the community. Hughes (as cited in Claxton, 2011) connects self-determined education to personal happiness and fulfillment in the world. Similarly, Carrico (as cited in Claxton, 2011) emphasizes the multi-age groupings in the school, which enable natural mentorship and modelling within the community instead of age segregation. In this way, school is part of life and is not separated in artificial ways. Taking all those elements into consideration, in this study, the participants and I explored meaning of democratic education together and apart. Democratic education holds many premises within democratic and non-democratic societies. One premise that is explored in depth in this study is dialogue that can be found in different forms in all democratic educational settings. It is important to be reminded that the notion of dialogue has been studied for many decades and authorizes students’ perspectives about the meaning of education (Cook-Sather, 2002). However, questions of where, with whom, what, and how this dialogue can exist remain revolutionary for many. On the contrary, in democratic education, these questions form pupils’ lived experiences. Within the democratic education community’s I have encountered around the world, dialogue is perceived as hospitality even though it is not named as such. The notion of hospitality will be discussed in depth throughout this thesis in its praxis within democratic education. However, it is important to mention here that the use of this term in this context 32 refers to Derrida’s (2000) view of hospitality, which means being and remaining open to all by inviting the self into a mutual dialogue with others. Cook-Sather’s (2002) questions are crucial for raising awareness and in creating bridges between and among teachers, administrators, policymakers, and community members as they engage in dialogue within public education. As Cook-Sather (2002) adds: Where in the classroom? Where in the school day? Where in the administrative structure? Where at the school board meetings? Where in district, state, and national forums? … with whom do I speak about how education is working and how it might need to change? Where does the impetus for changing a curriculum or a form of interaction in school come from, and how can students be more central to that process? What are some important barriers to pursuing this change in attitude and practice and how can we address them? How might our school’s or system’s review and reward structures be revised so that students perspectives are not only an integral part of the feedback elicited but also a legitimate source upon which to draw in conceptualizing revisions of policy and practice? (p. 23) Keeping those questions actively part of the education conversation may plant seeds for raising a new educational consciousness. A proponent of holistic, democratic, and alternative education, R. Miller (2007), suggests the following: We often believe that cultural change is brought about by leaders or prophets who somehow inspire large numbers of people. But I tend to think that culture has a life of its own, in our collective unconscious, and that it follows the promptings of whatever zeitgeist (metaphorical or perhaps literal "spirit of the times") is active within that mysterious realm. Leaders give voice to that spirit but don't personally initiate it. Educational critics over the past two centuries have so far failed to transform the system in meaningful ways, because the prevailing spirit of modern culture has not yet been receptive to their alternative views. I have some hope that this is beginning to change now, as our civilization shows signs of decline and eventual collapse. (R. Miller, personal communication, November 27, 2017) 33 Chapter 3: Assembling Dialogue and Artistic Socially Engaged Collaboration Figure 3. Tabbouleh being. Photo by Ofira Roll. “The struggles to establish more democratic education pedagogies have a long history in the politics of mainstream education, in parallel with the struggle to establish democracy itself in the greater polity.” (Adams & Owens, 2016, p. 2) 34 The garden waits for the artistic, socially engaged fairy to return. The fairy of goodness, hope, and openness. The one who fertilizes Mother Earth with collaboration. The one who perceives seeds as a joyful abundances and celebrates differences. The one who listens through words with curiosity. The one who understands the importance of the unfinishedness. The one who is not afraid to experience difficulty by staying in the messy middle ground. The one who lives the carnival spirit because it is possible. The one who offers a hand for those lost in the maze of dialogue. The one who keeps asking, “What does it mean to collaborate artistically and dialogically?” The one who knows how to hold space for resistance and desires. The one who relates to the world with open wings as I–Thou. The one who exists in peace with temporality. The one who the garden waits for every spring. The fairy of goodness, hope, and openness. In this chapter, I provide a purposefully selected review of the notion of dialogue through five different thinkers. With that said, one supports and inspires this study more than others—Gert Biesta (2006, 2009a, 2015b, 2018). Biesta’s (2006, 2012a, 2015b) understanding of dialogue as overcoming resistance and frustrations, while existing in the world and meeting reality, frames much of this study. This involves remaining in the middle ground and feeling that we are not alone in the world, allowing and engaging with reality’s interruptions of the self and its desires. I close this chapter by offering a perspective on artistic collaboration as a dialogical process. Understanding Dialogue The notion of dialogue is broad, with many scholars studying and writing on the subject. Therefore, I made a conscious decision to examine the work of five different thinkers: Martin Buber (1965, 1996), Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin (1965, 1982, 1984, 35 1986), Hannah Arendt (1954, 1958), David Bohm (2004), and Gert J. J. Biesta (2001, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012a, 2012b, 2012c, 2013a, 2013b, 2014, 2015a, 2015b, 2015c, 2018, 2009a, 2010). Before elaborating on those thinkers’ understandings of dialogue, it is important to mention the other common use of the term dialogue in education. Although most theories about dialogue tend to concentrate on intersubjective processes, the term has been developed in relation to a more ‘practical’ school of thought in education that views dialogue as an effective teaching technique/method educators can apply for better outcomes (Burbules, 1993). The centre of attention in such studies is towards setting criteria for “how to” dialogue and what benefits teachers and students could gain from such interactions. Scholars such as Stern and Madison (2007) and Palmer (2007) represent this viewpoint. These scholars, among others, write extensively about dialogue as a list of actions, thoughts, and even feelings one should go through while engaging in dialogue. In this current moment in history, in which the “banking concept of education” (Freire, 1970, p. 243) is still in use, there is a reasonable temptation to look for this type of approach in order to stay on track with the knowledge transmission model and its standards test results. However, I chose to study the notion of dialogue from an existential lived experience, as it appears in democratic education around the world. In the context of democratic education, dialogue carries philosophical as well as pragmatic meanings; the same is true in other alternative educational settings. Buber. Coming to understand the notion of dialogue took me back to the notion of I and Thou, which Buber (1996) coined. Among his numerous publications, his book I and Thou (Buber, 1996) is considered one of the foundations of dialogue discourse and has become well known worldwide. I and Thou was originally published in 1923, when Buber was 45 years old. In this piece, Buber (1996) articulated thoughts from two decades of studying, teaching, writing, and living as a Jew in different historical and geographical locations (see also Zank, 2007). In his book I and Thou, Buber (1996) expands this understanding by dividing the human condition into two main ways of engaging in the world: mode of experience (I–It) and mode of encounter (I–Thou). Before going into the details of this work, it is important to understand Buber’s genealogy of ideas as they relate 36 to the contexts and meaning of his writings. For instance, Buber’s beginnings in the Zionist movement, his withdrawal from the movement, and his later interest in a bi-national country for Palestinians and Jews influenced his move from a mode of being for that is, taking the representative role of his Zionist community, to a mode of being with that allows the I to be free from the representative role and experience of the world as Thou. I explore both of Buber’s (1996) ways of engaging in the world later in this dissertation. It should be noted that his early years were critical to his scholarship. Buber was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1878 and sent, at age 3, to live with his paternal grandparents, Adele and Solomon Buber, in Lvov situated in the then Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, Austria—known today as Lviv in Ukraine (Zank, 2007). Buber’s grandfather, Solomon Buber, was known for his connection to the mystical Jewish movement of Hasidic and to the Jewish enlightenment, Haskalah (Zank, 2007). Growing up in this household, Buber’s early years were informed by the tension between the Haskalah movement, which was based on rationality, the study of secular subjects, and diverse occupations in the society, as well as by the mystical and religious-based Hasidic movement (Zank, 2007). Growing up in this diverse intellectual environment and being engaged in the mystical and scholarly meaning making of life most likely left its mark on Buber’s understanding of the world. Early in life, Buber was an active member in the Zionist movement known as Cultural Zionism and a part of the renewal of Judaism movement as well (Zank, 2007). Buber was 25 years old when he withdrew from the Zionist party work and later stood for a bi-national country for Palestinians and Jews (Zank, 2007). A few years later, in 1916, due to the impact and influence of World War I, Buber began publishing the journal Der Jew (as cited in Zank, 2007), which was an open forum of exchange on any issue relating to cultural and political Zionism. In this journal publication, Buber expressed an interest in dialogue for the sake of thinking, engaging, and understanding together. After his move to Palestine, in 1938, he became a leader of the United Movement, which aimed to form a bridge between Arabs and Jews and bring about a bi-national state. Interestingly, Buber’s stance was not popular then, nor is it today. Buber published his book I and Thou in 1923 after two decades of work, during which time he broke away from Zionism, rediscovered the Hasidic stream, and studied the dialogic relationship between man and God (Zank, 2007). In 1924, following the publication of his book, he widened his studies to include the Hebrew bible, through which 37 he claimed to find his ideal dialogical community. Although Buber worked with the Western philosophical canon, he retained a unique understanding of the role of community in religious life, deriving primarily from the Hasidic stream (Zank, 2007). For Buber, the Hasidic community’s tendency to bring mundane acts into realms of the sacred is the embodiment of the relationship one has with God (Zank, 2007). Buber’s thoughts were in reaction to two attitudes towards religious meaning: enlightenment theology and atheistic philosophy (Zank, 2007). Therefore, Buber’s thoughts locate in between these two streams, where there is space for different meaning of God, as he writes about in I and Thou: Whoever goes forth in truth to the world, goes forth to God. Concentration and going forth, both in truth, the one-and-the-other which is the One, are what is needful. God embraces but is not the universe; just so, God embraces but is not my self. On account of this which cannot be spoken about, I can say in my language, as all can say in theirs: You. For the sake of this there are I and You, there is dialogue, there is language, and spirit whose primal deed language is, and there is, in eternity, the world. (Buber, 1996, p. 143) It could be argued that by creating a third path, in between these two streams, Buber (1996) attempts to counter the views of Marx and Nietzsche (Zank, 2007), for whom religion was a mask, drug, or obsession, rather than a communal experience with a higher power. 38 Figure 4. The human condition. By Ofira Roll. In Figure 4, I strive to illustrate core ideas from Buber’s (1996) idea of I and Thou. Buber (1996) divided the human condition into two ways of engaging in the world: The I-Thou mode and the I–It mode. The I–Thou mode of encounter is a form of dialogue in which I and thou (another being) are in relation. This mode is not an internal process, but rather a means for one I and another I to converse in a reciprocal way, creating relational moments of dialogue. According to Buber (1996), in this mode, humans feel fulfilled by living a meaningful life. Experiencing the mode of encounter leads to the ability to converse with the entire world as thou. In I and Thou Buber (1996) clarifies: When I confront a human being as my You and speak the basic word I-You to him, then he is no thing among things nor does he consist of things. He is no longer He or She, limited by other Hes and Shes, a dot in the world grid of space and time, nor a condition that can be experienced and described, a loose bundle of named qualities. 39 Neighborless and seamless, he is You and fills the firmament. Not as if there were nothing but he; but everything else lives in his light. (p. 59) The mode becomes I–thou when people enter into relationship with the object encountered, when both I and Thou are transformed by the relationship between them. The Thou is in its entirety, not merely a sum of its qualities. The Thou is encountered as the entire universe, or as if the entire universe existed within the Thou. The Thou can be inanimate objects, animals, and humans. With humans it can best be described as love. The I relates to another I, not as an object to be used but as one who must relate. However, people can also enter into encounters with beings that cannot be the object, such as God. Buber (1996) makes a connection between the mode of encounter to one’s relation with the world in the world, that is, with God. As Buber (1996) states in the ‘Third Part” of I and Thou: As long as one attains redemption only in his self, he cannot do any good or harm to the world; he does not concern it. Only he that believes in the world achieves contact with it; and if he commits himself he also cannot remain godless. Let us love the actual world that never wishes to be annulled, but love it in all its terror, but dare to embrace it with our spirit’s arms—and our hands encounter the hands that hold it. I know nothing of a “world” and of “worldly life” that separate us from God. What is designated that way is life with an alienated It-world, the life of experience and use. (p. 143) Second is the mode of experience, I–It, which is a monologue. The I-It mode could also be understood as a manner of existence. In this mode the I is surrounded by a multiple It. This mode is internal as well as external and includes feelings, senses, experiences, and imagination. In this mode of experience, the I gathers data, analyzes, classifies, and theorizes, one as subject and the other as object (Buber, 1996). Therefore, the I in this mode is not an active participant and is not relational, as in the mode of encounter. Buber (1996) clarifies the transition from the mode of encounter, I-Thou, to the mode of experience, I-It: Even as a melody is not composed of tones, nor a verse of words, nor a statue of lines—one must pull and tear to turn a unity a multiplicity—so it is with the human being to 40 whom I say You. I can abstract from him the color of his hair or the color of his speech or the color of his graciousness; I have to do this again and again; but immediately he is no longer You. (p. 59) The I experiences the world by gathering fragmented information that can not be experienced as the whole as it appears in the mode of encounter. Thus, Buber (1996) claims that entire modern society is built on this mode of I–It. Public institutions, politics, economics, and personal lives are all grounded in the fact that people view and encounter another being as It and not as You (Thou). To live more in the encounter mode, Buber (1996) argues that people must open up to the possibility of relation to You, rather than the experience of It. As Buber (1996) states in his book I and Thou: The basic word I–You can be spoken only with one’s whole being. The concentration and fusion into a whole being can never be accomplished by me, can never be accomplished without me. I require a You to become; All actual life is encounter. (p. 62) But whoever merely has a living “experience” of his attitude and retains it in his soul may be as thoughtful as can be, he is worldless—and all the games, arts, intoxications, enthusiasms, and mysteries that happen within him do not touch the world’s skin. (p. 142) As Buber (1996) claims in the last two quotes, the attitude of people is twofold: I-Thou and I–It, with the I-Thou being more desirable. In the last chapter of I and Thou, Buber (1996) emphasizes the connection between a fulfilling and meaningful society and the mode of encounter (i.e., I-Thou) by engaging in the world in relation to God. Buber (1996) perceives this relation as a true love relation in which one could be fully encountered by Thou or God: God and man, being consubstantial, are actually and forever Two, the two partners of the primal relationship that, from God to man, is called mission and commandment; from man to God, seeing and hearing; between both, knowledge and love. And in this relationship the son, although the father dwells and works in him, bows before him that is “greater” and prays to him. All modern attempts to reinterpret this primal 41 actuality of dialogue and to make of it a relationship of the I to the self or something of that sort, as if it were a process confined to man’s self sufficient inwardness, are vain and belong to the abysmal history of decasualization. (p. 133) Love does not fulfill our yearning for relation (Buber, 1996). Buber (1996) continues on to explain that in every encounter with others, people feel it could be more lasting and fulfilling—that ‘more’ is the encounter with God, in which people experience absolute relation. This encounter with God cannot happen by seeking but only by being in the world in both modes of ‘I of experience’ and ‘I of encounter.’ After experiencing the absolute encounter, Buber (1996) continues, people come to see all other beings (i.e., animals, human, nature) as You (Thou): “You do not know how to point to or define the meaning, you lack any formula or image for it, and yet it is more certain for you than the sensations of your senses” (p. 159). Through experiencing this, the I is no longer alienated, life is not meaningless, and the I experiences the world with a sense of loving responsibility towards the entire world and is, therefore, willing to build society and community by the ability to say ‘You’ to the entire world. The specific dimensions this study connect Buber’s (1996) mode of experience (I–It) and mode of encounter (I–Thou), as both are needed to encompass dialogue as people yearn for relations. Bakhtin. Moving from Buber (1996) to the work of Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin keeps the line of thought regarding dialogue. While Buber (1996) is more concerned with people yearning for relation, Bakhtin (1982) adds the language component and its relational aspects. Buber (1996) and Bakhtin (1982) wrote about and explored the notion of dialogue in the same period of time and in different locations, yet relatively close geographically. Bakhtin’s (1965, 1982, 1984, 1986) work spans literary theory, critique, philosophy, and ethics. In his book The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, Bakhtin (1982) describes language as an inherently unfinalizable dialogic process, always incomplete and in the stage of becoming. Utterances and words, in Bakhtin’s (1982) writings, represent multivocality and difference, in which dialogue develops into fundamental ways of being in the world. His understanding of language links directly to a notion of dialogue on which he elaborates in the following four books: Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics (Bakhtin, 1984), Rabelais and His World (Bakhtin, 1965), The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays (Bakhtin, 42 1982), and Speech Genres and Other Late Essays (Bakhtin, 1986). Before examining these concepts further, it is first necessary to place them in their historical context through an exploration of Bakhtin’s life experiences. Bakhtin was born at the beginning of the 20th century and lived as a Russian in a time of major political and cultural upheaval within the Communist Party, following the death of Lenin and the uprising of Stalin and Marxism in Russia (Zappen, 2004). Over the span of his life he lived in at least 10 different locations in Russia, and on a number of occasions he was forcibly moved by the government on account of inappropriate writings and unconventional religious preferences and activities (Zappen, 2004). In the Soviet Era of that time, holding faith was against the law. Bakhtin lived his early years in two border cosmopolitan cities where languages and cultures mixed (Zappen, 2004). These experiences of living in multicultural cities likely influenced his concept of “heteroglossia” (Bakhtin, 1982, pp. 271–272). Bakhtin (1982) refers to heteroglossia as a mixture of worldviews and languages in which words hold ongoing meaning. Language does not exist in a neutral space, Bakhtin (1982) states, but in the mouths of individuals, as he writes about in his book The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays: The word in language is half someone else’s. It becomes “one’s own” only when the speaker populates it with his own intention, his own accent, when he appropriates the word, adapting it to his own semantic and expressive intention. Prior to this moment of appropriation, the word does not exist in a neutral and impersonal language, but rather it exists in other people’s mouths, in other people’s contexts, serving other people’s intentions: it is from there that one must take the word, and make it one’s own. Language is not a neutral medium that passes freely and easily into the private property of the speaker’s intentions; it is populated—overpopulated with the intentions of others. Expropriating it, forcing it to submit to one’s own intentions and accents, is a difficult and complicated process. (pp. 293–294) Therefore, Bakhtin’s (1982, 1986) concept of dialogue was shaped by his interest in language, communication, and community. In his book, Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, Bakhtin (1986) explains that the words and utterances people use are already embedded in culture and history by others and are part of a living “chain of communication” (p. 68). This chain of communication carries words and meaning from particular political and cultural 43 moments, as well as terms considered alien to these contexts. Bakhtin (1986) emphasizes in his book, Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, the fact that words are “interindividual” (p. 121), that is, occurring between individuals, and cannot be owned by anyone: A word (or in general any sign) is interindividual. Everything that is said, expressed, is located outside the soul of the speaker and does not belong only to him. The word cannot be assigned to a single speaker. The author (speaker) has his own inalienable right to the word, but the listener has his rights, and those whose voices are heard in the word before the author comes upon it also have their rights (after all, there are no words that belong to no one). (pp. 121–122) The concept of interindividual, introduced by Bakhtin (1986), creates a new understanding for the notion of dialogue, in which communication is about the in-between rather than ownership. The concept of interindividual offers an opening to the unknown and uncontrolled space in dialogue. The idea that the whole is different from the sum of its parts is not new. In Metaphysics, Aristotle (as cited in Cohen, 2016) states, “The totality is not, as it were, a mere heap, but the whole is something besides the parts” (Section 13, para. 1). The chain of communication offers a different way to think about Buber’s (1996) concept of the I and Thou or It. Words, according to Bakhtin (1982), keep changing in chains of communication, influenced by cultural, social, and political contexts. As Bakhtin (1982) suggests: All words have the “taste” of a profession, a genre, a tendency, a party, a particular work, a particular person, a particular generation, an age group, the day and hour. Each word tastes of the context and contexts in which it has lived its socially charged life; all words and forms are populated by intentions. (p. 293) Thus, dialogue carries contexts, intentions, and moments in which participants’ lived experiences carry it on. Being in dialogue is not an abstract sphere but contextual and relational. While thinking about Bakhtin’s (1982) understanding of communication in relation to Buber (1996), the meaning of dialogue become less controlled by one and are instead free to be in the mix of populated intentions. In his book, Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, Bakhtin (1984) declines to draw on other theories in ethics by claiming there is no 44 abstract meaning and thinking in communication. Rather, all thinking is contextual and relational: The very being of man (internal and external) is a profound communication. To be means to communicate. To be means to be for the other, and through him, for oneself. A person has no internal sovereign territory: he is wholly and always on the boundary; looking within himself, he looks in the eyes of the other or through the eyes of the other … I cannot do without the other; I cannot become myself without the other; I must find myself in the other. (Bakhtin, 1984, p. 287) Bakhtin’s (1984) understanding of relational seems to be rooted in Albert Einstein’s (born in 1879 and passed away in 1955) understanding that any move happens in relation to something else, otherwise it would not be considered moving (Zappen, 2004). Bakhtin consociates this with dialogue and communication, as it is necessary to have a relational connection in order to experience the I. In other words, meaning is relational, and, in order to experience dialogism and make meaning from it, one must have a relational connection with the other I—physical, political, and conceptual relational connections for understanding and meaning to emerge (Bakhtin, 1982). This relational understanding that Bakhtin developed relative to Einstein’s work (as cited in Zappen, 2004, p. 39) connects directly to his concept of communication chain, in which dialogue emerges. Bakhtin’s (1986) notion of dialogue emerges in communication in which utterances and words hold different meaning when speakers and listeners bring their context into the communication chain. In his broad concept of dialogue, all individuals communicate in a complex web in which individuals shape each other’s utterances and words. Bringing words and utterances to live speech and understanding, Bakhtin (1986) argues, is an inherently responsive and active process: And the listener adopts this responsive attitude for the entire duration of the process of listening and understanding, from the very beginning—sometimes literally from the speaker’s first word. Any understanding of live speech, a live utterance, is inherently responsive, although the degree of this activity varies extremely. Any understanding is 45 imbued with response and necessarily elicits it in one form or another: the listener becomes the speaker. (p. 68) Thus, vital understanding holds a constant expectation of response, objection, sympathy, agreement, execution, and so forth (Bakhtin, 1986, p. 69). Words and utterances exist in between speakers and listeners, receiving and changing meaning in a dialogical manner. In Bakhtin’s (1984) discussion of dialogue in his book Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, he distinguishes between dialogue (Socratic) and monologue (Platonic). Bakhtin (1984) did so by arguing that a Platonic perspective derives more from the rhetorical tradition, which is single-voiced and ruled by a pre-set hierarchical relationship. This is in contrary to a Socratic perspective, which according to Bakhtin (1984), is a double-voiced dialogic that encourages the deliberation of someone else’s utterances and words. In this case, the dialogue is a relational act, evolving through all participants in the dialogue, whereas, in the Platonic rhetorical tradition, the relationship between speaker and listener is hierarchical and predefined (Bakhtin, 1984). Therefore, Bakhtin (1984) suggests that, instead of following the rhetorical tradition of an ongoing exchange of words and utterances, it would be necessary to move towards restructuring the traditional relationship between speaker and listener/writer and reader, toward the creation of ideas in cooperation. Putting Bakhtin’s (1984) suggestion into democratic education means living the restructuring of the traditional relationship between student teacher. Moving to a more complex and challenging relationship within the school community, in which even roles in school should not be set by default. A study session could run without a teacher, with several teachers, with other adults, or be led by younger students, thus shifting away from traditional forms of argument in which words are just replicated without evolving. By offering this path of dialogue, Bakhtin (1984) critiques the rhetorical tradition for underlining past voices and predicting future voices. His critique may relate to his early years in Vilnius and Odessa, where he was exposed to complex and rich mixes of cultures, languages, and classes, which he later called heteroglossia. Bakhtin (1984) uses the term to refer to a complex mix of languages and worldviews in constant dialogue in which each language is viewed from the other point of view. The concept of heteroglossia enables one to look for the rich double-voices of multiple languages, different cultures, and perspectives. 46 Such dialogue between individuals, cultures, languages, and utterances is an ongoing process that never ends, allowing language to change as a result of a hybridization of languages and meaning. Bakhtin (1982) recognizes what dialogue offers beyond a simple exchange of words and turn-taking of voices: “For any individual consciousness living in it, language is not an abstract system of normative forms but rather a concrete heteroglot conception of the world” (p. 293). Bakhtin (1965) also offers the concept of “folk culture” (p. 4) and “carnival” (p. 7) to elaborate on his understanding of language. He presents the folk culture and carnival as spaces in which intentions, social structures, power relations, and contexts are questionable (Bakhtin, 1965). In folk culture and carnival, fears are defeated by laughter in which all are equal and there is no power structure among all—people allow themselves to play , celebrate, and release control with language, meaning, and behaviours. As opposed to the official feast, one might say that carnival celebrated temporary liberation from the prevailing truth and from the established order; it marked the suspension of all hierarchical rank, privileges, norms, and prohibitions. Carnival was the true feast of time, the feast of becoming, change, and renewal. It was hostile to all that was immortalized and completed. (Bakhtin, 1965, p. 10) Having said that, Bakhtin (1965) offers society the unmasking and disclosing of the unvarnished truth under the veil of false claims and arbitrary ranks. In this unmasking reality, Bakhtin (1865) claims that people experience a sense of relational togetherness, in which the community offers a way of being I and “symbols of fear [are] defeated by laughter” (p. 394). Bakhtin (1965) asserts that dialogic language, as it appears in carnival and in folk culture, is unstable homogeny of thought. This cultural environment encourages the motion and movement of thinking and rethinking of thoughts (Bakhtin, 1965). According to Bakhtin (1965), the creative atmosphere of folk festivities aside the seriousness of official authority, questions hierarchies, and shakes the ‘known.’ As he writes in Rabelais and His World: 47 In spite of their variety folk festivities of the carnival type, the comic rites and cults, the clowns and fools, giants, dwarfs, and jugglers, the vast and manifold literature of parody – all these forms have one style in common: they belong to one culture of folk carnival humor. (Bakhtin, 1965, p. 4) Considering the notion of carnival, Bakhtin’s (1965) adds that people situate texts “within the context of the other text and within their historical and cultural context enriches … [the] notion of carnival as a process of creative renewal and social transformation” (Zappen, 2004, p. 39). With that, Bakhtin (1965) stresses the significance of the context in the process of creative renewal within the chain of communication. Furthermore, exploring communication from Bakhtin’s (1965) perspective highlights the importance of encountering others in the process of creating meaning and communicating. In this study, I connected with Bakhtin’s (1965) specific dimensions of language can be viewed as a relational act of living chains of communication that are influenced by and evolve through all participants, as they are situated within various cultural, social, and political contexts. Language does not exist in a neutral space and is inherently unfinalizable. As such, a dialogic process is always incomplete because words hold negotiated meanings. Within a chain of communication a folk culture and a carnival offer unmasked spaces in which intentions, social structures, power relations, and contexts are questionable. Arendt. Bakhtin’s (1965) view of encountering others intersects with Arendt’s (1954, 1958) understanding of dialogue. Arendt brings together different aspects of political existence through being a part of and acting for participatory democracy. Arendt (1954, 1958) suggested that human beings can experience freedom and liberation as individuals in relation to others in society. Margaret Canovan (as cited in Arendt, 1958) writes about Arendt’s standpoint in the introduction of The Human Condition: Arendt was certainly drawn to participatory democracy, and was an enthusiastic observer of outbreaks of civic activity … reminding us that the capacity to act is present even in unlikely circumstances was certainly one of her purposes. But she emphatically denied that her role as a political thinker was to propose a blueprint for the future or to tell anyone what to do. (p. viii) 48 On the contrary, Arendt (1958, 1963) writes in The Human Condition and in Eichmann in Jerusalem about the importance of action, such as labour and work, as one of the conditions of being human. In these two books, Arendt (1958, 1963) emphasizes the importance of using and not losing one’s congenital ability to think for oneself. Arendt (1958) stresses the need for people to think and use their “capacity of beginning something anew” (p. 9), since this is what makes us human. Therefore, Arendt (1958, 1963) perceives her role as political thinker as reminding people of their abilities and responsibilities to think and act in the world in which they live without offering answers and a way to do so. Hence, Arendt brings to the forefront the complexity of communication and being in dialogic process. Although Arendt was mostly known for her influential political philosophy with her books The Origins of Totalitarianism (Arendt, 1951), Between Past and Future (Arendt, 1954), The Human Condition (Arendt, 1958), and Eichmann in Jerusalem (Arendt, 1963), her work is not classified within a specific philosophical school of thought. She does, however, keep a relational sense with the present and through writing with several thinkers’ philosophies as such as Martin Heidegger (1927), Aristotle (Cohen, 2016), and Karl Jaspers (1941). The historical and personal context of Arendt’s (1951, 1954, 1958, 1963) work could offer some understanding of her non-linear and unfixed philosophy. She was born in Germany in the early 20th century to a secular Jewish family (d'Entreves, 2006). Arendt’s early years as a young child included her father’s death, battles between Russia and Germany next to her home town during World War I, and her mother’s new marriage (d'Entreves, 2006). By 1925, when she was 19 years old, she studied theology and philosophy at the university level and had an affair with one of her professors, Martin Heidegger, who influenced her thoughts and views (d'Entreves, 2006). Later on, she moved to study with Karl Jaspers who became her mentor for her dissertation on the notion of love in St. Augustine’s philosophy (d'Entreves, 2006). In 1929, she was married for the first time. By early 1933, the national socialists had gained power under Hitler’s leadership and Arendt became a political activist with a Zionist organization (d'Entreves, 2006). Her research of anti-Semitic propaganda led to her imprisonment by the Gestapo and to her escape to Paris (d'Entreves, 2006). It is important to mention that Arendt did not research Judaism or God in her writing but became politically aware of her Jewish roots in relation to anti-Semitic actions during that time. While in Paris, she rescued Jewish children from 49 Germany and helped them to reach Palestine (d'Entreves, 2006). There, in Paris during World War II, she also married for the second time and moved to the United States after being persecuted for her activism and writings as a Jew (d'Entreves, 2006). A decade later, she became a citizen of the United States and published her well-known book, The Origins of Totalitarianism (Arendt, 1951). Arendt’s life experiences through two world wars in Europe, being marked as a Jew, and denied citizenship status for more than two decades, both limited her freedom of expression and movement and influenced her writing (d'Entreves, 2006). Thus, it is not surprising that Arendt chose to question fundamental concepts of freedom, responsibility, liberation, the origin of totalitarianism, political life, modernity, and human conditions including basic human rights. In many ways Arendt’s works seem not to be unified or linear and are difficult to classify and frame. However, a close reading of Arendt’s concepts, such as the nature of freedom, the need of public space, the gift of action, and plurality, uncovers a clear relational connection between them all and how these inform the notion of dialogue between humans in modern democracy. As Arendt (1954) writes in her book, Between Past and Future: Whether we know it or not, the question of politics and the fact that man is a being endowed with the gift of action must always be present to our mind when we speak of the problem of freedom; for action and politics, among all the capabilities and potentialities of human life, are the only things of which we could not ever conceive without at least assuming that freedom exists, and we can hardly touch a single political issue of man’s liberty. (p. 145) Although Arendt (1951) writes about the importance of freedom in democracy, in one of her well-known chapters in the book, The Origins of Totalitarianism (Part 2, Chapter 9), she elaborates on human rights and the role of the nation-state in times of imperialism, when freedom is less centred than citizens’ rights: Something much more fundamental than freedom and justice, which are rights of citizens, is at stake when belonging to the community into which one is born is no longer a matter of course and not belonging no longer a matter of choice, or when one 50 is placed in a situation where, unless he commits a crime, his treatment by others does not depend on what he does or does not do. (p. 296) The question of belonging connects with Arendt’s (1951) understanding of the rights of citizens, which, she argued, are more fundamental for human life than freedom and justice. The rights of citizens originate in a sense of belonging to this earth, to this place, and to humanity as an essential need. Human rights are beyond language, culture, and justice. Human rights, as Arendt (1951) suggests, are more about the sense of belonging from an existential need. Arendt continued by making connections between losing citizens’ rights and organized nationalistic communities, in which ‘lost nationality’ is the last sign of past citizenship. At times, Arendt (1951) adds, these reorganized nationalistic communities become violent and even ‘wild’ in the name of rights protection. She argued that only by following the loss of rights, homes, and lives that occurred within the two world wars has humanity had to face the existence of people’s rights as political (Arendt, 1951). She concludes by saying, “Only with a completely organized humanity could the loss of home and political status become identical with expulsion from humanity altogether” (Arendt, 1951, p. 297). The generic right, Arendt (1951) argues, which is beyond nationality is not based on historical, religious, or social structures and affiliations. The rights of the ‘new world’ became an encouragement for humanity to realize that all humans have the right to be a part of humanity and it is humanity’s responsibility to keep it that way. Arendt links that responsibility to political action. In her book The Human Condition, Arendt (1958) names human conditions as labour, work, and action. As Arendt (1958) states: Labor is the activity which corresponds to the biological process of the human body, whose spontaneous growth, metabolism, and eventual decay are bound to the vital necessities produced and fed into the life process by labor. The human condition of labor is life itself. Work is the activity which corresponds to the unnaturalness of human existence, which is not imbedded in, and whose mortality is not compensated by, the species’ ever-recurring life cycle. Work provides an “artificial” world of things, distinctly different from all natural surroundings. Action, the only activity that goes on 51 directly between men without the intermediary of things or matter, corresponds to the human condition of plurality, to the fact that men … live on the earth and inhabit the world. (p. 7) Taking action in the world, according to Arendt (1954), requires others and an awareness of people’s freedom to communicate with others; it is not to say that freedom is a characteristic of every community—rather that, in order to take an action, one needs others (Arendt, 1954). The need for action, Arendt claims, indirectly encourages dialogue to happen. For this democratic human condition to occur, Arendt (1954) emphasizes the importance of the public space where citizens are able to encounter each other and be engaged politically. The idea of action links to Arendt’s concern of taking responsibility in the public space. Arendt (1954) stresses that people’s actions reveal their distinct uniqueness, which permits responsibility taking by making one heard in the world. Arendt (1954) claims that people’s new beginning, first in birth and then later while taking action and responsibility, can appear thanks to plurality. Being the only condition for action to happen, plurality becomes a basic condition for democracy as a whole (Arendt, 1958). As Arendt (1958) clarifies: Action, the only activity that goes on directly between men without the intermediary of things or matter, corresponds to the human condition of plurality, to the fact that men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world. While all aspects of the human condition are somehow related to politics, this plurality is specifically the condition—not only the conditio sine qua non, but the conditio per quam—of all political life. (p. 7) The new beginning inherent in birth can make itself felt in the world only because the newcomer possesses the capacity of beginning something anew, that is, of acting. In this sense of initiative, an element of action, and therefore of natality, is inherent in all human activities. Moreover, since action is the political activity par excellence, natality, and not mortality, may be the central category of political, as distinguished from metaphysical, thought. (p. 9) 52 Therefore, dialogue serves the human condition. As Arendt (1954, 1958) argues, the experience of dialogue allows people to explore the most existential foundations as experiencing freedom, taking action, and being born. Thus, dialogue offers a complex experience of the human condition. In this study, I connected with specific dimensions of Arendt’s (1954, 1958) ideas, such as the nature of freedom, the need of public space, the gift of action, and plurality, all of which inform the notion of dialogue between humans. Dialogue allows people to explore these existential foundations through taking action in the world through an awareness of people’s freedom to communicate across a spectrum of plurality. Thus, encounters become basic conditions for democracy, in which people realize their capacity of beginning something anew in terms of political existence through being a part of and acting for participatory democracy. Bohm. Considering Arendt’s (1954, 1958) understanding of dialogue, David Bohm (1985, 1986, 2004) adds additional meaning to the role of thought. While Arendt (1954, 1958) elaborates the understanding of the importance of encountering others and how dividing humans into groups based on different reasons harms human rights, Bohm (2004) relates to Arendt’s understanding with his claim that fragmentation breaks things, particularly things created in people’s thoughts, not necessary in life. Bohm’s (1985) philosophical and scientific viewpoints are inseparable. His work integrates his love of physics and his later years of studying dialogue with special attention toward the role of thought. In his books Unfolding Meaning (Bohm, 1985) and On Dialogue (Bohm, 2004), he brings his understandings of the relational and undivided whole from his physics studies into conversation with his exploration of the notion of dialogue. He warns about fragmentation of the parts of the whole since they all belong together to that whole and should not be broken into separate entities. Thus, dialogue is not a sum of interactions between participants, but rather a holistic process conveying relational connections that should stay together and not apart. I’ll try to give some examples of the difficulty in thinking, in thought. One of these difficulties is fragmentation, which originates in thought—it is thought which divides everything up … we set up separate nations … we also divide religions … and in the 53 family, the divisions are in thought.… Fragmentation is one of the difficulties of thought. (Bohm, 2004, p. 10) It is breaking things up which are not really separate … the parts are parts of the whole, but the fragments are just arbitrarily broken off from each other. That’s one of the features of thought that’s going wrong. (Bohm, 2004, p. 56) As Bohm (2004) suggests here, fragmentation is an obstacle for dialogue. The heart of dialogue is the experimental dialectical process beyond fragmented ways of thinking, including value systems, nations, religions, economics, and “selves,” in which people allow the emergent friction between contrasting values to occur. Bohm clarifies that dialogue can overcome fragmentation in society. It is important to know that although he wrote more than a dozen well-known books, including Quantum Theory (Bohm, 1951), Wholeness and the Implicate Order (Bohm, 1980), and Causality and Chance in Modern Physics (Bohm, 1984), I concentrated only on two of his books: Unfolding Meaning (Bohm, 1985) and On Dialogue (Bohm, 2004). Those books are focused on dialogue per se. In coming to understand Bohm’s (1985, 2004) writings, it is important to be aware of his personal context while growing up. Bohm was born in 1917 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in the United States of America. He was raised as a first generation son of Jewish immigrant parents. In a series of dialogues for the Niels Bohr Library and Archives, Bohm (1986) spoke with Maurice Wilkins about his childhood being a challenging time in his life. The difficulties were mainly related to his mother, coping with his father, and with life in general, such as struggling with extreme emotions, seeing the whole picture, and taking responsibilities. Although he had a better relationship with his mother later in life, as a boy his mother could not take care of him, so he lived with his father and brother. Growing up as a Jew in a non-Jewish middle-class neighbourhood caused tension and helped him realize that there is truth in both communities. As Bohm (1986) shared in an interview with Maurice Wilkins: I’m sure I was affected by my father … to question the limited values of the Jewish community. But also the contrast between the Jewish community which was a bit far away and the immediate surroundings of the people I was with all the time … we lived 54 surrounded by Polish and Irish people … I realized that the Jewish community often looked down on the Polish/Irish, and vice versa, and the Polish/Irish had a poor view of the Jews … yes, limited, artificial, middle class. You know, various feelings, narrow and sort of arbitrary and know that their values were somewhat arbitrary, dogmatic … I could see that both communities were criticizing each other so that may have led me to look, to take a stance a bit beyond that … I had some ties to both communities and I could see some truth in both sets of criticisms … I could see that therefore a person depended very much on the community he happened to grow up in. So that idea was somewhat current in the culture. (Session II, para. 2–22) Bohm’s (2004) lack of a sense of belonging to the Jewish community on one hand and to the community he grew up in on the other, in addition to his parents’ complicated relationship, may have influenced his understanding of dialogue, which he described as a “multi-faceted process, looking well beyond typical notions of conversational parlance and exchange” (p. xv). While perceiving dialogue, not as a negotiation but more as collective pool of memories and histories, Bohm (1986) offers to look at dialogue as an open space in which feelings and thoughts are observed. In both books, On Dialogue (Bohm, 2004) and Unfolding Meaning (Bohm, 1985), he speaks about dialogue as an environment of openness in which it is not simply listening or responding but also observing individual’s thoughts and becoming “one mind” (Bohm, 2004, pp. 36–37). He clarifies this by breaking it into “suspension” (Bohm, 2004, p. 87), “social meditation” (Bohm, 1985, p. 111), and “one mind” (Bohm, 1985, pp. 36–37), in which people observe our their habits enfolded with others in dialogue and happen to gain some insight, establishing some sense of “one body” (Bohm, 2004, p. 36). We can first of all try to observe our own habits and programs, and suspend them [then] dialogue would be a kind of social meditation … there is flow back and forth—what I am is enfolded in you, and what you are is enfolded in me … therefore instead of reflecting it within myself, I reflect it in the dialogue; we reflect in dialogue. (Bohm, 1985, p. 111) 55 If we can all listen to each other’s opinions, and suspend them without judging them, and your opinion is on the same basis as anyone else’s, then we all have “one mind” because we have the same content—all the opinions, all the assumptions. At that moment the difference is secondary. Then you have in some sense one body, one mind. It does not overwhelm the individual. There is no conflict in the fact that the individual does not agree … there is no pressure to agree or disagree. (Bohm, 2004, pp. 36–37) Before continuing with unfolding Bohm’s (1985) notion of dialogue, there are several relevant anecdotes from Bohm’s trajectory that I believe would add layers to this exploration. In Bohm’s (1986) dialogues with Maurice Wilkins, for example, he claims that as a child he was curious about atomic power, which led him to study this topic at university. Following graduation from his undergraduate degree, Bohm moved to the United States of America, where he completed his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley (Bohm, 1986). During World War II, he was actively involved in radical political groups, including the Young Communist League and the Committee for Peace Mobilization (Bohm, 1986). This activism prevented him from passing security clearances of the Manhattan Project, which many of his physics friends from Berkeley joined and from where the first atomic bomb that bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki was produced (Bohm, 1986). In response to the attention he received from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bohm moved to Brazil and taught at a university for 4 years, where he wrote his book Causality and Chance in Modern Physics (Bohm, 1984). He subsequently moved to Israel to teach and met his wife (Bohm, 1986). Together they moved to the United Kingdom, where they remained for the rest of their lives (Bohm, 1986). As Lee Nichol (as cited in Bohm, 2004) writes in the forward of Bohm’s book On Dialogue, [Bohm] refused to place or to draw sharp distinctions between the individual, collective, and cosmic dimensions of humanity … dialogue always a testing ground for the limits of assumed knowledge—offers the possibility of an entirely new order of communication and relationship with ourselves, our fellows, and the world we inhabit. (p. xxvii) 56 Therefore, when Bohm (2004) sets components for dialogue, he embraces its inseparable parts such as the nature of the absolute—collective re-presentation, assumptions, the paradox of harmony—problem versus difficulty, consciousness and thought, and fragmentation within the whole. Bohm (2004) suggests that before a group starts a dialogue, it is important to have a conversation about dialogue (p. 6). By doing so, he explained that participants learn where each one comes from and for whom each of the participants re-present. This way of conversing may allow participants to recognize their “absolutely necessary” (Bohm, 2004, p. 26) boundaries. Bohm explains his idea of absolutely necessary boundaries as a departure point in each individual for coming to dialogue, in which each holds ideas, beliefs, opinions, and assumptions that in some point became part of who people are or at least the way they think they are. Bohm (2004) explains that these are going to be questioned later in the dialogue by asking, “Is it absolutely necessary?… Maybe it’s not, … then … it becomes possible to let that conflict go and to explore new notions of what is necessary, creatively … this is crucial” (p. 26). Those absolutely necessary assumptions, opinions, and beliefs that each participant arrives into the dialogue with come to be questioned publicly by each participant. This aspect connects to Arendt’s (1958) understanding of the importance of the public space where citizens are able to encounter each other and be engaged politically. People encounter others in order to experience a new beginning as in birth. Bohm (2004) claims that humans come to dialogue with assumptions based on or related to the group they affiliate with (religion, nation, community, etc.). These assumptions take participants away from dialogue in the present to the stories, opinions, and assumptions they come with to the dialogue. Doing so, people “have the tendency to defend their assumptions and opinions … if we defend opinions … we are not going to be able to have a dialogue. And we are often unconsciously defending our opinions” (Bohm, 2004, p 13). Bohm illustrates his point by paralleling religion and science, which he explains are similar in their view of knowing absolute truth. He explained that there is no way to bridge these divisions between truth except through facing, observing, and questioning them: So it is clear that people who believe that they are arriving at any kind of absolute truth can’t make a dialogue, not even among themselves … so we can see that there is 57 no “road” to truth … in … dialogue we share all the roads … therefore we come to the “no road.” (Bohm, 2004, p. 44) Thus, Bohm (2004) states that society is based on shared meaning, that is, the norms, rules, and institutions that create it. In many ways this view is fragmented so when people enter into dialogue, there is a tendency toward thinking through incoherent aspects in the society (Bohm, 2004, pp. 32–33). This fragmented view, Bohm argues, connects directly to people’s thoughts that contain different presuppositions and block movement in understanding and being together in open spaces of dialogue: What we have to do is to discover these presuppositions and get rid of them—get free of them. I don’t think that we can establish conditions for a dialogue, except to say that we both want to make a dialogue … giving attention also to what is maybe getting in the way, then we should have the dialogue. (Bohm, 1985, p. 37) According to Bohm (1985), fragmentation prevents people from being with each other and seeing beyond their thoughts. In Unfolding Meaning, Bohm (1985) adds the ego to his understanding of dialogue, as he created ties between fragmentation, nature of absolute, and the ego. By doing so, Bohm (1985) claims, all human conflicts arise from the need to protect the ego and to keep its interests. This attempt to protect the ego brings the nature of the absolute to action, whereby individuals stand for and represent a truth that becomes inseparable from their self-image, that is, their ego. Bohm (2004) continues by arguing that fragmented society that is divided into groups such as political, religious, ideological, professional and so on, take it to the extreme by creating a “collective ego” (p. 149). In desiring to protect its interests, the collective ego becomes supreme over others and not open to discussion or criticism, since it becomes the secure basis for the self and society (Bohm, 1985). The security gained from validating the collective ego offers groups of people with similar interests “greater power” (Bohm, 2004, p. 66). Bohm (2004) clarifies, once those representations gain power and become evidence for being right, as if it was a “fact” proven by many, people experience constant pressure to accept particular representations and to experience reality this way (Bohm, 1985). Bohm elaborates that the danger in representation is that once people accept one representation, there is a tendency 58 to not consider its misrepresentation or to be open beyond the stand they represent. So-called facts risk becoming fragmented; when “we give the representation the value of independent fact … we are able to take ‘facts’ which have very little value, and value them very highly” (Bohm, 1985, p. 67). Those “facts” limit people’s thoughts by creating, not passing, borderlines in the name of protecting the collective representation. Once people bring those thoughts to their consciousness, they may experience the possibilities dialogue offers. Bohm (2004) links this understanding of people’s consciousness to thoughts: If we could learn to see thoughts actually producing presentations from representations, we would no longer be fooled by it—it would be like seeing the trick of a magician … many worlds are possible—it all depends on representation, especially the collective representation. To make a “world” takes more than one person, and therefore the collective representation is the key … the real change is the change of collective representations. (p. 69) Bohm (2004) argues that people’s consciousness of their thought is crucial for their ability to be in dialogue. He continues by offering the idea of suspending. To suspend, Bohm explains, does not mean suppressing but observing. In the beginning, individuals observe the thought, which allows them to be at the moment with the need to take action. Bohm (2004) clarifies that there is movement in suspending in the tension with the action. Therefore, Bohm (1985) makes the claim that dialogue would be “a kind of social meditation” (p. 111). Although the term he uses sounds as if he offers a solution towards harmony, he emphasizes that the process of dialogue is ongoing, in which there is no truth to uncover: What I have said about all of this is a proposal also into harmony. But just to say I am not putting it as a final truth, but rather it’s the best thing I can see for the time. And that might well be subject to change. We will never get a final—I can’t see us getting a final solution to this question. The dialectical process will go on. Whatever we say, it will not be complete. And therefore it will go on to its opposite eventually. Any attempt to say something about everything will inevitably produce opposites. (Bohm, 1986, Session 12, para. 290) 59 In this study, I connected with specific dimensions of Bohm’s (1985) ideas, which indicated, when in dialogue, it is important to recognize the absolutely necessity of boundaries of participants in terms of beliefs, opinions, assumptions, and ideas in general. Thus, consciousness of people’s individual and collective thoughts is crucial for their ability to be in dialogue. Dialogue establishes an environment of openness in which one is not simply listening or responding but also observing individuals’ thoughts, gaining insight, and becoming one mind, while simultaneously suspending thoughts, which makes dialogue a social meditation. Biesta. As Biesta (2006) puts it, the commitment to an ongoing process of undoing and building as democratic practice is crucial for the existence of democracy. Biesta’s (2006) building and the undoing are similar to the unfinishedness Freire (1998) offers. This understanding of unfinishedness derives from educational concerns and questions, that is, holding a practical view towards education, teaching, and the philosophy of education, as Biesta (2006, 2012b) offers. Biesta (2006) came to education from a practical perspective, thus he referred to himself as an educationalist. Biesta (2015a) declares that his work “falls within four broad domains: the theory and philosophy of education; research on civic learning in informal settings; critical policy analysis; and the theory and philosophy of educational and social research” (para. 5). Biesta’s (2012b) contribution within those domains brings understanding to educational processes and practices, including the gift of teaching, being taught, coming into the world, experiencing freedom, and becoming fully human. This was followed, by an interest in educational practices, that is, in engaging in the dialogue in teaching, creating spaces of openness for plurality and difference, commitment to an ongoing process of building and undoing as democratic practice, and connecting with the world in the world. To learn about Biesta’s ideas in historical and personal context, I corresponded with him directly on March 22, 2013; he shared the following information in these communications. Biesta was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, as a child of the post-war generation following World War II. Perhaps growing up in an empty city that was completely destroyed in the war, where memories of the war were vividly present, influenced his exploration of coming into and engaging in the world for the sake of freedom 60 and being fully human. Early in his life he was a physics teacher in higher vocational health education. Alongside teaching, he studied two master’s programs: in 1987, he studied theory and history of education from Leiden University and, in 1989, philosophy of the social sciences from Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Biesta, married and with four children, returned in 1992 to Leiden University for his doctoral studies on John Dewey’s work. Throughout his career, Biesta has lived and worked in different locations and universities, mostly within Europe. Currently Biesta is a professor of public education at Maynooth University, Ireland; NIVOZ professor for education at the University of Humanistic Studies, The Netherlands; and a visiting professor at the NLA University College & University of Agder, Norway (Biesta, n.d.). Although Biesta has published extensively, including 34 books authored, co-authored, edited, and co-edited, dozens of chapters, and numerous articles, I chose to focus on a few of his writings in which he crystallizes his unique voice in education, philosophy, and beyond; these include Beyond Learning (Biesta, 2006), Making Sense of Education (Biesta, 2012b), his chapter “‘Mind the Gap!’: Communication and Educational Relation” (Biesta, 2004) in the book No Education Without Relation (Bingham & Sidorkin, 2004), and his articles, “Receiving the Gift of Teaching: From ‘Learning From’ to ‘Being Taught By’” (Biesta, 2013a) as well as “The Educational Significance of the Experience of Resistance: Schooling and the Dialogue between Child and World” (Biesta, 2012a). Also his writings, Good Education in an Age of Measurement: Ethics, Politics, Democracy (Biesta, 2010), and the Beautiful Risk of Education (Biesta, 2014), as well as his talk titled “Being at Home in the World” (Biesta, 2015b) added to my understanding of his understanding and exploration of dialogue. Biesta explores the notion of taking risks in education by asking difficult questions as a fundamental quality of education, in which the process of dialogue takes place. As Biesta (2012a) argues in “The Educational Significance of the Experience of Resistance: Schooling and the Dialogue Between Child and World,” A dialogue is an ongoing process and an ongoing challenge, also because the question whether justice is done to all parties involved poses itself again and again. The challenge for education, therefore, is to stay in [the] dialogue and to acknowledge that 61 the difficulty of staying in this place is an essential dimension of what it means to engage with and exist in the world. (p. 96) There are of course risks involved in such dialogue, for teachers as well as students, by being asked uncomfortable and difficult questions and by experiencing the risk of facing an inconvenient truth (Biesta, 2006), of coming into the world through being in dialogue and experiencing uniqueness and plurality, not sameness and identity, which is crucial for democratic existence (Biesta, 2006). In the following excerpt, he urges people to pay attention to the current trend: We become immunized for the call of the other, where we put up our fences, close our eyes and ears—and eradicate the very risk of being interrupted by the other, the risk of being addressed by the other, of being put into question by the other … That is why the risk of education—what I tend to call the beautiful risk of education—is so very important; but I am aware that it is not fashionable to argue that education ought to be risky. (Biesta, 2012a, p. 112) Biesta (2004) locates this risk of education in the gap between teachers and students, where their relationship takes place. He argues that it is within this gap that interactions and difficult questions can be asked (Biesta, 2004). This gap is necessary for the opportunity of agency in which the agent–subject could be liberated or emancipated by the teacher (Biesta, 2004). Hence, Biesta (2006) claims that education is the space in which students have opportunities to encounter “what is different, strange, and other, and … [where] our students … [can] respond, to find their own voice, their own way of speaking … [where] students begin to find their own, responsive and responsible voice” (p. 69). Biesta (2006) emphasizes the importance of encountering otherness, which reacts to people’s initiatives from where they are able to act and allow the irreplaceable voice within them to be born—“that action is never possible without plurality” (p. 134). Biesta (2006) continues by arguing that not all encounters enable action, that is, situations in which we or others try to control and by doing so prevent others to begin, hence, “we cannot come into the world [and] subjectivity is not a possibility” (p. 135). In that space, dialogue cannot be born into the world. The art of teaching, Biesta (2006) states, is located in the gap and holds the 62 tension between building and its undoing. According to Biesta (2010, 2014), teaching also holds three domains of purpose: (a) socialization—exploring the identity of “who am I,” inviting the student to be engaged with culture; (b) subjectification—delving into the subjectness of “how am I,” being responsible, grownup, and compassionate; and (c) qualification—providing the knowledge, skills, understanding, dispositions, and forms of judgement, which are needed in preparation for modern or Western civilisation, that is, preparing of the workforce in contribution to economic growth. According to Biesta (2009b, 2015b), although qualification seems to be the main function of education, he claims that it is the least important among these three. However, what matters a lot to Biesta (2010, 2014) are the first two purposes and how teaching and education become lost in the transformation of education into administrative qualification system. Teaching is not a task that can be pre-programmed by creating learning environments; rather, it is an ongoing task in which teachers are asked to keep the movement in tension: I want to call a double duty … to be committed to both spaces and events, to both design and the transgression of design, to both building and its undoing … as distinguished from socialization, that is, from the insertion of newcomers into an existing order, entails a responsibility for the coming into the world of unique, singular beings. (Biesta, 2006, p. 115) Thus, the following presents educational questions that arise for Biesta (2012b) by looking at the notion of what teaching is: What does it mean to be taught, and what is it that we give authority to? “To receive the gift of teaching,” Biesta (2012b) argues, we “give a place to inconvenient truths and difficult knowledge … where we give authority to the teaching we receive” (p. 9). According to Biesta (2012b), teaching is an act of gift giving (by the teacher) and actively receiving (by the students), in which teachers are not merely resources of learning but also take the educational responsibility of encountering plurality and difference and in which students are willing to be open to receiving, giving authority, and to interrupting their subjective truth. As Biesta (2012b) elaborates, This is a story where teachers are not disposable and dispensable resources of learning, but where they have something to give, where they do not shy away from 63 difficult questions and inconvenient truths, and where they work actively and consistently on the distinction between desired and what is desirable, so as to explore what it is that should have authority in our lives. (p. 11) According to Biesta (2012a), although both teaching and receiving the gift of teaching are concerned with gaining permission (given by students) for the authority (the teachers) to interact with individuals’ subjective truth, teaching has a greater responsibility to lead students to the world and to make the encounter between them possible. Based on my personal interpretation, Biesta’s (2012a) ideas of education may translate into adult learning as well as education with younger people, since his understanding is existential more than pedagogical or knowledge based. The encounter between students and the world involves frustration and difficulties; Biesta (2012a) warns that a lack of leading might mislead students away from engaging with resistance to responding with withdrawal. Thus, according to Biesta (2009a), dialogue means remaining in the middle ground and continuing to engage with reality’s interruptions of the self and its desires. Therefore, Biesta (2012a) suggests placing the world in the centre, making education world-centred, in which “the dialogue between child and world … [would be] … dialogical encounter with … resistance” (p. 96). The resistance, Biesta (2012a) continues, is where teaching begins: Educational “work” only really begins with the experience of resistance. It is after all only when children or students resist that they appear as subjects in the educational relationship rather than as (willing) objects of educational interventions … without resistance education is nothing more than the monologue of the teacher. (p. 97) The resistance Biesta (2006) refers to could be considered an invitation for being in dialogue. He explained that educational relationship holds much more responsibility than dealing with objects of educational intervention. The dialogue begins when the teacher’s monologue ends. Biesta (2006) promotes the idea that teachers should have greater responsibility for their students’ engagement in the world. At the same time he claims that it is problematic and even unrealistic to assume that teachers or schools could be responsible for students’ preparation for democracy. However, he suggests, “the 64 educational responsibility today has to do with the ‘creation’ of the worldly space, a space of plurality and difference, a space where freedom can appear and where singular, unique individuals can come into the world” (Biesta, 2006, p. 100). Biesta (2006) looks at how openness towards different ways of being human (i.e., otherness) is a democratic act in which teachers take responsibility toward a more democratic society. Therefore, Biesta (2006) asserts, “The most important question today is how we can respond responsibly to, and how we can live peacefully with what and with whom is other” (p. 15). Biesta (2006) further states, “Democracy itself is, after all, a commitment to a world of plurality and difference, a commitment to a world where freedom can appear” (p. 151). This implies that, for Biesta (2006), being democratic means being open to who is different from me, that is, anyone but me. This freedom to be different means that each human has to find his or her own voice, since no one can do this for another. Biesta (2006) argues, “It is this very way of speaking that constitutes me as a unique individual—as me, and no one else” (p. 64). In a way, Biesta claims freedom is a concept that requires everyone to determine what is true for him or herself, that is, the individual’s subjective existential truth. This irreplaceable truth speaks to uniqueness in which one’s voice cannot be replaced by another’s, allowing individual subjectivity to come into the world. In his work, Biesta (2006) invites people to think through the questions of when, how, and where the human subject comes into presence, that is, being in dialogue with the world in the world. Biesta (2006) suggests, It is in and through the ways in which we respond to the other, to the otherness of the other, to what is strange and different to us – and to respond means to be responsive and take responsibility – that we come into the world as unique, singular beings. (p. 69) The learning at stake here is learning from and learning about what it means to act, to come into the world, to confront otherness and difference in relation to one’s own beginning. To understand what it means to be a subject also involves learning from those situations in which one has not been able to come into the world, in which one has experienced for oneself what it means not to be able to act. (p. 142) 65 Biesta (2006) invites the uniqueness of each human in being born and celebrated in the world. This invitation is not simple. Biesta (2006) claims that embracing responsibility in life is not necessarily a pleasant act: It can be difficult and painful to come into the world, to take upon us the responsibility that is waiting for us, to expose ourselves to what is other and different. Yet this is what makes us unique and, in a certain sense, human. (p. 71) In this study, I connected with Biesta’s (2006) dimensions of the importance of encountering otherness and allowing the irreplaceable voice within to be born. This included coming into the world through being in dialogue and experiencing uniqueness, plurality, resistance, desires, and facing the risk of encountering an inconvenient truth. Dialogue is an ongoing process and challenge with the difficulty of staying, engaging, and remaining in the middle ground between the two far ends of self-destruction (withdrawal) or destroying the world (resistance). Being in the middle ground means experiencing grownupness. Dialogue is crucial for democratic existence, while being democratic means being open to who is different from me, that is, anyone but me. To close, I have attempted to discuss encounters with the other through dialogue from the perspectives of these five thinkers. Many concepts have arisen in the process, including fragmentation within the whole, the role of language in communication and dialogue, the importance of encountering others in democracy, and the relation between life experience and the thinker’s work. As Bohm (2004) claims, these fragments belong together to the whole and should not be broken into separate entities (p. 56), so it is important to consider each thinker's writing as separate entities located in relation to each other according to personal, physical, historical, political, and social contexts. Perhaps an interesting intersection in this exploration would be to consider each thinker as a limited but an important representation of her or his time in history. For instance, Biesta’s (2006) concept of coming into the world within the social and economic context in which he writes (p. 115), that is, the age of measurement serving neoliberal agendas (Biesta, 2016). Reading Biesta’s (2006) work in this context, as Arendt (1958) would likely claim, leads to experiences of plurality and difference in which his unique voice does not have any option 66 than to be born, to begin, and to take action in the world, allowing the irreplaceable voice within him, as it does within each piece, to arise in the name of subjectivity. For the use of boundaries, an interesting comparison could be made between Bohm’s (2004) dispositions towards boundaries in dialogue in contrast to Bakhtin’s (1965) stance. While Bohm (2004) perceives the necessity of boundaries as a set up for dialogue, Bakhtin (1965) offers the concept of carnival in order to question boundaries and limitations. Looking at the concept of encountering the other within the works of Buber (1965, 1996), Arendt (1951, 1954, 1958, 1963), Bohm (1951, 1980, 1984, 1985, 1986, 2004), and Biesta (2001, 2004, 2006) also reveals remarkable similarities that leads one to question—whether each thinker was aware of his or her colleagues’ work and worked alongside the previous philosophers. Although each of these thinkers lived in different times, historical eras, and physical locations, in my understanding, the concept of dialogue, which each thinker developed, leads to the notion of unfinishedness of Freire (1998), the ongoing open-ended concept of Bohm (1985), the ongoing process of Biesta (2012a, 2018), and Buber’s (1996) concept of the love of the world and the desire to be born into it. Ferguson (2012) claims the common deposition by all those thinkers is as follows: Democracy involves acting together with people we do not know, to pursue goals we cannot know in advance that we share, in the hope of a future we cannot control. This is sharing democracy in a world inhabited by plural others. (p. 8) That is, living in democracy asks people to stay open to the unknown and invite others into this living. In my understanding, while democracy becomes an integral aspect of education and moves away from being a subject that has been taught, the experience of power and respect take on a different lived flavour. As Jonothan Neelands (2009) wrote in his field notes: The principles of the ensemble, in both the educational and professional spheres require the uncrowning and distribution of the power of the director/teacher, a mutual respect amongst the players, a shared commitment to truth, a sense of the 67 intrinsic value of theatre making, a shared absorption in the artistic process of dialogic and social meaning making. (p. 183) Neelands (2009) expresses that accepting dialogic and democratic principles of giving up the power and control might invite mutual respect and intrinsic meaning making together and apart. That being said, I suggest that dialogue holds the interconnected ideas of a shared commitment of respecting whatever one brings into the process of meaning making and the creation of meaning itself. Thus, it is important to keep this process as unfinished and in the making, since dialogue is less about reaching a conclusion and more about the process of being with and holding space. As Ellsworth (2005) suggests, The experience of knowledge in the making is also the experience of ourselves in the making … we must look for the experiences of the learning self in what comes before the self and what cannot be reduced to the self who learns. (p. 2) With this claim Ellsworth (2005) offers the understanding that knowledge is in the making as opposed to knowledge as an object. As Freire (1998) adds that the notion of process is the unfinishedness: “This unfinishedness is essential to our human condition. Whenever there is life, there is unfinishedness” (p. 52). The unfinishedness is needed, and it is my belief that the artistic process may help to work through and with this unfinishedness. Thus, the nature of an artistic process, in which is an ongoing process that is not product-oriented process, might be a supportive tool in a dialogic process. Neelands discussed this in his lecture titled, Having an Excellent Time, published on March 12, 2008: A process and product famously represent a frontline between those who think that taking part in any kind of artistic is more important than the value of what has produced.… There is no such thing a product actually; there is only an ongoing process. If anything, there is fear that if there is something called a product, the performance that might be nothing that follows that. You know, what would be next? What would come next? …. the play, the performance, the event, the festival, are only staging posts in that excellent time which they want to continue. (2:57) 68 Drawing from Neelands (2008, 2009), the artistic contribution has a unique quality of an unfinishedness process, which is democratic and carries a transformative possibility. I found I needed to unpack the intersection of the following seminal works—Bakhtin’s (1982) notion of language as an inherently unfinalizable dialogic process, which is always incomplete and in the stage of becoming; Biesta’s (2006) notion of the location of teaching, that is, the gap in which the tension between building and undoing exists; Bohm’s (1986) claim that there is a need of open space in which feelings and thoughts are observed for dialogue to happen; Arendt’s (1954) notion of dialogue, which offers a complex experience of the human condition, while the need of public space for human to encounter one another and experience plurality; and Buber’s (1996) concern with people yearning for relation—offers the complexity and richness that dialogue might offer to those who would choose to stay in the tension, which Biesta (2015b) refers to as staying engaged in the world without destroying nor withdrawing from the world. Artistic Socially Engaged Collaboration The attempt to define what artistic collaboration means in the context of this study is far from a simple endeavour. However, the concept of an ongoing process of knowledge making and risk taking appears to be an essential component in artistic collaboration in which community building and art making together invite participants to push their own levels of comfort (Moonney, 2013). The artistic component could also be named social practice, while it offers space for socially engaged participants. The use of the term artistic process in this study is used in semantic, dialogic, and embodied ways. Adams and Owen (2016) elaborate by saying: Critical creativity is in many ways similar to Gielen’s (2013) concept of ‘vertical creation’, in which he articulates the idea of creativity … criticism in the form of artistic and social critique is perhaps the single most important feature of the concept, because it enables creative acts and events to be fully engaged with the society and culture within which they are formed, a dialectic in which new political, social and artistic ideas may emerge. Without this fundamental component creativity can only ever be a pastiche of itself, anodyne and decorative and devoid of political potency. 69 Creativity without its edge is little more than a decorative social activity that can be colonised and utilised for any political or ideological ends. The idea in this study is to invite critical creativity as a platform for the juxtaposition of democracy, dialectic engagement, and collaborative cooking as an artistic social engagement in democratic education. The term critical creativity offers an extra layer, offered beyond the artistic process. This invitation to experience critical creativity in a socially engaged setting made the difference between the regular gatherings among Windsor House staff and those that occurred during this study. The difference was manifested in new metaphors and rethinking familiar understandings regarding dialogue within democratic school and democratic education at large. In this study, I drew inspiration from the work of the artist Rirkrit Tiravanija (as cited in Studio Bandana TV, 2011), who sees artistic processes as an opportunity to interact and collaborate, a chance for other things to happen outside of the self, and a way to deal with differences. In claiming these things, Tiravanija offers a different way of looking at artistic processes, one in which art is viewed not only as a process that holds an aesthetic value in a physical object or event, but also as a way to offer a multisensory experience, that may involve taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. This process may lead to new insights. Connecting Tiravanija’s perspective to what I discussed earlier in this chapter, regarding the five thinkers’ understandings of encountering the other through dialogue, makes it clear that the artistic component in dialogue is not optional but necessary in terms of embodiment. Tiravanija (as cited in QAGOMA, 2010) also brings the communal aspect in art-making in relation to food making and eating together. He cooks food for people who come to the art gallery. By doing so he transforms them from viewers into participants. Tiravanija adds that in order to bring life to the object you need to use it, which is why he uses cooking as a platform to bring people together and find meaning through usage and process. I located this study in his terms, in order to bring life to the theory and philosophy of democratic education; as such, the Windsor House staff and I came together to cook, eat, and converse while finding and creating meaning through process. I found it inspiring to 70 locate more artistic socially engaged collaborations like Tiravanija, such as the semi-improvised comic celebration by New Zealand's Indian Ink Theatre Company called Mrs. Krishna’s Party (The Cultch, n.d.). This theatrical event included a storyline, the audience’s participation, dancing, music, and laughter. For the feast, the main actor cooks daal for everyone with some help from audience, who helped with adding cans of food and stirring the ingredients (Wasserman, 2019). The cooking added a rich sensational feel, spiced up with turmeric, cumin, and garam masala. Although it is common to think of art in terms of the primary forms of fine art, such as poetry, dance, music, prose, painting, architecture, and sculpture, in this study, art is about the articulation of understanding and meaning in a semantic space. The art of creating meaning in collaboration while creating food together includes all senses. As Binkley (1977) elaborates, One does not necessarily have to think of art in terms of aesthetic value –whilst a lot of ‘art has chosen to articulate in the medium of an aesthetic space’, there is ‘no a priori reason why art must confine itself to the creation of aesthetic objects. It might opt for articulation in a semantic space instead of an aesthetic one so that artistic meaning is not embodied in a physical object or event. (p. 273) Binkley’s notion of art and artistic meaning thus presents the complexity of such space and invite creation of new meaning. In seeking to convey artistic collaboration, questions regarding consensus and togetherness arise. Many tend to romanticize collaborative processes in the name of togetherness. Collaboration may create a shared experience in which the process of exchanging ideas informs those involved. However, while coming to explore artistic collaboration, radical and difficult questions come into play. Ethical questions of trust, ego, relationship, language, community, and communication may influence the collaboration process. As Rishma Dunlop (2002) suggests: Our writing together took us to a location where the possibility of the ethical moment was contained in the exchanges and dialogues between us as individuals. This ethical 71 moment then extends its possibility outwards to public and collective realms. It may not have occurred with consensus at all times, however, no community worth building is devoid of struggle or difficult knowing. The challenge of collaboration asked us to acknowledge we were not experts at this. As Nicola Doughty wrote: “There is not an expert among us in this process of collaboration. Just open hands, open hearts … stumbling. Together.” We were laying new ground. Terra nuova. Feeling our way, falteringly, disrupting academic ground. (July 11, 2002 section, para. 6) Dunlop (2002) provides highly insightful accounts of what is important in the context of artistic collaboration. One includes the exchanges and dialogues that carry the ethical moment of moving from the individual to the collective and public. An ethical moment can be defined as encountering otherness while considering possibilities within a trusting relationship in which what is ethical for one comes into question. In this ethical moment, participants allow others to be part of their creation and, even further, allow others to influence it and themselves, knowing that it may be changed. A second idea Dunlop highlighted is the difficult knowing, in which collaborators do not agree and challenge each other towards new beginnings. Dunlop encourages people to invite challenges and let go of a consensus mindset. A third is the notion of experts, in which participants in artistic collaboration are asked to come with open hands and hearts, as no one is an expert. Those three main concepts from Dunlop connect to Biesta’s (2015c) call to treat students as people who deserve to be challenged. Biesta (2015c) suggests schools should stop treating students as consumers who come to the ‘school shop,’ and instead offer them encounters with difficult knowing, as Dunlop suggests, that is beyond their comfort zone (Biesta, 2015c). Biesta (2015) elaborates: Is it indeed a good idea to treat students as customers and give them what they want? Does this give them a much needed ‘voice’ in the educational process and does it therefore enhance the overall quality of the educational endeavour?… We go to school, not to get what we already know that we want, but because we want to receive an education. Here, we would expect teachers not just to give students what they know they want or say they want or are able to identify as what they want, but to move them beyond what they already know that they want. We want teachers to open up new 72 vistas, new opportunities, and help children and young people to interrogate whether what they say they want or desire is actually what they should desire. To turn the student into a customer, and just work on the assumption that education should do what the customer wants is therefore a distortion of what education is about, a distortion that significantly undermines the ability of teachers to be teachers and of schools, colleges and universities to be educational institutions rather than shops. (p. 82) Biesta (2015c) offers a new way to perceive collaboration—as dialogue—with the willingness to begin again. He refers to educators’ desire for satisfaction with students as the cause of avoiding difficult questions as part of life-long challenge of those who are different from us (Biesta, 2015c). Thus, artistic collaboration, in which teachers are willing to interrogate and question their students in the name of exploring new opportunities, may sometimes lead to encountering difficult knowing. In addition, while Biesta (2015c) perceives collaboration as dialogue, he invites teachers to question the notion of experts, in which participants in the dialogue are asked to arrive with open hands and hearts. Artistic collaboration requires understanding, responsibility, and a willingness to be part of a brave process in which ideas get reshaped, changed, and challenged. At the time of the collaboration, it is important to be reminded that the politics that results from so-called collaboration may also push people apart. However, recognizing the courage and the risk of including those in artistic collaboration may provide an authentic relational imagination and collaboration. This radical opportunity to imagine together offers additional aspects to dialogue. Dunlop’s (2002) observation suggests new ways for people to reimagine the courage involved in truly artistic collaborative practice: Our conversations, our collaborations, our writing, and our theorizing together provide us with radical revision of community, academic or otherwise. Our collaborations open us up to a feminist imagination that moves us beyond the “ism.” This is an imagination that explores the nature and value of our relationships to each other, [and] of taking risks. This imagination demands courage. (Invocation section, para. 1) 73 This radical opportunity to imagine together invites coexistences in relationship in which people’s creative collaboration is beyond the tangible and aesthetic creation and dialogue is in its existential form. This desire to imagine together, beyond the individual, brought me to write and imagine the following poem. What can be written when the world is under fire? Anything that can be done should be. What can be done when the world is facing separation? Anything that would keep us, on the ground, united. What can be done when people are categorized differently? Anything that would show us our similarities. What can be done that would change anything? Anything that would show us the beauty in our differences. What can be done to create the switch? The flip? Anything that would encourage us to imagine freely. Although artistic collaboration could be perceived as dialogue, it is important to recognize the additional components artistic collaboration offers to dialogue: embodiment and aesthetics provide a foundation for a creative process that requires mutual respect, yet may create conflicts among individuals during a mutual creation. The notion of artistic collaboration in this study concentrated on cooking together as a/r/tographic moments. As Bickel et al. (2011) states, “A/r/tography is offered as a unique form of radical collaboration applicable to many fields of inquiry in the academy, art world, and community. Theoretically, it requires a relational practice that co-revises itself in/with community experiences” (p. 88). With that being said, artistic collaboration offers a democratic methodology of co-creating, encouraging a space for transformative and creative interaction with the potential to build community (Stewart, 1993). Thus, aesthetics in artistic collaboration is beyond art per se. As Johnson (2008) suggests, art could be a meaning-making experience: Dewey argued that art is an exemplary form of human meaning-making.… We need a Dewey for the twenty-first century. That is, we need a philosophy that sees aesthetics 74 as not just about art, beauty, and taste, but rather as about how human beings experience and make meaning. (p. 212) Thus, meaning making through an artistic socially engaged collaboration may invite democratic process and dialogical space, whereas a product-oriented attitude and conflict that serve the ego would be pushed a side. Artistic socially engaged collaboration adds stimulating aesthetic sense through that which is embodied and felt. This practice encourages relational creativity that is not an aesthetic value driven. As Adams and Owens (2016) claims: One of the characteristics of relational creativity is that it endlessly defers aesthetic value and gives short shift to connoisseurship and the hierarchies of taste.… Aesthetics and formalism continue to play an important role in creative practices but to be relational the practice must provide a vehicle for social encounters, real or imagined. The relational artistic encounter, with a reconceptualization of aesthetic value. (p. 23) These carry relational aspects, in that each creator inquires alongside and with other collaborators and invites the interconnected to life (Bickel et al., 2011). Thus, although an irreplaceable component in artistic collaboration, dialogue is not necessarily present at the beginning of the collaboration; rather, it is part of the process of living inquiry. In other words, artistic collaboration has the potential to be a creative process in which each participant creates her or his own piece within the whole. Collaboration may bring all those involved together to achieve an ultimate collective creation. The dialogical component could grow from the process of creating alongside to each other. As Biesta (2012a) states, “There are no quick fixes in achieving a dialogical relationship between self and world” (p. 100). He continued by arguing for the importance of artistically working with “resistant materials” (Biesta, 2012a, p. 98) such as stone, wood, and metal for the reason of experiencing the process of being with-in dialogue. Biesta (2012a) clarifies, If one manages to work with such materials in a successful way, one will experience what it means to establish a dialogical relationship between oneself and what is other —a process in which one will not only find out many things about the materials one is working with, but also about one's own ability to establish and maintain a dialogue, to 75 work through the frustration, to work with the material rather than against it, and so on. While working with resistant materials is one way in which the education of the will can be given form, much can also be gained from working with the experience of social resistance, that is, from encountering and engaging with the resistance posed by other human beings. (p. 98) In the context of this study, considering Biesta’s (2012a) notion of experiencing resistance while working with materials or experiencing social resistance, the communal cooking experiences challenged each of the participants. As the Conflict Kitchen (n.d.) project states: [We use] the social relations of food and economic exchange to engage the general public in discussions about countries, cultures, and people that they might know little about outside of the polarizing rhetoric of governmental politics and the narrow lens of media headlines. (para. 3) Food carries stories, relations, resistance, and cultures. While working with food and others, participants create meaning together and apart, which allow them to remain within the tension among appreciating, destroying and withdrawing their creations, that is, food, collaboration, and communication (Biesta, 2015b). It is important to be reminded of this tension while cooking and baking because, when working with such resistant materials, there is a feel in cooking for maintaining a dialogue and working with others rather than against others. Furthermore, the human aspects of artistic collaboration through cooking and baking bring the relationship into a dialogic space in which freedom resides. As Swanson (2008) elaborates: It is in the collective—not the self—that the possibility of freedom resides. Likewise, it is in the freedom of the relationship to the other that freedom of the self comes in to being. It is in the freedom of moral choice that defines how we engage with the other that inner freedom becomes possible. (pp. 181–182) The collective allows the inner freedom to become possible. Within this possibility is the collective artistic process, which is concerned with risk-taking and the difficulties inherent 76 in such responsibility (Dunlop, 2002). Thus, the question becomes, what does this relationship between freedom, artistic collaboration, and education offer in the understanding of the importance to invite art back to education? The importance of integrating art into educational practices means adding interruptions into democratic practices of plurality of ideas, beliefs, actions, and so forth. As Adams and Owens (2016) claim: The relationship between art, democracy and education is significant in terms of the way that art enables “political subjectification” … whereby art is able to disrupt normalizing societal roles and practices … democracy as perpetually challenging, critical and disruptive. Therefore, art provides a means to enable this critical social engagement with the distribution of power. (p. 12) Taking many forms, art provides opportunities of engagement that interrupt and invite different senses to the experience of people’s lived experience. Artistic collaboration with food and creating meaning is a rather new yet old phenomenon in education. However, there are several projects worldwide that explore such intentions in the context of critical social engagement, activism, aesthetic, and hospitality. Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art (Smith, 2013), is one example of a project that took place at the University of Chicago during 2012 and later as a travelling exhibition for 3 years: Feast explored the richly varied meaning that can be sparked when artists reinvent the everyday act of sharing food and drink with others. The exhibition and the programming that accompanied it provide rich new insights while engaging audiences in compelling, often opened by it … living the spirit of radical hospitality broke down barriers. (p. 8) In addition to all its aspects of artistic collaboration as dialogue, disruption of power, and democratic ideas, there is another important aspect—the aesthetic. The experience of coming together for a feast, which is set up mindfully and aesthetically, creates a sense of appreciation and togetherness beyond the feast itself. For instance, an art piece of Judy Chicago (2014), The Dinner Party from the late 1970s is an artistic example for how the 77 notion of dinner may be a central theme for examining women’s issues, contributions and aspirations. As Smith (2013) mentions in Feast, sharing meals with others is a basic human inclination and continuing source of aesthetic inspiration. The aesthetic inspiration in Feast included different artistic collaborations that were artful democratic projects run by artists, dismissing the conventional view that the arts are individual and singular (Smith, 2013). As Adams and Owens (2016) add: In this common ground the arts are fundamental to the democratic and educational process, especially given their propensity for disruption and critical questioning. Democratic subjectivity can be constructed through creative practices, especially those in which a context for collective democratic action is created. (p. 12) For instance, one of the initiatives represented in Smith’s (2013) book Feast is the Mildred’s Lane project. This initiative is an ongoing, collaborative research project that focuses on an experimental summer camp where small groups of students, artists, curators, and writers gather. They collectively engage artistically while also sharing in the process of preparing feasts together. The intention of Mildred’s Lane is for: this everyday work of thinking, talking, cleaning, cooking, and eating together should be grounded in an “ethics of comportment” that might allow us to “collectively create new modes of being in the world” if practiced with focus, intention, curiosity, and joy. (Smith, 2013, p. 238) The artistic collaboration with food may interrupt normalizing gathering with a sense of play. As part of the Mildred’s Lane project, a particular dinner was based on a game that was an invention of one of the artists involved (Smith, 2013). The game was Scrabble Scramble, which invited participants to recombine the letters of their names to create a list of ingredients for all the dishes they would prepare together for a meal (Smith, 2013, p. 238). In these dinners, collaborators shared roles of guest and host as well as responsibilities for the sensory, intellectual, aesthetic, and emotional aspects of the meal— 78 “a perfect embodiment of the collectively generated hospitality that underlies all of … activities” (Smith, 2013, p. 238). The invitation to be part of an ongoing process of collaborating with others has to do also with the roles and responsibilities participants were drawn into or asked to fulfill in the artistic collaboration process, especially around food. When the food assists us, it offers invisible personal visceral relationships and stories with food that each participant brings into the creation of the social fabric. The food-making process enables participants to locate themselves as hosts, guests, helpers, and or as outsiders (Verwoert, 2013). Although food-related artistic collaboration has often been theorized for its embodied lived experience contributions (Springgay & Zaliwska, 2017), in this study, food assisted in a more existential form to hold space for being with one another in a nurturing way. While being engaged in conversations at Windsor House during the pre-study period, I recognized that in the community kitchen space, all elements of the community (students, parents, educators, and others) come together and experience explorative art-making. As Tiravanija (as cited in QAGOMA, 2010) explains, while cooking, conversing, eating, and even cleaning the kitchen afterwards, community members have the opportunity to interact and collaborate. Cooking together offers the chance for other things to happen beyond education and outside of the self, enabling participants to experience plurality (i.e., a way to deal with differences). Thus, I realized that the community kitchen is a situated space for Windsor House participants to create meaning as a group through artistic collaboration. Being in the kitchen at Windsor House felt, as Rita Irwin (2004) states in relation to the life of artist/researcher/teacher, like “existence that integrates knowing, doing, and making … flow between intellect, feeling, and practice” (p. 29). In this chapter I have provided a brief context for democratic education, understanding dialogue, and artistic collaboration. The history of democratic education maintains hope for freedom of choice in school activities within a democratic framework. The premise is that individuals in democratic education feel supported and appreciated in the quest for creating their own identities while appreciating their uniqueness. 79 The encountering of experience led to the second section in this chapter focussed on understanding dialogue. I accomplished this through a review of several writers who represent a broad as well as solid understanding of dialogue. Although many often present dialogue as a finished process, one in which people reach an agreement, these five philosophers and thinkers emphasize the importance of the unfinishedness, that is, open-ended, in dialogic process as well as the notion of encountering people other than ourselves (i.e., plurality). These aspects are essential in democratic living and bring us as humans to question our willingness to begin again, to invite openness, and even to consider collaboration. Thus, the key ideas I have taken from these philosophers and thinkers about dialogue are their understandings of encountering the other through dialogue with curious mind and heart; their understandings of the importance in finding or creating common ground, while being aware of differences; and their understandings of the role and power of language in dialogue. These key ideas informed this study and research questions in direct and less direct ways. Lastly, the notion of collaboration within the exploration of artistic socially engaged collaboration brings this chapter to a close. This study offered a space for artistic socially engaged collaboration, while the term artistic is used in a semantic, dialogic, and embodied manner, that is artistic not in terms of aesthetic but in term of existential quality. As Biesta (2018) claims: The quality that matters here is not the aesthetic quality – or at least not the aesthetic quality per se – but what we might term the existential quality of what and who is being expressed, a quality that has to do with how children and young people can exist well, individually and collectively, in the world and with the world. (p. 14) The artistic collaboration includes the ethical moments of encountering the other, confronting difficult knowledge through the doing and unfolding of dialogue. This exploration leads to the next chapter, which discusses the methods used in this community based and a/r/tographic research. 80 Chapter 4: Tabouleh Methodologies Figure 5. Living metaphorically. Photo by Ofira Roll. “Art as an encounter is a relational activity where we can observe our own patterns of behaviour and idea creation through our own and other’s monitoring and enquiry.” (Irwin & O’Donoghue, 2012, p. 231) 81 Allowing explorations of our embodied experiences. Embodied connections from within that create our storied fabric. Stories that create meaning with us by inviting us back into our own bodies. Into our own lived understandings of our stories’ fabric. Understandings that invite us for a feast served on an inspiring tablecloth. Inspiring as our voices and stories holds us together. Holds us together and make us feel welcome. Feel they were there waiting for us to join in… For us to embody hospitality—where hospitality invites our senses to dialogue. Senses that allow our feast to be celebrated—feast of living—carnival of being. Where our fears are defeated by laughter, celebration, and radical hospitality. I open this section with a poem I wrote in the process of sense making during this study. The poem embodies the complexity I experienced in the process of writing about hybrid methodologies. This complexity required me to accept that there was no single way to perceive it all. Although the heart asks us to avoid paradigm thinking and wishes to experience the democratic freedom that a/r/tography offered me and other participants, I was aware that there were existing paradigms in place. Being with A/r/tographic Inquiry A/r/tography offered an invitation to connect meaning and issues in a democratic way. As Biesta (2011) explains: I find complexity a very interesting set of ideas and area of scholarship – I even see it as an important set of ideas and area of scholarship – but I cannot accept it as a new paradigm, as a necessary framework, or as the truth about the universe. This is not a matter of epistemology but a matter of politics – or perhaps I should say that this is an existential matter – in that human dignity for me requires that we can live our lives without having to believe in anything (which does not mean that we should not be allowed to have beliefs). Complexity offers options – and perhaps we could say possibilities – but I am not in search of a new paradigm, because I do not think that just replacing one paradigm with another is what we should aim for. I'd rather see 82 that we give up paradigm-thinking altogether and engage with ideas such as complexity in a much more pragmatic way, connected to concrete problems and issues, rather than as a framework or paradigm. (p. 119) This section begins with the story of methodologies and continues with the methods used in the study. I describe the story through the metaphor of tabouleh making and the roles that food, creating meaning, and complicated conversations play within hospitality and socially engaged, collaborative, artistic processes. In line with Derrida’s (2000) approach to hospitality, I understand hospitality as being open to strangers who arrive at my door without notice. This requires me to be curious without conditions. It is experiencing natural giving, as Marshal Rosenberg (2012) refers to in his song about natural giving. This understanding is enhanced by Claudia Ruitenberg’s (2015) work when she points out that hospitality in education is about unlocking the world for children while being open to their otherness, despite the challenges. The participants and I let a/r/tographic inquiry play its part as a democratic practice and invited conversations to rethink past experiences—rethinking with open questions towards future possibilities for imagining a new present. As Pinar (2003) suggests, “Present are the sounds of complicated conversation in which teachers are bridges between curriculum-as-plan and curriculum-as-lived, between the state and the multitude, between history and culture” (p. 10). In bringing complicated conversation to this study, I encouraged participants to engage with meaning and curriculum on a practical as well as metaphorical level. These conversations created a space to imagine a way beyond without being stopped by the unsolved present. The practice of complicated conversation emerged at Windsor House when it was truly needed. This study took place during the greatest transitional time in Windsor House’s history. Stories from the long-shared past were told by many as part of an attempt to imagine together and apart the unknown impending future of being a school without a building, without knowing how many students would remain at Windsor House after losing the building, and, as a result, not knowing who among the staff would be able to stay. These conversations were built upon long-term friendships, a participatory community-based atmosphere, and qualitative research methods. 83 This study carries aspects of participatory community-based, qualitative, and ethnographic methods and techniques. However, it focuses on a/r/tographic moments and gatherings that are sensorial, aesthetic, and dialogic spaces with the assistance of community conversations and creation feasts with others. In this study, a/r/tography inspired socially engaged practices within a community of practitioners engaged in creative work together. During the study, I invited all participants to co-create the curriculum of the feasts or occasions while we conversed and ate together. The a/r/tographic democratic facilitation and encounters took place in the interviews and the gatherings (created around food preparation and sharing). While engaging in different identities as teachers, researchers, and at times artists, participants created the social fabric through conversing and creating shared food. As I experienced it, this form of collaboration is distinctive from other forms. Feeding ourselves with our collaborative creative expression meets our somatic needs for nutrition, nurturing, and an ancient tribal ritual sense of being, as we take care of each other in existential form. While dialogue, as a philosophical form, offers an ongoing exploration of encounters and plurality, a/r/tography enters the space offering moments of artistic embodied collaboration of being with and encountering resistance. Exploring artistically calls for an ongoing dialogue. As Biesta (2018) clarifies: Encountering the reality of paint, stone, wood, metal, sound, bodies, including one’s own body, encountering resistance, in order to explore possibilities, meet limits and limitations, and out of this create forms, establish forms and find forms that make existing-in-dialogue possible, that is what I see in the “doing” of art. (p. 17) The a/r/tographic facilitation also offers a process of living inquiry (Meyer, 2010), a way to explore dialogue through creating meaning of democratic education in complicated conversations. The process of living inquiry is often understood in communities of practice (Wenger, 1998) among a/r/tographers committed to dynamic and constant motion (Irwin & Springgay, 2008). The process of living inquiry is dynamic as participants engage in reflexive inquiry, creating meaning by doing, and in questioning truths. As La Jevic and Springgay (2008) notes, “A/r/tographers do not do research as a separate activity they are 84 engaged in but a/r/tographers live research” (p. 72). A/r/tography requires a reflexive inquiry that bonds together knowing (theoria), doing (praxis), and making (poesis); each are important in meaning making in a/r/tographic inquiry (Irwin & Springgay, 2008; Leggo, 2001). How does it take place, and what kind of life does a/r/tography offer? Irwin (2004) explains: To live the life of an artist who is also a researcher and teacher is to live a life of awareness, a life that permits openness to the complexity around us, a life that intentionally sets out to perceive things differently. (p. 33) In my personal experience many educators identify themselves simply as practitioners; however, a/r/tography offers practitioners the awareness of living inquiry, which encourages recursive and reflexive inquiries. This form of theorizing for understanding focuses on the processes of constructing new knowledge (Irwin & Springgay, 2008). As Greene (1995) suggests: I think that if I and other teachers truly want to provoke our students to break through the limits of the conventional and the taken for granted, we ourselves have to experience breaks with what has been established in our own lives; we have to keep arousing ourselves to begin again. (p. 109) The point of Greene’s (1995) understanding of teaching is that while educators encourage their students to take action and engage in new beginnings, educators should simultaneously be engaged in the same process. To be engaged in living inquiry requires educators to be in constant motion and experiencing ambiguity—to begin again, which Biesta (2015c) refers to as the new beginning and as Arendt (1954) writes about. Staying open to the experience of ambiguity takes courage and patience. As I reflected in writing in December 2010: I stay open to new discoveries, and let the space of ambiguity lead me to my next stage of my a/r/tography practice. I wonder whether a Sisyphean task, such as sewing, would connect me to my a/r/tographic understanding. What is there when we paint? How is the painting knowledge different? Questions come and visit my mind while 85 sewing; what is the hidden connection between my readings and my personal being? What is there that could not let me move on and encouraged me to start my a/r/tography practice with my classmate? Ten minutes extends into two hours and it is 2 a.m. The sewing making leads us to a dialogue where we both get engaged with the question of why it took me so long; why do I explore tasks like that with more joy than reading or writing? These questions may sound trivial belying how deep they truly are. They actually unfold deeper questions of my being in a reality of thinking, as opposed to my being in a reality of doing. Sewing is truly a meditative task, one which allows rest and awareness of thoughts as they arise without opinion or judgment, simply witnessing rather than engaging with these thoughts, while the mind is occupied with a meditative practice (Puddicombe, 2017). As Lynda Barry (2008) asks: What’s the difference between thought and experience? In terms of that painting it was aliveness. The difference between trying to decide what I thought and having something actually happen to me while I was looking was my first clue. (p. 118) Returning to a/r/tography as a methodology, Greene’s notion of beginning again resonated with me. Green wrote about experiencing breaks with what has been established in our own lives and beginning again, which I found connected to the interwoven relationship of the artist/researcher/teacher as a/r/tography offers, given that none of these identities are more important than the other, and allows each to be challenged. This plurality of a/r/tographic practice offers individuals and the collective a means to create a democratic platform for collaboration. This is explained in a/r/tographic collaboration as radical relatedness: As a practice, a/r/tography incorporates both art making and writing (graphy) as essential components of inquiry. A/r/tography extends the modern and postmodern concept of artist, through acknowledging and drawing forward the interwoven aspects of the artist/researcher/teacher relationship. From this interconnected platform … a/r/tographic collaboration is best understood and practiced with a combination of theoretical guidelines and practices that accrue from relational aesthetics (the artist’s 86 contribution), relational inquiry (the researcher’s contribution) and, relational learning (the teacher’s contribution). The primary principle of a/r/tography is that none of these contributors, aspects, or situations is to be privileged over another, as they co-emerge simultaneously within and through time and space. (Bickel et al., 2011, p. 5) Radical relatedness with its call for intersubjective coexistence with others (Bickel et al., 2011) within a/r/tographic practice supports the notion of hospitality and holds space for it to exist. I suggest that hospitality, as Derrida (2000) and Ruitenberg (2015) refer to, involves embodied experiences, just as collaborative cooking invites the messiness of dialoguing and being in relation through creating food, conversing, being, and feasting together. Food plays an important role within the relational and human act of dialogue. As Basil Alzeri (as cited in CHMA, 2014) shares about his artistic inquiry through food making in front of audiences: Through the work like this … whoever witness the work, participate in eating, see it, taste it, that before you think that Palestinians as these people in conflict, these people as political machine against another machine … these are people before anything else … eat, sleep, go to school … marriage, all those human aspects … cultural apathetic gesture here that talks about humanity before occupation or colonialism … simple message of humanity … through cultural aspect as cuisine … and historical use of food, to confirm a long history and cultural significant within a nation strategically been fought to demolish. (11:31) Thus, the socially engaged artistic collaboration of food creation brings a different feel and experience than other collaborations, which are often less embodied. It includes senses such as “touch, smell, and especially taste – that have been devalued or simply considered irrelevant to high culture” (Korsmeyer, 1999, pp. 1–11). These intuitive visceral understandings invited the personal (i.e., each person) to engage, share, question, and feel a relational experience. For teachers, the process of living inquiry (i.e., being in dialogue), in which discoveries, ambiguities, and open-ended questions take the lead, might be a different way 87 of engaging with others. In this study, they learned through their community of practice. In supporting the process of living inquiry, a/r/tography embraces four commitments in communities of practice: (1) a commitment to a way of being in the world; (2) a commitment to inquiry; (3) a commitment to negotiating personal engagement within a community of belonging and; (4) a commitment to creating practices that trouble and address difference. (Irwin, 2010, p. 42) These commitments have the intention of leaving space for inventions and movement in a/r/tographic inquiry. The complex and demanding work environment of teachers is overwhelming, and at times poses additional obstacles and barriers to permit openness or even willingness to perceive things differently. However, usually when teachers engage in a/r/tography—with its inner dialectic in-between formation, non-binary positions, and non-goal oriented methodology—they are encouraged to raise new questions related to “what is seen and known and what is not seen and not known” (Irwin & Springgay, 2008, p. xxx). A/r/tography in this sense is about sharing the processes in which “meanings are negotiated by, with, and among a/r/tographers as well as with their audiences” (Irwin & Springgay, 2008, p. xxx). The community of practice offers, as Clandinin and Connelly (1995) elaborate, an opportunity for growth: What is missing in the classroom is a place for teachers to tell and retell their stories of teaching. The classroom can become a place of endless, repetitive, living out of stories without the possibility of awakenings and transformations.… Teachers need others in order to engage in conversations where stories can be told, reflected back, heard in different ways, retold, and relived in new ways in the safety and secrecy of the classroom. (p. 13) The process of being heard in different ways invites an experience of hospitality. This study offered an exploration of what democratic education means and how it enabled participants to dialogue with the support of hospitality. In democratic education, hospitality involves acceptance as well as resistance. Biesta (2015b) refers to these opportunities, and I explore this further in later chapters. Doing so with the facilitation of 88 a/r/tographic moments of living inquiry offers open-ended, embodied, and playful engagements, in which ongoing exchanges of identities, understanding, and meaning take place. Creating feasts together offered the participants and me safe spaces in which to begin the dialogic processes. Those ongoing exchanges also opened us to discomfort and ambiguity. This is the messiness of a social fabric ensuring none of the voices in the room are more privileged than others. As part of my a/r/tographic process, I have been sewing a tablecloth from fabric I have been collecting for years. In doing so, I have been sewing hospitality, with memories, in a dialogical space—metaphorically sewing the social fabric of hosting. I sewed x after x after x after x, connecting pieces of stories into a tablecloth, just as participants and I added ingredients into our cooking. At home I sewed the rhizomatic connections beneath the surface into a physical tablecloth, trusting the making process to create meaning while sewing, just as I invited participants at school to play with the written curriculum, that is, the recipes at our gatherings without fear of doing it wrong but following what arises in the moment and experiencing what it holds. The messiness of cultures and interests came together for me while I created meaning through the making of the tablecloth. I wove stories, memories, meaning, and hospitality, inviting instead of forcing. Sewing allowed me to take active pauses in thinking, cooking, and writing, enabling listening to take place. As I sewed x after x, I let intention take the lead by staying open to whatever comes. As if I allowed myself to be a guest while sewing, who could simply be without immersing into the social fabric of hosting. That is, experiencing that sense of freedom for not having any desire to solve or understand or host, but simply be. Thus, the role of the host, when the process is dialogic and collaborative, is to witness the self as well as to remain open to whatever comes, instead of remaining in the deposition of running it all. In many ways while being the host in this study, I had to actively make a choice to not be the host, as Woolf (1981) refers, so I was not absent from the interactions. Woolf (1981) writes about the host as being in touch with everyone besides herself, while creating the social fabric. As Verwoert (2013) writes about Woolf’s writing: While the host is in touch with everyone in the expanded family and touches up every mark of discomfort, she remains emotionally untouchable herself. Close to everyone and 89 always on hand when needed, Mrs. Ramsay is infinitely distant and out of reach, alone in her world of ceaseless care. (p. 362) The host, caring for others, never for herself, hence neither acknowledging nor sharing the knowledge of her decaying health, dies from one day to the next, leaving the world that only she could animate in ruins. (p. 362) The host’s awareness for all relations and her support in their creation create the space for the flow of hospitality to exist. In terms of hosting, the participants and I worked in the kitchen together with the intention of creating meaning together. As in my sewing, being in the flow of making meaning in the kitchen invites the heart—being in the flow of social time, between those who host and the ones who perform in it. Although the role of host was expected to be mine, I did not define it as such. Throughout the study, as the gatherings progressed, the participants and I experienced the flow of social time while being the guests, as well as, hosting simultaneously. Similarly, Verwoert (2013) states: Sense how social time is made to flow, who makes it flow, who goes with that flow, and profits from it-and thereby hopefully enables us to exorcise some of the demons and recognize some of the potentials that linger within the horizon of hosting (and) cultural performance. (p. 361) The potential that lingers within hosting creates the flow of social time. Within this cultural performance, the relational being is asked to join in and let go of the fear of staying emotionally untouchable. In an atmosphere of hospitality, I was asked to speak up for what I truly cared about and acted on. Breathing in while sewing x after x, missing this embodied knowing; I found I was asked to share my own uniqueness in the most radical democratic way. I experienced it, lived it, breathed it, and felt it by joining in. This brought me back into my own personal ecosystem. I found engaging in dialogue to be an invitation to a worldly space, an educational space, where the world desires to teach me something (Biesta, 2015b). Dialogue is more about the process people go through in the search for new understandings. People’s inner ecosystems keep them alive by being in the world, being engaged in the world, and being at home in the world (Biesta, 2015b). 90 Coming to write about the importance of embodied experience in relation to creating meaning showed me how isolated and lonely it could be without an embodied component. Investing in the process of writing removed me from the world. I knew I wanted to embody the experience by creating a tablecloth from stories of hospitality—from being isolated, to bringing the pieces together while creating aesthetic meaning. As Irwin (2006) writes, “Experiences found in the ordinary moments of life provide pathways for pedagogy of self, while artistic activity provides a recursive stance towards continuous inquiry and engagement with ideas” (p. 75). Letting Irwin’s understanding unfold while writing and creating a tablecloth led me to write the following passage: Sewing x after x after x, knowing it takes time from doing other things. It takes time to respect our own selves. It takes time to give some time and attention to our inner ecosystem that asks for more than thinking. It takes time to pause. It takes time to be. It takes time to allow our voice emerge from within our creations. It takes time to be in dialogue with what is. It takes time to host and experience radical hospitality, that is, to be welcomed and welcome others. It takes time and courage to listen carefully to our becoming. It takes time to embody our experience. It takes time to be dialogical. It takes time to… At this time, in many locations worldwide, when teachers are asked to stay on task and run through the curriculum, there is little time for anything that counts as an off task, little time if any to wonder, to linger with and within the curriculum, to explore existential, practical, and philosophical questions of who we are and why we do what we do. Teachers are not given the time to wonder what hospitality has to do with the educational experience or what hospitality could teach us about complicated conversations. These questions of who, why, and what do not need to be answered; however, it is important to understand their offering. They present an offering as an awaking opportunity, to begin again and to emphasize the importance of hospitality as the heart of the curriculum. As mentioned earlier in this section, in the context of this research, hospitality carries at least two meanings. One is the direct meaning of hosting and the other is as a metaphor for dialogue. As Korsmeyer (1999) states: 91 [This work] also takes seriously the preparation, serving, and function of food …. the fact that eating is an activity we freight with significance considerably beyond either the pleasures it affords or the nutritional sustenance it provides. It is an intimate part of hospitality, ceremony, and rituals religious and civic. (p. 3) Those meanings of hospitality invite participants into a personal space while the I is asked to be engaged. Hospitality offers a relational occasion. In this space, we as teachers are not permitted to hide behind tasks such as curriculum, class management, and testing, but instead are asked to share and teach who they are as people. As Pinar (2004, 2009) suggests, teachers should be the authors of their teaching. He emphasized the importance of lived curriculum and experience, exploration, and creation of ourselves in relation to others. The question that emerges is how hosts or teachers ensure they do not become lost in hospitality work while uneventful tasks and duties may take all of their energy. As Verwoert (2013) writes: The irony is: work that must be done to host an event is highly uneventful. The temporal horizon of sustained social communication, preparation, administration, and maintenance is that of long durations. Many small acts (e-mails, phone calls, etc.) eventually add up to something. But in themselves they are too many, too unspectacular, and too extended over time to be convertible into the theatrical logic of instantaneous onstage delivery. The award ceremony organizer is hardly ever the prize winner. (p. 360) As in a/r/tography, in which the artist’s voice, perspectives, experiences, and points of view are explored in the making; in the socially engaged artistic collaboration of cooking, as well as in hospitality, there are gaps in the making and getting prepared to host. The making process may teach people how it feels to get lost in the flow. The making brings taste into the flow, while participants are not controlled but allowed to be fully alive. Korsmeyer (1999) suggests: Taste is associated with appetite, a basic drive that propels us to eat and drink. Its role in sheer animal existence is one of the factors that has contributed to its standard neglected as a subject of philosophical inquiry … too closely identified with the body 92 and our animal nature, it seems not to figure in the exploration of rationality or the development of knowledge … most ethical theories assume that taste presents base temptations that in a moral life must be controlled. (pp. 1–2) Collaborative hospitality and food creation may offer a/r/tographers new ways of adapting to and overcoming a variety of encounters including the collective ego, ideological and political disagreements, to name a few. Swanson (2008) explains that overcoming such encounters requires being in constant processes of living inquiry, searching, and discovering: It is between the horns of dilemma that identities are constantly becoming reinscribed and negotiated in terms of choices, delimited or enabled, within a dialogue between ethics and activism. It is in this space, where practice and theory meet, that I continue this a/r/tographic journey here, living through the text the freedom to search, discover and (re)invent meaning of how we come to understand choice, moral commitment, ethical action, and above all the freedom to come to explore the nature of freedom itself underpinning these concepts. (p. 181) Swanson (2008) claims that a/r/tography is successful because it recognizes that educators need space to (re)invent meaning in order to experience freedom and choice. Thus, she views a/r/tographic inquiries as a way of knowing relationally how to ask questions that convey ethical and natural freedom concerns (Swanson, 2008). Questions such as, what kinds of sacrifices are implied in the intersection of a/r/tographic inquiry? What are the response-abilities of a/r/tographers while agreeing to inquire with the “other” and being the “other”? How might a/r/tographic inquiry offer learning selves with others? This is about examining knowledge that is rarely reached through propositional language. In other words, a/r/tographic inquiry may offer opportunities to experience the in-between, as well as being with spaces, which are limited through propositional language that carries meaning and power struggles. This relates to Ellsworth’s (2005) explanation regarding art as a way of knowing: Art bends under its chosen burden of trying to make shareable a knowledge that cannot be explained. Art assumes the burden of a knowing that is anything but literal 93 and will not be reduced to the explainable through socially encoded grids of categories, names, and numbers.… Although it lies beyond language, what the aesthetic knows can be painted, sculpted, danced, or sensed in and through music, moving images, architecture, and poetry. What poetry [and painting] “knows” is a way of knowing rooted in the movement of our learning selves as they pass into and through the space between the literal and the figurative and experience one reality passing into another. (p. 157) Beyond language, as in democracy, teachers should be able to make real decisions about their lives, have the opportunity to disagree, discuss, and take actions and responsibilities (Mintz, 2017). According to Mintz, as with teachers, a similar claim applies to students in democratic schools, and hopefully to those in mainstream schools. Sir Ken Robinson (as cited in Mintz, 2017) described this simply, in a way that resonates with the common beliefs of many democratic schools around the world: Democratic schools are rooted in the purposes of democracy itself: liberty and the pursuit of happiness, self-determination, and government by and for the people … if we are serious about these principles … we should practice them in our schools … [democratic education] depends on shared respect for individuals and empathy for the needs of the group. It depends on the commitment of the whole community to a sense of common purpose and mutual wellbeing … when practiced properly in schools, democracy actually works. (Forward section, para. 7–9) To think of research in terms of democratic practice is to reflect on inter-embodiment, on being (or beings) in relation, and communities of practice, which Wenger (2013) defines as “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (p. 1). Research becomes a process of exchange that is not separated from the body but emerges through an intertwining of mind and body, self, and other, and through our interactions with the world (Irwin & Springgay, 2008, p. xxii). Therefore, it is important to remain ethical in a way that participants feel safe and willing to be part of this exchange process. While conducting a democratic, holistic, and a personal study, I held space for it to be as such for all participants. 94 In a study such as this, while participants were involved in thinking, talking, cooking, moving around, and eating, it was important to be aware of the social and bodily orientation of each participant. Although through much of its history the community of Windsor House has been homogeneous (i.e., the school is predominantly white and lacks cultural diversity) in terms of representation of educators, as well as students, a change started in the last few years and I was strongly aware of it coming in the year following my study at the school. This awareness was evident in the kitchen though it was not discussed. For instance, the subject of social and bodily orientation came up in terms of the different educational roles and responsibilities between teachers and teacher assistants. That is where I found Sara Ahmed’s (2007) explanation to be beneficial: Whiteness becomes a social and bodily orientation given that some bodies will be more at home in the world that is orientated around whiteness. If we began instead with disorientation, with the body that loses its chair, then the descriptions we offer will be quite different. (p. 160) Beyond whiteness, Ahmed (2007) offers that the world should not necessarily be changed; rather, her point is about the disorientation, that is, awareness. Even if we only begin with a socially and bodily disorientation, we perceive things differently; as such, we must live a life of awareness that permits openness (Irwin & Springgay, 2008). When I refer to whiteness in this context, I am speaking of whiteness in a wider sense, which includes individuals in power and control, as Ahmed (2007) claims, those who are not being stopped, who are aware of otherness, and who are not losing their chair. Whiteness in the context of this study could be a metaphor for feeling at home, or not at home, or on the way home—home in the context of cooking, of democratic education, and of hospitality. Democracy in Schools? What? Years ago, I made connections through Alternative Education Resource Organization (AREO) conferences (2005 and onwards) with members of the Windsor House community. However, it was only in 2008, when I arrived at the IDEC conference in Vancouver, that I made the choice to conduct this study with Windsor House. At that conference, I had the opportunity to lead a workshop with Meghan Carrico, who at that time was a teacher at 95 Windsor House (she has since become the principal of the school). Our workshop was called, “What Should ‘Teacher Training’ Look Like for a Democratic School Staff Person?” During the conference, and more specifically in relation to our workshop, I had many opportunities to observe this community in action, listen to its plurality, and raise ideas for a study with this school. I felt invited. It was at the IDEC 2008 conference in Vancouver where this study became possible, thanks to the Windsor House community. In August 2009, I moved to Vancouver with my family to start my doctoral studies at the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the University of British Columbia. After we had arrived in Vancouver, I visited the school several times. However, I was not ready to delve into this study right away. As W. Pinar (personal communication, May 1, 2012) suggested in one of our conversations, we first needed to study our stories and get lost. This journey of exploring the notion of conversing took me back to my desired dialogue in the conflict zone I was born into—Palestine and Israel. In this personal inquiry, I was able to deconstruct, reflect, wonder, and reconstruct my own (hi)story. Studying dialogue in a context that was close to my heart allowed me to recognize and question connections between the theory and practice of dialogue beyond democratic education. At the IDEC conference in 2013, Meghan Carrico and I realized that the time had arrived for my study with Windsor House. I felt the need to connect first with the Windsor House community and build trust before offering this study. I decided to start with volunteering once a week for a year at Windsor House. During the 2013–2014 school year, I helped in the school with whatever was needed. December 2015 marked the official beginning of the study, when I had completed my maternity leave. This long beginning created a space for an interplay of relationship, trust, communication, willingness, and courage to enter into dialogue. During my volunteering at Windsor House, I learned that the community room (i.e., the kitchen) was a significantly important place for the creation of meaning, understanding, collaboration, and relationship, as well as taking in sustenance. I noted that this happens more often between students or between students and their teachers, but not so often between teachers. I also learned from and with the community that one of the desires of the educators who wished to take part in this study was their interest in allowing meaning to come through art-making (e.g., cooking), not only through conversations. However, the idea of creating meaning through art-making made several educators uncomfortable at first, as they did not 96 consider themselves artists by any means. At the same time they expressed their willingness to explore and engage in creative activities that were familiar to them, such as cooking. Many of the educators commented that if cooking was considered art, they wanted to be called artists. We were eager to cook collaboratively. Therefore, starting from the common ground of cooking offered an aesthetic experience for all our senses. Sharing food incorporates stories, experiences, relationships, memories, and understandings into a lived-embodied experience, which integrates personal and historical context to our complicated conversation of democratic education in this site-specific research (Merleau-Ponty, 2012). Although these personal contexts were not the core issue in this research, it was important for us to understand how each participant entered the creative processes. The community kitchen was the situated space to start our creation of meaning as a group at Windsor House. Being in the kitchen at Windsor House felt, as Irwin (2004) says in relation to the life of artist/researcher/teacher, like “existence that integrates knowing, doing, and making … flow between intellect, feeling, and practice” (p. 29). Undertaking the Study Once participants agreed to join this inquiry, they were asked to take part in the following three study stages that were undertaken over a period of 6 months: (a) small-group, unstructured entry interviews, (b) group meetings while cooking collaboratively, and (c) small-group or individual unstructured exit interviews. At each of these stages I accommodated all participants’ schedule restrictions as much as possible. Stage 1: Small-group, unstructured entry interviews. Of the 22 staff, 16 educators chose to participate. Educators were asked to participate in an unstructured interview in which they were invited to share their meaning of democratic education. These interviews offered each teacher an opportunity to reflect on her or his personal experiences and understanding of democratic education. I arranged for the interviews to be audio-recorded and I also took written notes. Stage 2: Group meetings while cooking collaboratively. We conducted four meetings, each of which were 3 hours in duration. Within these meetings the participants took part in complicated conversations as a whole group while collaboratively cooking. The 97 conversations focused on the meaning of democratic education and its mechanisms. The intention of these complicated conversations was to learn from and participate in creating meaning in third spaces, in which the educational experience of democratic education occurs. I recorded these meetings through pictures, written notes, and videos. Stage 3: Small-group or individual unstructured exit interviews. I asked educators to participate in unstructured interviews following the last group meeting. The interviews took place in small groups and were the final data collection phase. These were the introductory interviews and they were conducted in groups of three to four participants. Although I offered the choice of being cited in this study with pseudonyms, all participants chose to be identified using their own first names. Thus, throughout the thesis, all names referenced are the actual names of participants. First interview – December 9, 2015. Four participants took part in this interview. Two of the staff had worked at Windsor House for many years and the other two for few years. This opportunity of sharing why and when they joined Windsor House and this study brought up ordinary moments and stories that helped to make this interview personal and meaningful. • Meron had taught for 10 years at other schools prior to becoming a Windsor House staff member. She arrived in Vancouver with her children in 1999. She had taught at Windsor House for 17 years at the time of the interview. Meron joined the study because she wanted to support my work on a personal level; she also believes research on democratic education is important. • Heather had been involved in the school a bit longer then Meron. She arrived in Vancouver with her daughters, but not for long—she stayed and they left. She loves the school philosophy. Heather joined the research because it sounded fun, it is nice to get together with all staff members, and she is interested in the study. • Jason first visited Windsor House in 2005 when his daughter was 4 years old and applying for Kindergarten. He had taught at Windsor House for 5 years at the time of 98 the interview. He joined the research due to our long-time friendship. He respects the fact I am doing this work and wants to support my study. • Bronwen had been a Windsor House parent for 4–5 years and a Windsor House staff member for 3–4 years. She chose to participate in this study because she sees me as a member of the community and she wants to support my work. Also, the longer she is at Windsor House, the more she realizes that the work of being engaged in the community is really what democracy is, and she feels it is important work for the world. Second interview – December 14, 2015. Three people took part in this interview. Two participants had worked at Windsor House for many years, and the other one was new to the school, to democratic education, and to the education system in general. The opportunity of sharing why and when they joined Windsor House and this study brought to my attention the need to explore plurality, not only in meaning and perspective but also in food choices during the research. 1. Kelley arrived at Winsor House 19 years ago as a substitute teacher without having any background about the school. He felt connected with the way it runs, the philosophy, and the roles teachers could take. Kelley joined the faculty 18 years ago and has never left. He wanted to help with this study because I am part of the community, and he feels he should help people who have been supportive of the community. 2. Holly started as a family member 3 years ago after having a hard time in mainstream schools, and she happened to stumble upon Windsor House. In the second year she joined as a staff member. She feels that she has grown tremendously from her affiliation. She joined the study because anything she done at Windsor House that was extracurricular in nature has been amazing. 3. Meghan, when studying and travelling, received a phone call from her mother (the founder of Windsor House) asking her to come and replace her for a long period of time because she was sick. Meghan came back to Windsor House without the intention of staying. During that time, she challenged all the rules and structure her mom had created with the students based on her experience growing up at Windsor 99 House as a free school, which over time had become much more structured and rules based. This encounter created a division within the community that led to a split: one group supported of the free school philosophy and practice, and the other chose to go back to other more traditional mainstream schools. Meghan added that she could not teach in a way that is coercive. She did not intend to teach at Windsor House, but she has come to love it. Meghan joined the study because she loves doctoral research about Windsor House and she has had a personal connection with me through the international democratic schools community. Third interview – December 15, 2015. Three people took part in this interview. Two of them have worked at Windsor House for many years and the other one has been at the school for few years. This opportunity of sharing why and when they joined Windsor House and this study highlighted the importance of personal communication before the official starting date of the research. 1. Linda decided to join the study after several good conversations she had with me. She is excited about me doing doctoral research involving Windsor House. She thinks that the research could help Windsor House because the participants benefit the most. 2. Helen, the founder of Windsor House, was delighted to be part of this study because she feels that anything that I am doing is important. We have known each other for more than 10 years at the time of the interview. Helen founded the school for her daughter who did not do well in the mainstream system. 3. Andre wanted to support this research because he has been investigating democratic education and advocating for democratic education. Fourth interview – December 17, 2015. Three people took part in this interview. All three participants have worked at Windsor House for several years and arrived for different reasons. This study and the opportunity of sharing why and when they joined Windsor House allowed them to find shared perspectives and clarify expectations. 1. David arrived at Windsor House when he was 11 years old after a long journey. He hated school, left his first school, tried other schools, homeschooled (informally), 100 tried more schools, and eventually found Windsor House. Since arriving, in some ways he has never left Windsor House; after he graduated, he returned to apply for a Winsor House position—and got it. What brought him back was the feeling that he wanted to help kids have the same powerful, wonderful, and transformative experience that he had as a kid. He joined the Windsor House staff in September 2011 and has worked full time ever since. He was happy to participate in this study because he wants to better understand Windsor House, as well as other democratic schools in general. He thinks the movement of child-centred education can learn a lot from itself and it needs to do this learning before it can grow to become more mainstream. 2. Ray felt he was fortunate that the Gulf Islands school district chose to accept Windsor House into their group because after leaving the Gulf Islands he was able to find a position at Windsor House, a circumstance for which he is eternally grateful. His time at the school has helped him grow on many levels. He started at the school about 4 years ago. He took part in the study because he was asked by a person he sensed was dedicated and because he wanted to represent the diversity of the staff. 3. Tina was looking for a better environment for her 13-year-old son who did not fit the mainstream school system. They had already tried homeschooling and found that was not a good fit either. She came to the school as a parent in 2007 and did the parent participation thing so well that they asked to hire her as an education assistant in 2010. She worked as an education assistant for a couple years and then they hired her as the school’s life coach in 2012. She now works part time as an education assistant and part time as a life coach, mentoring staff with their coaching approach to education, teaching new staff the coaching approach, and offering coaching workshops to the wider community. Fifth interview – January 11, 2016. Three people attended this interview. All three of them have worked at Windsor House for few years. This study and the opportunity of sharing why and when they joined Windsor House brought to my attention the fact that only three of the participants refer to themselves as teachers. 101 1. Corin said her children came to the community first. She followed her children but knew several people from the community for many years, so the school was not new to her. Corin had taught at Windsor House for 3 years at the time of the interview. She decided to join the study because she also did some research on the school and is happy to return the favour by participating. 2. Ellen first heard about the Windsor House School from her high school friend, who was sending her two children to Windsor House. They had many philosophical conversations that piqued Ellen’s interest. Then she attended a reconciliation conference, where she met Meghan (the principal). At that conference Meghan and Ellen talked about science education in a broader perspective, including Ellen’s cosmology studies and her culturally based math and science work with a First Nation community. Meghan then invited Ellen to visit Windsor House. A year later, when there were changes in her school district, Ellen visited the school and joined a Windsor House overnight community camping trip, which made the final connection. She decided to join this study because she thinks it is interesting. 3. Kristen came to Windsor House after leaving her previous teaching position as she was looking to teach outdoor education. A series of events led her to Meaghan, who mentioned that Windsor House was hiring, so she joined the school. She did not come with any background of democratic education; she had only taught in traditional mainstream schools. At the time of this study she was in her first year teaching at Windsor House, but she had many years teaching in mainstream education prior to that. She decided to join the study because she thought it was a good way for her to participate, as she was new to the school community. She felt it was a way to get to know people more, and she did not have much education or experience in democratic education. She felt the study was a good way for her to enter into the conversation. Ingredients are ready for our cooking. To summarize this chapter, rather than focusing on methodologies only, I chose to present the methodologies as the paths we took together on our quest to collaboratively create meaning. By doing so, this chapter provided a sense of what skills and tools supported the participants and me during the study. In the 102 next chapter, I review the details and examples of participants’ life experiences from the study process of what happened. 103 Chapter 5: I Am Here With You Figure 6. Hospitality. Photo by Ofira Roll. “What is more important is to live the life of inquiry in the liminal messy spaces between the roles, activities, and sites of who I am professionally and personally” (Irwin, 2006, p. 79) 104 I am crying the pain of killing and dying around me. I am crying the flags that ask to separate us. I am crying the walls that divide us from them. I am crying the fear of not knowing how to bring us together. I am crying the lack of togetherness and trust. I am crying the money before hearts. I am crying the absence of sense of belonging to human tribe. I am crying the fight over who owns the hummus. I am crying the need to live one truth. I am crying the ego fights over ownership. I am crying the fear of encountering changes. I am crying the pain of mothers giving birth and losing their children to war. I am crying the personal cry that goes through layers of details. I am crying the cry that needs to be cried. I am here, with you, at home and far from home. I am here, with you, wishing for a pause. I am here, with you, wanting to remember that our voices matter. I am here, with you, looking in the eyes of plurality. I am here, with you, not knowing what's next. I am here, with you, coming from the heart. I am here, with you, hoping for more voices and less wars. I am here with you to inquire into our liminal messy spaces. I am here, with you, to listen to your stories. I am here, with you, to share with you my story. I am here, with you. Are you with me? 105 When I was asked to join a panel named Israel, Canada, and Me in the age of Trump, I was not prepared to cry. Posters of the event were up around the city, waiting to be seen. An article was published in the Jewish Independent Canada newspaper with all panellists’ names. I felt prepared. However, the night before the panel I began to feel different. While putting my thoughts in writing for the panel, I ended up crying—crying the poem that began this section. In this experience I realized the importance of reflexive living inquiry and how hard it is to stay open and inviting, to welcome dialogue with people who perceive democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech differently than I do, as if the topic was almost not the core of our encounter but the encounter itself. This relates to the encounter of our plurality, as mentioned in the opening quote of this chapter, “in the liminal messy spaces between the roles, activities, and sites of who I am professionally and personally” (Irwin, 2006, p. 79). It is also the encounter of our ontologies, that is, each attendee’s beliefs about reality before we even start the conversation. I came to realize that coming to have a complicated conversation about such a loaded topic, as politics, without understanding the range of views we hold about reality in that hall might limit our ability to listen to each other. It was crucial to remind ourselves that reality is not binary. The attendees in the hall could not be divided into common simple division of them and us. Although there was such a feel in the hall, there were definitely multiple ontologies in the hall. In the moment though, it could be perceived as if the hall could be divided into those who came from the realism ontology and those who came from the relativism ontology. By claiming that, I suggest that there were attendees who perceived reality as a collection of facts and truth that could be deemed to be right and wrong. Those individuals may embrace a realism ontology. On the other hand, some attendees perceived reality as less defined and more relatively in flux. Those individuals may tend toward a relativism ontology. However, there were attendances on the whole spectrum between these two ontologies. In that case, from my personal experience within conflict zones, complicated conversations could switch quickly to blaming that involve terms such as lies, blindness, or irresponsibly, since people truly experience reality differently. In my experience, while people are not aware of and open to a different set of beliefs about reality, it is nearly impossible to bridge listening and sharing plurality in a safe space. 106 The invitation to join this panel was an interruption for me yet it offered me an opportunity to think beyond a personal sphere. At the same time, I felt it was an invitation to explore an enhanced meaning of dialogue in a democratic setting, while being challenged on a personal level in the context of the conflict that I come from, that is, the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. The second interruption arrived the night before the panel, when all participants were notified that the event would need to be patrolled by police officers because a right-wing group planned to interrupt the event. Interruption after interruption calls for our adaptations. The event interrupted me in different ways. In the process of planning the event, creating the advertisement for the event, and then participating in the event, there were opportunities for me to re-live the questions and challenges this study explores. This experience afforded me an opportunity to reconsider my understanding of listening in the Windsor House environment. In a way, it felt like a call from home, where dialogue is desired by many and yet feels out of reach. The experience was asking me to create bridges for experiencing hospitality in a deep sense of relation with others. I experienced hospitality when I became a stranger yet, ironically feeling welcome to begin again in a democratic way. This discussion of the panel links back to this study, where I was called to listen and be with all participants despite our differences and interruptions. I strove to remain aware that we arrive from different ontologies, terms, and values, although we may be perceived as a homogeneous group with clear boundaries. This section conveys the sense of the inquiry that took place throughout this study. The themes grew organically from participating in the study, listening to audio files, watching videos from this study, and from my personal reflexive inquiry. The themes span gatherings and interviews. I named the themes after reflecting upon participants’ comments, readings, and my experiences as a researcher. I began the analysis process by listening to the interviews and the videos, which I then transcribed. I continued with colour coding of the transcript, paying attention to different themes that emerged in the making of meaning. I viewed this process as a spiral, as my analysis repeatedly brought me to a point that I realized I needed to return back and continue differently. Then, after ending up with far too many themes, I tried to create an umbrella coding, one that included several related 107 themes. At that stage of the process, I realized the themes were not linear but rather crossed meetings and interviews. Each theme tells different yet connected stories. There is no clear division between themes. In the process of sewing this quilt of themes together in creating the story of this study, I came to terms with the notion of tension that Biesta (2015b) offers, that is, the tension that exists between being in the world without destroying the world or withdrawing from it. How one analyzes the collected stories and then re-presents them in a thesis is also about being with the stories and finding ways to engage with them, while not destroying them. Steeping in this tension takes courage, as it forces one to encounter the work of frustration and resistance. This is the middle ground between these two ends, which Biesta (2015b) calls “exist[ing] in the world in a grownup way” (5:06). The two ends are the destroying mode (in the name of one’s desires) and the withdrawing mode (which leads to self-destruction). The frustrating ground is the gatherings and feasts because participants had to go through and engage with resistance (Biesta, 2015c). At times, moments occurred at the gatherings when frustrations arose and could destroy the establishment of dialogue. Although these moments of encounters and conflict are the heart of democratic dialogue, the fear of withdrawing or destroying was present. Bickford (1996), who explores the process of listening in a pluralistic democracy, asserts it is not about reaching consensus but rather staying in the space of listening and having differences. It is important to do so in such a way that another conversation is possible. In that sense, dialogue is always in the making and can never be declared. Fortunately, throughout the interviews and gatherings, no participants chose to withdraw from the research, The participants gathered together to create encounters of self and the world, which resulted in the themes discussed in the section that follow. And the story begins. Individual, Collective, and Democratic From the perspective of democratic education, the commonly used discourse of ‘control’ in education among policymakers and politicians may be perceived as a 108 nondemocratic act. While in mainstream educational environments there is an attempt to meet these standards, that is, the desire of achieving specific input and output goals, in democratic education it is the other way around. A controlled environment is not encouraged and is often criticized. Although mainstream education may or may not achieve these input and output goals, it remains a desirable ambition (Biesta, 2010). On the contrary, in democratic education, the discourse is around individuals’ needs, their ways of relating to and connecting with each other as a collective, and how it all comes together with the assistance of a democratic structure. From my perspective, Windsor House offers time for individuals to be present without rushing into seeding thoughts. It is a school environment that is not excessively busy with transmitting knowledge, but rather, is concerned about individuals finding their own path. As Helen shared with Corin at the second gathering:1 My formal schooling was useless, or worse than useless, and my teacher training was a joke, so my real learning happened at Windsor House … what I learn more and more is that it depends. Everything depends, right? So if you get to work with the kids who say they want to make a film, but in fact, the truth is that three of them want to make film, two of them do not want to be left out, and one of them does not want to do it at all, but there is some pressure, somewhere … so you are lucky if you get the truth, where three out of six, actually want to do it. That’s the hard work at Windsor House … that’s why I think Windsor House teachers work harder than anybody else. You can’t just stand and deliver. Which is what I did with 45 kids in the regular system. I just stood, delivered, and if they got it, good. If they did not, I tested them all and everything.… There are those who don’t want to do anything, and that’s is such a difficult thing for me to work with. [It’s] so hard, because I so much want the children to produce something, so we can say, “See, Windsor House works, right?” As Helen stated, the needs of each student in the group requires careful listening. My encounters with the Windsor House community gave me an opportunity to consider individual needs from a more holistic viewpoint and with a more thoughtful approach. 1 The descriptions include sharing data from different gatherings and interviews. The data are presented by theme, not shared in chronological order. 109 Reflecting back on my lived experience, I realize that most, if not all, of the collaborations, communities, and groups with whom I was involved were built on the foundations of collective faith and/or collective needs, values, and thoughts, rather than on those of individuals. This realization was one of my ‘aha’ moments in this journey with Windsor House. Knowing that thoughts are an important component in the process of individual and collective becoming, it is necessary to provide space and time for thoughts to be processed individually and collectively. As Bohm (2004) elaborates: The trouble is that some of those results that thought produces are considered to be very important and valuable. Thought produced the nation, and it says that the nation has an extremely high value, a supreme value, which overrides almost everything else. The same may be said about religion. Therefore, freedom of thought is interfered with, because if the nation has high value it is necessary to continue to think that the nation has high value. Therefore you’ve got to create a pressure to think that way. You’ve got to have an impulse, and make sure everybody has got the impulse, to go on thinking that way about his nation, his religion, his family, or whatever it is that he gives high value. He’s got to defend it. (p. 10) Bohm (2004) clarifies the roles of collective thoughts within individual thoughts. He claims that defending collective thoughts may make one defend “a lot of things you would rather not accept by saying they are wrong” (Bohm, 2004, p. 10). Bohm’s (2004) clarification shed light on practices regarding individual and collective thoughts in the Windsor House community. Mainstream education’s main focus is preparation to actively join the dominant culture. Within Windsor House, the situation is almost the opposite, in which individual thoughts receive the time and space they need. At Windsor House, community members and staff provide the time, space, and respect to individual thoughts and needs for each member in the community. Thus, individuals reflect and explore upon their way in the world before they work with others to create their collective thoughts known. Doing so brings to attention an important question: Do collective thoughts exist independently, or do they interrupt individual thoughts once they are brought to our attention? I find this question to be important because I believe that avoiding the discussion about the existence and influence of collective thoughts might be a risky act, as 110 avoiding the influences of the collective thoughts does not take those the influences away. Thus, it is critical to bring all thoughts and their influences to individual and collective awareness. This realization also brought me to think about how respect and trust on a personal level are essential for people’s growth. I realized the importance of coming from the individual perspective first, holding this space for each one of the students (and, at times, for the educators and family members too), and only later moving to the collective needs and thoughts. As Holly shared during her first interview: I am really quiet and introverted and sensitive, and the community room is really big for being that way … I stepped into big thing that I did not create it (it was Tina). It was a big thing that passed on. It was wild and crazy, and I did it. I would not trade it for the world. It made me grow so much as a person. I did it, and again, I would not trade it. It was really powerful. I have never grown more in my life, probably in these couple of years then I have ever before, maybe when I was infant, I grew so much. I asked Holly, “What have been you asked? Create boundaries? Create safe space for different voices?” Holly continued: [I have] develop[ed] awareness for the moment and myself, and I have been forced to look at myself when I have not wanted to. It is almost a Buddhist experience for me. I have found that I am not really made for that, and so I do not do it any more, and with the help of Meghan and everybody is so supportive here that I am able to find other ways to be here and not have it wreck me … in a quitter place.… It is fantastic. It is way easier having the support from this community. That is something huge because I am not religious person and I do not have tons of family here. I have found a community that I did not have. This intention to provide hospitality, in which people have the time and space to experience and engage in the world without the pressure of the collective thoughts, as 111 Derrida (2000) offers, is a common practice in the Windsor House environment. Bohm (2004) explains: Thought defends its basic assumptions against evidence that they may be wrong. In order to deal with this, we have got to look at thought, because the problem is originating in thought. Usually when you have a problem, you say, “I must think about it to solve it.” But what I’m trying to say is that thought is the problem. What, therefore, are we going to do? We could consider two kinds of thought—individual and collective. Individually I can think of various things, but a great deal of thought is what we do together. In fact, most of it comes from the collective background. Language is collective. Most of our basic assumptions come from our society, including all our assumptions about how society works, about what sort of person we are supposed to be, and about relationships, institutions, and so on. Therefore we need to pay attention to thought both individually and collectively. (pp. 10–11) It is important to recognize the need to support these foundations for individuals to shape, question, and create their own experience in the world, and not develop foundations based on collective background and thoughts. At Windsor House, educators do so as a way to host others. This is a relational act of a living chain of communication, which Bakhtin (1965) refers to in the context of language and the ongoing meaning of words. As Helen shared in the third gathering regarding listening to whom the students are and let them co-create and shape, I have moved from being an absolute dictator, when I was teaching in a regular public school … It was fun to just sit back most of the time and see how people work things out, and I was amazingly impressed with the incredible solutions they come up with that we never thought about… I find this invitation to choose if one desires to join the collective at one point, allows people to experience something similar to what a/r/tography offers, but in a different way. This invitation links to Irwin’s (2006) quote as she talks about of the importance of inquiry for allowing ourselves to linger in liminal spaces, while trying different “roles, activities, and sites of who I am professionally and personally” (p. 79). This liminal space that Irwin (2006) 112 refers to is offered as part of the whatever culture at Windsor House, which allows students to try out different roles, characters, and standpoints when they feel ready or are able to do so. This provides students with the freedom to choose to try different sides of themselves if and when they wish. This navigation and search of their own path is a life-long process. As Daniel Greenberg (2017) elaborates: What that does in particular is respect the loneliness of the search that each person has for their own path in life. Because in reality, when all is said and done, as the existentialists have written about at great length, everybody suffers from a degree of personal aloneness in the cosmos, with which they have to be able to come to grips. This is understood and respected in the school for students of all ages, however young. That’s why we don’t push people, force people together, force people to cooperate, force people to collaborate, force people to get along. We let them be alone just as we let them be together. We let them be themselves. (para. 45) Greenberg (2017) clarifies the importance of letting people be whatever they need and want to be, and doing so out of respect. The school, educators, and authority do not know what works or what is right. Although Sudbury Valley School (the institution that Greenberg wrote about), Windsor House, and other democratic education settings may be perceived as mainly focusing on the individual (i.e., fostering an ‘it is only about me’ attitude). However, it is important to recognize, as Maslow’s (as cited in McLeod, 2017) hierarchy of needs refers to, that basic needs must be met before self-actualization can be achieved. Although there are different ways to challenge this hierarchy for not taking into consideration other dimensions of life beyond animalistic drives, such as selflessness, spiritual, cultural, and charity, I find Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to be a useful template that sometimes helps people to understand why and how individuals act as they do. As Helen (the founder of Windsor House) states, “I found that you cannot force the flower.… I learned to be less certain about individual children’s needs.” This understating of being aware of personal needs while also being less certain about what works for others, leads people to ask for clarifications and enables the consent culture, that is, “understanding that each person knows what is best for themselves. You have no right to use your power against them for their decision not to participate” (Only With Consent, n.d., para. 5). 113 While welcoming individual needs and valuing personal journeys, the questions of how, where, and by whom the collective forms remain open. The collective in democratic education environment is formed through people’s need to come together, rather than an imposed structure. In this context, at the second gathering, David (a staff member) offered the continuum concept (Liedloff, 1975), also known also as attachment parenting (Sears & Sears, 2001), as his personal view of this connection between individuals and the collective: In attachment parenting, you have to hold the baby until the baby says, “Put me down.” As soon as you put the baby down, you just create brain damage. The baby has to get to the point when it says, “Put me down. I am ready.” Anything before that, it is a traumatic adjusted learning … creates the first step into addiction needs. So, I think individuals need to know themselves well enough to be part of a group. I do not know why it is so slow, but we certainly give kids huge amount of time to be individuals, and I think that we see, at some point, maybe sometimes around 16 to 20 years old, they all lodge into being part of the group.… They just want to be individuals. They want to be OK. As David shared, in order to move from individual needs to collective needs, one must first address the need for a space—each person must recognize his or her own needs. This gap is not the same for all individuals, as each person has different reasons, and much depends on personal context. David described holding the baby until the child is ready to be on the floor. To put David’s understanding in a lived experience form, Helen (the founder of Windsor House) shared how amazed she is every time she sees a Windsor House theatre production, as David leads the students through this process: “I am absolutely astounded when I go to the production because it is amazing, and I credit you for creating that because you patiently do whatever needs to be done.” This caring attitude towards all participants is essential. David added that the only reason the production works is that he spends time making sure that people know their cues. The expectation is clearly set that when the audience is there, David cannot be on stage with them. 114 As the exploration of individual and collective intersections continued in the second gathering, the sounds of participants cooking collaboratively filled the pauses and gaps in our conversations—the sounds of cutting boards and washing vegetables and the smell of cooking permeated the room. The term collective continued to unfold with new understandings. As Jason (a staff member) added, “Based on the person though, accommodation of nature, nurture, whatever … learning to work collectively, or even considering other people, can be a life-long journey, right?” Bronwen continued discussing Jason and David’s statements by expressing that she thinks we need to embrace our collectivity as humans. She questioned the role of adults in democratic education in pursuing the collective. Bronwen believes staff can only accomplish this by truly seeing the students. Bronwen believes that fostering the collective is about compassion and that democracy needs compassion. With Bronwen’s contribution regarding compassion and the collective, different participants began to link individual needs, collective needs, and democracy. Corin added: For me working together, collaboratively, is the enactment of democracy. It is about dialogue. You cannot have dialogue by yourself. You need to be with somebody else; you form your own ideas about the world through dialogue, in relationships with the community. However, Ahmed (2012) highlights the need to pay attention to social and bodily disorientation that may limit our freedom of being in relationship with the other. This notion of forming one’s ideas about the world through dialogue is challenged by Ahmed (2012): When a category allows us to pass into the world, we might not notice that we inhabit that category. When we are stopped or held up by how we inhabit what we inhabit, then the terms of habitation are revealed to us. We need to rewrite the world from the experience of not being able to pass into the world [that is being able to be with]. (p. 176) I view Ahmed’s (2012) notion of being stopped as being afforded an opportunity to reconsider one’s ability to pass another without noticing. To pass in the public space means 115 that one is not being marked as an individual who does not belong. On the contrary, being stopped means to be marked by others as one who should not pass without being asked for clarifications or permission. Thus, while unfolding the notion of being with, the collective is asked to be aware of the one who is being stopped and is unable to pass into the world. It is the responsibility of those who are not stopped to be aware of their habitation and listen to those who are stopped. This awareness that Ahmed is calling for requires active listening, which creates a pause within a communication exchange. The pause may enable the freedom of those who get stopped, and, in doing so, may offer others the experience of not being able to pass into the world. To bring it back to the experience at Windsor House, during the second gathering, this intersection of freedom and being stopped (Ahmed, 2012) surfaced 30 minutes into the dialogue. I offered an experiment, which was an invitation of three random participants to be the only ones who conversed verbally. The rest of the participants would be stopped. As I reflected after, During the experiment of only three people talking, I experienced a different flow around the room. More people are listening; more people stopped chopping for few seconds while listening. Several people looked like they wished they could add something. Although there is a feel of being controlled for the non-speaking participants ones, which was not easy for several people, it was powerful to see that the experiment also freed a few participants each round, which means everyone experienced more freedom. This freedom requires active listening. The experiment took the whole group to a new level of communication—a space of listening and being more aware of what is shared and what was kept quiet. This experience was born from a different exercise that I offered during the first gathering, in which I suggested we continue cooking together without talking for 5 minutes. All participants agreed to engage with this challenge. At first, many participants found it challenging. David even mentioned that being forced to be quiet for 5 minutes felt that we were back in school—“Shut up and work.” He shared his experience after I asked if we would like to continue for another 5 minutes. Following the exercise, I noted the difference between listening and being listened to—experiencing different truths. As I wrote: 116 Once I feel that there is a fixed mindset, it is hard for me to breathe. I feel it is different here. The communication here at Windsor House releases the tension of knowing the solution. There is no one truth, solution, or final say. This communication requires a heartful engagement. It asks us to be there, not just pretending we are. It is an organic process that allows breathing. Back and forth between truths frees me from holding one truth. Jason elaborated and shared his experience: I find Windsor House … it seems more organic here. The way it evolves and always changing. When I think about the term democracy, I think about something much more regimented and systematic, but what we are doing is a more organic process than that. But then maybe, that’s probably how democracy should be, but not how I experienced it in my life. It is like how tree grows, right? Jason shared the tension he recognizes between what democracy offers in contrast to the organic way of Windsor House. It is clear that he prefers the flow of Windsor House rather than being systematic and structured. However, even though Jason’s vision appealed to many in the Windsor House community, there are many counterviews that call for attention to be paid to the structure within this flow and the organic process. As Linda explained at the second gathering, I think it must have the structure for it to happen, so we need both. It cannot be just organic. You need the structure. Democracy is not just voting as a democracy. There are so many ways. Democracy means government by the people. It can be consensus decision making. It can be majority. There are so many different ways. Participatory democracy. Representative democracy. Voting is only one way of making decisions in democracy. These terms of democratic, organic, individual, and collective filled and even led the dialogue of our first and second gatherings. It was interesting to experience the educators who were there for many years, as Kelly (18 years) encountered newcomers. Even in the interview, Kelly mentioned his interest in this encounter. He stated: 117 I have been in these meetings for 4 hours every week in the last 18 years. I am interested … there is a turn over in staff, a lot of people that have been here for long time and just in the last what 5–6 years. New staff coming with different eyes and things like that so that might be one thing … for me maybe link between the new and the old — getting a sense what these eyes are seeing. Dialoguing among new and old staff members is necessary in understanding how the macroview of democratic education are fundamental in the creation of a caring democratic environment in a school. In doing this, people carry different views, pedagogies, and philosophical understandings. Thus, it is important to hold this space for complicated conversations to happen as part of the lived experiences, in which to nurture a dialogical atmosphere. As Pinar (2011) claims, “Lived experience informs the complicated conversation—currere— that is the school curriculum. For the curriculum to come alive, it must be embodied, spoken from the moment as experienced” (p. 143). The third gathering was without cooking; therefore, it was less embodied. This led to a meeting that was more focused on what would happen the following year, with people expressing their worries and fears. This gathering was less metaphorical or connected to sensational understanding. At the second gathering, Helen then offered a new perspective on the term individual: “I am not in the stance of individual; I am in the stance of ‘it depends. ’” Helen’s perspective may appear simple and obvious; however, I recognized a deep understanding in her stance. Helen offers an organic listening, one that is attentive and adaptive for changes and needs. Such listening may free people from labels that may get them stuck thus hindering their engagement with the world. Helen’s position of “it depends” invites curiosity into people’s lived daily experiences. Her statement about the individual connects to another term she uses often, which is the whatever culture. For her, this means that students and staff come as they are right now and with whatever they have at this given moment. I reflected on the following after the first gathering: I pay attention to the teacher who does not make any food. Is this ‘the whatever culture’ of Windsor House? She arrived to this gathering after a 3-day camping trip with her students and another teacher (who is in the room as well). It was really rainy 118 throughout the trip. All approach her and listen, and talk, and hug her. As an observer it feels supportive. It is 1 hour and 29 minutes into the meeting when she joins the cooking for the first time. She chooses to fill up the peppers, assisting Bronwen. The whatever culture carries a wider meaning than this practical example of helping with the cooking. It offers a different sense of being in the world, one that exists independently. As I reflected following the second gathering I noted: The time at Windsor House has taught me, once again, how to simply be. They shared with me an attitude towards life. I observed. I listened. I challenged. I re-learned how to be. I felt I was asked to wonder how I could stay who I am in any moment while respecting and celebrating the whatever. To begin with, it is important to clarify what I mean by the whatever culture. One way to look at the whatever culture is in the broad sense of being in the world without being controlled by others’ judgments, fears, and values. To be and to let others be. For many whom I have talked with in the Windsor House community, it is obvious that the whatever culture plays a central role in a democratic school. At first glance, the whatever culture may seem to be passive, irresponsible, and exclusive. It was only when I embraced the whatever culture that I could ‘wear it’ and walk less as an observer and more as an equal member within this community. This journey with Windsor House took me on a personal quest that I had called for. A journey in which experiencing or being in dialogue is not considered to be an educational technique or a skill one should learn at school but rather a basic human right in a democratic society and beyond. Being With, Listening, and Assisting During the first interview several participants mentioned how often they are together in meetings. Although they meet often, they feel they are missing individual interactions within the collective. They miss the opportunities they used to have of being with each other, simply listening to one another. Meron put it simply in her first interview: “I am looking for us to be with each other.” She explained that her desire focussed on listening and exploring possibilities relating to personal, collective, and democratic, which would in turn connect back to a broader sense of we with our stories. 119 The Being with, listening and assisting theme relates to the previous theme, individual, collective, and democratic, and expands the former by bringing it to practice, as if to claim that communication requires different skills in a whatever-culture reality in which individual needs come first. By claiming that, I suggest that the process of being within a culture that embraces ongoing changes of all sorts, such as gender, name, outfits, and more, calls for attentive listening. I reflected on these moments before the third gathering: I take everything out of the bags as bananas, chips, carrots, nuts, cucumbers, dolmades, pickles, halva, and sprouts. I arrived with full bags, occupied with a jetlag, and feeling a bit slower and more attentive to my surroundings. I feel that I do not need to pretend I am all good because I am a bit off, but I am confident that it would all be good and acceptable. I will be myself. Yet, one may feel left out without the reaction to the individual’s arrival, deeds, comments that mark communication and being with. As Meron shared during the last gathering: This is something that would never happen in New Zealand [that people are in the same car not communicating with others].… They mean, I heard you—even after so many years in North America, I feel this wall of no reactions…. Windsor House helped me to feel connected everywhere after my move to North America. Although, at Windsor House it took some practise for me to experience that wall of no reaction as a welcoming of me in a whatever way, I came to understand that it holds this space. To me, the wall of no reactions feels like no one has acknowledged or reacted to my existence. Thus, it is a contradiction to accept that Windsor House is a welcoming place with its hospitality while at the same time it is a daily experience of this wall of no reactions. As Meron referred to in her experience in North America, this may feel unwelcoming to newcomers. It is important to understand that the wall of no reactions comes out of respect, especially in the context of consent culture, that is, the intention of giving people space to simply be, without a need to explain their choice to others. In a consent culture, it is common to ask, 120 “Is that okay,” or to ask or give a comment before taking an action. However, I admit that at times I found it to be an isolating experience. Thus, in the process of listening to whatever is needed in the study, during my pre-study visits and during the interviews, I recognized my need of assistance, within a foreign school culture. Coming from a culture in which food serves as a social glue, food making in collaboration was my form of assistance. Through my reflections after the last gathering, I wrote: For me the real process here is this artistic collaboration between us with food, to challenge each of us in our thinking, expectations, understanding, and experiences in this school. That’s the idea of being with and being assisted, and food offers us great metaphors to work with. Following this note, the question of hospitality surfaced, as it did several times during our gatherings in the context of feeling welcome. During the first two gatherings, we convened around particular recipes. The recipes were chosen in advance and participants were welcomed to do any adaptations they desired. With these preset recipes people didn’t feel in the flow of being together. However, throughout the third and the last gatherings, when there were no set menus, participants were much more attuned to one another. For instance, during the last gathering I noted: This time there is a new feel in the room. Plates are set on the table, with chairs for everyone. There is a fairness I am noticing in the room among people. The ones who prepared a lot now allow themselves to sit and chat and others set the table. It did not feel like that in previous gatherings, which were filled with personal accomplishments, concerns regarding the food making, and the collaboration it requires. Participants make the food while eating bites from all around the table. This gathering has a relaxed nature. In retrospect, within the theme of hospitality and feeling welcome in the whatever culture, I found more notes from the third and last gatherings and fewer references to these themes in the other meetings. It means that in those conversations we felt more connected to the flow among participants as opposed to holding set expectations from each one of us and us 121 as a group. For instance, during the last gathering, there was a conversation about how each of us perceives hospitality. I wrote: It is 72 minutes into the meeting, and the conversation around the notion of hospitality starts. The connection I [Ofira] bring to the table is food. Several people talk about it—that, yes, food delivers hospitality in a more visible and tangible ways. At the same time, Meron emphasizes that she always experienced and thought of Windsor House as an extremely hospitable place to be in, although it would usually not be around food sharing. Several agreed. I agree with participants understanding that I made the choice of offering the food as our artistic collaboration with the understanding that food nurtures us and offers a welcoming feel of hospitality. Participants feel blessed for this new opportunity because prior to this event, some of the participants did not feel that food was part of creating a welcoming environment. This experience at Windsor House taught me that hospitality and feeling welcome required us to let go and accept others. The third gathering had this feel. It did not begin on time. As the video started, the room remained empty, and I felt as if we were waiting for something to happen. For 16 minutes the room lay waiting. I have no idea why participants did not arrive on time. I put the spanakopita in the oven and organized several dishes on the table before anyone arrived. I felt the need to remain open to whatever this gathering had to offer. The menu for the third gathering seemed to be waiting for decisions. I paused, listened, and let the group share the need of the community. It was a call for a readymade curriculum that allowed participants to be together as guests in the middle of the chaos of packing the school before the big move. As I wrote in my notes from the third gathering: The table is filled with veggies and fruits, chips, and homemade hummus. People are so happy they do not need to think today and can simply be—being with each other. People are asking less for permission of any kind. They all joined the table at their own pace. People do not gather around the table as they did in previous gatherings. People do not feel they have to come and do.… Kelley keeps organizing the table; Kristen is getting involved, … washing and cutting cucumbers. While I organize the food, I snack on everything and offer everyone as well. I am here to listen to what this gathering 122 offers. The curriculum adaptation was needed with the assistance of listening and the desire for being with. Hospitality is not only about what is served, but also about what does not get served and for what reason. Our gatherings were meant to be hospitable and at the same time inclusive for anyone with special dietary restrictions. Being with, listening, and assisting received new meaning in one entry interview when Meghan clearly stated that she would be satisfied in gatherings if we have meat. Thanks to the food assistance, I realized that being hospitable, in a broader term, is about listening to all needs, including the ones who are considered part of the majority, dominant group, or culture. As I noted during the first gathering: At 106 minutes, I share a moment from one entry interview in which one participant brought to my attention that the needs of meat eaters should be equally respected as those who are gluten free. In our era, when many people are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free, it is our responsibility to make meat eaters feel comfortable and welcome with their choices. This realization was a surprise for me. I realized that paying attention to my blind spot is part of the Windsor House culture of listening and assisting everyone, which is an integral part of the whatever culture. This realization reminded me of home, of being with my parents and my grandmother, and made me rethink the inclusiveness of these places that I had perceived as hospitable. The food assisted us in this study as a metaphor in understanding students’ needs and curriculum adaptations. However, growing up in an environment in which no special dishes were prepared to meet an individual’s needs gave me a different perspective of the term hospitable. Such an environment made me believe that hospitality means: I am here, ready for you to arrive; thus the food is ready beforehand without knowing who would show up at the door. One would not remain hungry or be excluded. All food preferences can be easily accommodated, as visitors adapt their own meals by serving themselves what they need from the table that is already laid out. This felt effortless growing up, which made me think of this hospitable attitude as a second nature. I carry it as a methodology for life as an educator, a mother, a researcher, and as a community leader. For me, this concept of 123 hospitality is a philosophy of life, which means that at any moment there is a possibility to make an adaptation to ensure each situation is welcoming for everyone. This is similar to a thought I offered in the conversation in our second gathering. I asked whether participants set intentions for the day as educators at Windsor House, or if they simply arrived, open to adapt and change according to the needs in the group. For me, this intention was similar to arriving at these gatherings with the food prepared before the guests arrived. Many participants claimed that their intentions for the day involve focusing on each child as a whole person as opposed to setting intentions that relate to transmitting knowledge. This led our conversation to the educator’s role in assisting the whole person at Windsor House and educators’ roles in general. I asked the group, “What does it mean about this place that people do not have a set idea or an agreement about their role? What does it mean in your practice?” Meghan responded: That is more challenging as an administrator; the staff are defining their own role; There are differences between people. There are ones who see their role in the big picture and other people do not. There are people who see the gaps, and the ones who are willing to fill the gaps, and others who do not—sometimes because they do not think it is their job, because they do not notice the gaps, or because they are being/doing what they see in front of them and they feel they are called to do and they think it is important. In this regard, the role of an educator at Windsor House is open ended and adaptable to the educator’s ability, desire, and needs in relation to the students’ needs at the moment. It is important to mention here that this unstructured set role at times finds its balance and is sometimes out of balance. This brought to mind Biesta’s (2016) question of what good education means; I investigated this in the context of Windsor House by inviting educators to stay in the tension between being in the world and withdrawing from it or destroying it—by continually questioning and being engaged. Biesta (2016) brings to our attention the notion of what good education means, not in the search for a truth or an answer, but for pulling us back to wonder what good education is now, for each of us, for 124 the society we live in, and within the global context. Biesta (2016) talks about the three domains of potential purposes of education: qualification, socialization, and subjectification. Biesta (2016) claims that we seem to have lost connection to these three domains in the rush of the evidence-based era, which narrows the conversation to almost solely qualification driven, which is far from the whole-person approach. The conversation at Windsor House is mostly based on two out of these three domains—socialization and subjectification. As Kristen (a new teacher at Windsor House) explained on the first gathering: What I [Kristen] offer here is that they [curriculum designers] may know better knowledge wise, but not context wise. I am the one that knows the students and their personal context more than the outsiders who delivered the out-of-context curriculum. Kristen’s comment links well to Biesta’s (2016) concepts of socialization and subjectification in terms of getting to know who students are and how she adjust the curriculum to facilitate student interests. During the second gathering, the conversation continued regarding the teacher’s position as an assistant, and the question that arose was of the many ways and in what ways the position of a traditional teacher can be challenged so that at any time the role can shift, enabling different individuals to lead in the classroom. This question calls to mind a common fear among adults, teachers, and parents regarding democratic education—that it is messy and chaotic at all times, and there is no one person to listen to. You cannot go by the book as a democratic schoolteacher. At the last gathering, Meron further elaborated on this: That’s what Windsor House brings. It is not about academic quality. It’s not about your intellect any more than any other part of your whole person. That’s one of the differences between where I came from [New Zealand], and where I am now,… so it is really interesting when you talk about food because you [Ofira] bring so much culture into food preparation. I thought about you when I was leaving, giving my friend a ride, and I met you at the door with all your bags, and I thought, maybe Ofira is used to a different feel…. Maybe where she comes from it would be a big crowd greeting her at 125 the door and helping her carry everything in, and I let her down? I wonder if you see Windsor House as self-absorbed [carrying only about one’s own self]. My honest answer was, it depends. There were times that I felt Windsor House was self-absorbed. It was only over time, after I immersed myself in the school culture, that I experienced it differently. Reflecting back, I understand better the parallel Meron made between her different experiences in New Zealand and at Windsor House and my different experiences in Israel and at Windsor House. She offered the group the lens of looking at individuals as whole people, with their life experiences, qualities, and expectations—educators as well as students. Educators at Windsor House feel assisted and respected as whole people, just as they are expected to assist and respect their students. The requirement from them is to take suitable responsibilities at Windsor House according to their abilities. They do so while using the lens of observing individuals as whole people, which supports everyone in the process of exploring together. At the second gathering, Corin added that most educators at Windsor House define their role as mentors. I then inquired if Meghan’s question to educators, which she had posed at the beginning of the year (what do staff members wish to do this year at Windsor House), encourages all staff to hold that same attitude and perspective with the students, which would offer mentors and students a similar daily life experience? Corin replied, “Definitely, yes.” She continued by bringing up the conversation that Kristen, Ellen, and she had during the entry interview of this study, when they discussed that the three of them were OK with the title teacher, and all three of them had taught in a more traditional schools as well as this democratic school. It is important in this context to mention that all other participants, beside these three, used terms other than a teacher to define their role at Windsor house. In the second gathering, Corin added that, as a woman, she wore many different hats: Here I am a teacher, in a different place I am a mentor, in a different place I am a community artist—and I am that here. I am a teacher here who has responsibilities—that’s why I do not have a problem calling myself a teacher here. While the terms people choose tell a personal story and provide context, I argue that the deeper meaning and understanding of each person’s role in the school is of greater 126 consequence. As Biesta (2015b) describes, what really matters in education and in maintaining meaningful balance are three functions of education and three domains of purpose. He explains that three functions are needed in order to transmit knowledge to others: learning something, for a reason, and from someone (Biesta, 2015b). As mentioned earlier in Chapter 2, the three domains of purposes include (a) socialization, in which students explore who they are; (b) subjectification, in which students deal with the question how are they being in the world; and (c) qualification, in which students are marked, tested, and so forth (Biesta, 2015b). While Windsor House educators put extra effort into assisting with the first two domains of purpose, Biesta’s ideas suggest that attending a democratic school translated into many extra hours of study beyond mainstream school hours when accounting for special events, fields trips, and so on. During the third gathering, several participants shared that, in practice, it is an ongoing experience of trying to make it work, with the struggle of being under constant attack and lacking support of the authorities in terms of the building of the school, as well as, curriculum and pedagogies. For instance, although the majority of Windsor House community members mainly reside in East Vancouver, administrators could not arrange to lease a school building in that area; as a result, the school community always functions within a condition of temporality. This struggle is an ongoing one for Windsor House and is familiar to me from the democratic education struggle in Israel as well. The struggle makes its mark on people on a personal level as well as on the school operation level. Educators are asked to regularly live the ambiguity, adaptations, and changes this struggle offers. As I wrote on the third gathering, The team starts to arrive. It is the beginning of an ending for Windsor House in this location, which was its home for many years. The school starts to look like and feel like a packed-up home before a move. Kelley organizes chairs around the table. Carrots, sprouts, homemade hummus, and dolmades are waiting on the table. It is 15 minutes into the gathering, I understand where I am coming from, making sure there is food on the table when everyone arrives. The participants are dealing with a lot at the moment regarding what’s next. Several participants may lose their position with this move. It is 127 important for me to make them feel welcome. I spent my time organizing, cleaning, making some food, and having some of it ready to snack on right away. I wait for everyone to gather, share concerns, support each other, and feast together. Bringing this theme to an end, I feel the importance in sharing another personal note from a recording I made right after the last gathering. During this study, I repeatedly reminded myself to pay attention to the particular. When one receives the opportunity to connect and engage in the world with the assistance of the particular, then he or she recognizes the importance of practice. As I wrote at the fourth gathering: I feel happiness and sadness in my heart, with the need to cry and celebrate this opportunity I invited into my life to work and study with Windsor House community. I feel that I went through a sort of meaningful transformation, while being part of this process. The understanding of how educators develop and grow together with their students and the staff is really powerful to watch, be with, and study. I realize that I gained a different outlook on this community. As I came to this study, I was convinced my role was to share with participants what hospitality means and learn from them much more about their views and understanding of democratic education. However, now, looking back, I realize that Windsor House hospitality holds wide and meaningful connotations of acceptance of who you are, whenever you come, and whatever you feel like sharing at in any given moment. Thus, to capture the essence of the relationships between dialogue and hospitality in a democratic school means to connect back to Biesta’s call for reclaiming the purposes of education and rethinking what education is ought to be about (Biesta, 2006). My positive intention to study alongside participants, learning about their skills, intentions, and beliefs in democratic education, brought the following piece to life. A piece that blends the different voices and experiences together to meet students’ needs of assistance: Roots are all connected not knowing where it starts, where it ends. Roots and roots and roots. 128 Looking for roots, nurturing roots, cutting roots. Roots of schooling, of social justice, of eco justice, of friendships, of family. Roots of collaboration through arts, life, food, and communication at large. All needs—water, sun, and soil—to grow together. Gardening the complexity of life and fears. Big words connect it all to a simple but complex reality. Reality that is questionable, that offers awareness for what is. Awareness to the uniqueness of each of us. Awareness to when and where it matters that I am I. Awareness to what school offers in this complex reality. Being? Teaching? Assisting? Sailing slowly in the ocean on the way back from the Sunshine Coast, takes these wonders deeper. “Why schooling?” I wonder. The ocean brings the question—why do I bother? What is it in the world that makes me feel I could offer something different? What is this uniqueness we are looking for within and around us? Who am I to re-search teachers? For what reason should I study education? What is my vision in doing so? Fears and wonders and fears and wonders. I wish the garden of humanity could grow wild again. Grow wild outside of community garden plots. Where humans alongside the outdoors grow without being afraid to be themselves. To live our desires and passions. Without fear. Why does fear stop us from being who we are? Does it relate to schooling? What about schooling bothers me? Is it the call for conformity? Being good? Doing it right? Knowing the rules? What is it in the school experience that makes it fearful for many? 129 Fears and wonders and fears and wonders. Fear knocks on my heart again. Does democratic education enable people to be free from fear? Is there a certain way to be a good student? What was school for me? What does it offer now? School. A place where I learned to lie on a daily basis. A place where I met friends but almost always did not have time to BE with them. A place where I have learned to postpone my interests until later. A place that provided me facts out of context. A place I did not like to go to. School. What if we flip it and wonder how school could assist us? What could school assist us with? Assist us in exploring, being, and communicating with each other? Assist us in using valuable knowledge? Assist us in our path of awareness to our inner being? Assist us in our relationship with the outdoors and place? Assist us in unpacking others’ needs and dreams? Assist us. Assist us in exploring temporality within the routine regime? Assist us in making room for other human beings? Assist us in collaborating through arts? Assist us as we communicate with each other outdoors? Assist us in being ourselves in relation with our surroundings? Assist us. Assist us in being in the world without being the centre of the world? Assist us in feeling invited? Assist us in being together with those in the world who are different from us? Assist us in facing the ongoing challenge of dialogue? 130 Assist us. Why does fear stop us from being who we want to be? What do folk culture and carnival (Bakhtin, 1965) offer us in dealing with this fear? The folk and carnival culture may offer us access to unmasked spaces such as those offered in Windsor House through ongoing theatrical experiences. The arts may assist us in defining the absolutely necessity of boundaries (Bohm, 1985) within folk and carnival cultures. Encountering assistance in democratic education has been a learning encounter for me and has allowed my voice to be heard with new possibilities for a more democratic and open-ended experience in places of learning. Welcoming the whatever culture may enable people to ask the following: Who am I? Who do I want to be? What do I want to be responsible for? From Complicated Conversations to Dialogue I began this study informally, with many different conversations about the meaning of democratic education, history, philosophy, values, rules, roles, and dreams. It was an offering for participants and myself to connect, relate, encounter one another, as we opened ourselves to new possibilities in our communication and relationships. As discussed earlier in this thesis, dialogue does not happen without a shared desire to explore together ideas and feelings we are willing to rethink in new ways together. As Pinar (2011) offers, Let us follow Hongyu Wang (see 2004, 75) in her search for a third space through intercultural conversation, a space wherein new forms of life can be created. To participate in this complicated conversation, let us listen to the call from the stranger. (p. 121) Let us listen to what complicated conversations allow us to hear. This led me to explore the questions of when and how complicated conversations may turn into dialogue, and what does dialogue mean in the context of this open study? As the title of this dissertation claims, this study explored the process of creating meaning of democratic education through dialogic cooking. Meaning making happened with educators while cooking collaboratively in a democratic school. The first and second 131 gatherings were filled with cooking collaboratively within a set of prescribed recipes. Those two meetings metaphorically felt more like complicated conversations on their way to becoming dialogue. Participants were invited to take an active role in choosing what was going to be prepared, and were encouraged to make adaptations according to the personal and the collective wishes and needs. For instance, in the first gathering, which was Mediterranean food, we followed the choices of several participants who volunteered to take the lead for that gathering with my support. We made tabouleh, stuffed papers (vegetarian and with meat), tahini cookies, tomato soup with rice, and mejadra. This choice of cuisine was made collectively. At this gathering, there was no ready-made food, which made the collaborative cooking much more hectic for several participants. In many ways the first gathering felt as if it were a first date, since participants started cooking together without such previous experience as a group. Thus, questions surfaced, such as, how do you like to clean the parsley? How do you like to prepare your quinoa? Where can I find a measurement cup? Which knife I should use? It is important to first recognize the difference between the process of creating meaning and the meaning itself. The process, on one hand, includes the setting, the embodiment of the experience of cooking collaboratively, while holding complicated conversations and feasting together. In this process, participants shared their personal understanding of democratic education. In the beginning it was more about sharing, as opposed to creating meaning together in a dialogical manner. Later, the experiences participants brought forward became the ingredients for a dialogue of creating meaning. Thus, this study offered an exploration of known and common meanings as well as the creation of new meanings. I argue that the creation of a new meaning, created together, is dialogic in nature, or the beginning of dialogue. For instance, during the first gathering there were no set rules. I asked only one question: What intention did each of us have for our dialogical cooking? It was not yet dialogue, because there was a need to come together first, to share the questions and perspectives each of us brought to the table. Participants were confused and shared this feeling through questions, such as Meghan wondering, “[It is] something that we are not sure how to move forward with,” and Linda asking, “Do you mean maybe philosophically?” 132 These questions came as a result of not knowing what our time together would offer. I had hoped that this open-ended gathering might enable current meanings to arise as well as new meanings to be created. In our first gathering, we only knew the set curriculum, which included the Mediterranean recipes that participants had asked me to share with them. The curriculum was new to many and required more attention to detail and less to flow. The feast was beyond our expectations. At the same time, at the end of the gathering, several participants shared in the closing conversation that this gathering challenged them more than they had anticipated. They explained that the collaborative cooking required effort, which made it hard to follow the many conversations that were happening in parallel. Several participants expressed disappointment, as they had hoped the conversation would move directly into dialogue. I suggested that it is important to feel a bit lost in the beginning of a journey and reminded everyone that these conversations would fuel future work. In order to get a feel of those parallel conversations, I wish to share several anecdotes. For instance, Bronwen started one of the conversations during the first gathering: I did not come here for a democratic school but I believe that’s the way we live collectively. The challenge in our democratic collective is how do we meet the needs of everyone? And how do we hold it.… Hold the space to inspire them? I want to explore how our democratic collective is resilient so nobody falls through. Other participants shared their intentions as well. Participants also shared their personal interest in democratic education, such as Kristen and Andre. Meghan then stated: I am really connected right now, in my own practice. I am really curious now that I am personally moving from out of these crises—let’s stay alive— Oh, we are in alive mode! I really want to connect to the democratic worlds that both I grew up with and also have been evolving, not just what I grew up with but also what the rest of the world is doing now in democratic education. What they are doing in different countries, different cultures. Looking at the ways people are doing it so it is not just about us.… Similar models are being used … [they] change and evolve, because I think we are big enough—we are no longer the model I grew up with. We are not 25 to 60 students. It is 133 a much bigger thing. How do we retain this community and …[explore] my impact on you, your impact on me.… How do we stay connected in a different way? Others shared that while our first gathering did not feel as dialogic as they expected, they were consumed with the labour of food preparation. David felt we should put less time into the chopping so that in the gathering we would be able to engage more in the conversation. He suggested we pre-make whatever we could beforehand. I clarified that I think the collaborative cooking, and all the particular work it requires, the embodiment of it and even the aesthetic of the food creation, is actually important for our process to recognize our needs for creating space for dialogue to happen. David seemed doubtful, but he was open to giving it a chance in future gatherings. With that being said, participants also praised the doing and collaborating with colleagues. Kristen emphasized: I like the chopping. I like the work. You do not work any more beside people. We talk about collaborating, but we just talk about collaborating.… So I enjoyed doing that, and I got to interact with colleagues in a different way, so I think that having that balance between work and also focused conversation would be great. Listening to the mixture of voices in the room led me to voice an idea that came up organically from the first gathering experience. I offered this perspective at the beginning of the second gathering: It was hard for many of us in our last gathering to meet and have meaningful conversations about democratic education while collaboratively cooking. Creating meaning of democratic education with 20 participants is not an easy task. The idea I wish to suggest for today is that we put all our names in a hat and each round we pick only three people’s names. These people have a symbolic ‘talking stick’ while cooking with everyone in the room. The others, who are not the three picked names, continue cooking without reacting and chatting, but engaging in listening and reflecting. Do you want to give it a try? I suggested this process because I sensed the need to create both a space to converse as well as to hold space for the meditative meaning making while listening. I had not planned 134 this process ahead of time. We used this approach because it felt right in the moment, and all participants agreed to try. This exercise allowed the complicated conversations to unfold. Stories from past experiences connected to hopes and concerns with the new coming future. The three selected participants shared their expectations at the beginning of their turn. For instance, Bronwen asked people to ask her questions if they wished to, and Kelley felt questions would slow him down, so said it was better not to. The complicated conversation in the second, third, and forth gatherings benefitted from the changes agreed upon. In the first gathering the curriculum felt fixed and unknown. The second gathering offered a different experience. The curriculum was mainly based on the Mexican cuisine, which was simpler and known to many. This curriculum was determined by one teacher who volunteered to share her passion about Mexican food that arose for her from a home stay she had experienced earlier in her life in Mexico. Thus, participants felt they were able to find a balance between cooking collaboratively (the structured portion of the gathering) and dialoguing (the improvised parts of our collaborative session). The third and fourth gatherings unfolded in a more organic and dialogic way. I wrote the following after the second gathering: Kristen, with little help from Bronwen and Tina, created the curriculum for today based on her personal experiences living in Mexico. It is important to pay attention that in this meeting people joined in making the food right away, whereas in the previous meeting they did not. One noticeable reason for that to happen might be the much more known curriculum, so it left a space for free play with the curriculum, with personal adaptations, and less people treated it as set curriculum. It is important to mention that the recipes for the gatherings were offered as if they were the curriculum offered from the Ministry of Education. However it was an optional curriculum. Although I kept going around the room reminding participants that it is only a suggested curriculum and nothing is set or firm, participants only took the liberty to make changes in the second and subsequent gatherings. Participants managed this in different ways based on their personal experiences as educators at Windsor House. For instance, at the first gathering, Linda worked with Helen to make stuffed peppers; at one point in the 135 process they became worried when they noticed another team cutting peppers differently than what they understood was needed. As a side note, the other team worked on Matbucha, which was a different dish. As Linda explained during the feast of the first gathering: How about this? We tried, Helen and I right away, first thing, to set the curriculum. How we can get out, right? How come we do what we are supposed to do? We could not. Curriculum wins. You cannot get rid of it… We did not read the curriculum first. We tried to figure it ourselves and then… And then, they were so worried about the other team that Linda stopped the other team and asked them to check the directions in the recipe, that is, there curriculum for the gathering. Through this experience, Linda and Helen created an opportunity for participants to consider the meaning of a set curriculum versus emerged or improvised curriculum and the educator’s role in the context of democratic education. Corin and Meghan also spoke to this during the second gathering. Corin claimed, “Politically and philosophically many teachers in the public school I am working at feel similarly to teachers at Windsor House.” At the time of this research, Corin had been teaching in public schools, Windsor House, and in after-school programs for youth. Meghan added: Many students from Windsor House find that school is a good fit [when] moving to public school. They feel respected for who they are and what they bring.… Windsor House [offers a] different container for all different needs of children.” Corin continued: There are opportunities to explore agency, but the system itself is not democratic. Sometimes I get confused where I am at because I have one sibling at Templeton and one sibling at Windsor House—I wonder what is confusing and what is different in the teacher position, voice, opinion, in these two different locations? 136 This sense of agency that Corin brought up continued to be explored by others at different gatherings. The sense of agency in terms of the ability to initiate and make choices, based on students’ as well as educators’ needs and desires. For instance, at the last gathering, Holly shared that in her life she experienced adults as the ones who follow the rules and have a say in decision making. However, once she arrived to Windsor House, she encountered adults who do not have a say all the time and sometimes they are even second to younger community members. This sense of agency—the capacity of individuals to have control over actions, having the ability to make their own choices, and feeling their voices in the world are valuable—represents the core meaning of democratic education. The last few examples represent the difference between complicated conversations and dialogue. They conveyed a sense of sharing meaning while creating new meanings that may create disagreements and conflicts. Hence, it is important to be reminded that dialogue is an ongoing process of dealing with conflicting ideas and perspectives, encountering trust and mistrust, spending time together, becoming curious about the personal growth of others and yourself, and showing interest in exploring ideas and situations, as opposed to being solution driven. This dialogical study contextualized my personal experiences and understanding of dialogue. The story of Windsor House, which has been oriented toward the dialogical over its history, is different from the conflicted educational spaces I knew. This experience at Windsor House assisted me in rethinking the meaning of dialogue within democratic education. In the context I grew up in, dialogue is perceived as an ongoing negotiation between parallel realities, while claiming to communicate and converse. On the contrary, in this study, participants embodied the dialogue offered while cooking together. One’s voice had to encounter others and exist together and apart in the room (i.e., world). Through those encounters in the gatherings, participants managed to stay with the challenge of seeking dialogue. As Biesta (2012a) clarifies: A dialogue is an ongoing process and an ongoing challenge, also because the question whether justice is done to all parties involved poses itself again and again. The challenge … is to stay in [the] dialogue and to acknowledge that the difficulty of 137 staying in this place is an essential dimension of what it means to engage with and exist in the world. (p. 96) Staying engaged in the conversations while cooking together was difficult for several participants. However, persisting and staying with this difficulty invited us to engage with challenges in the world, and as Biesta (2012a) refers to it, that which allowed dialogue to begin. When assistance was needed, we sought to meet each participant’s needs. Assistance meant different things to different people. Some participants needed someone to wash vegetables and move them from one food station to another, thereby allowing everyone to continue the conversation. Others shared that they were truly not confident with cooking; they felt the need to follow the recipe, so it was hard for them to be engaged in the conversation. Implementing different ideas made the process more challenging work for almost everyone. The experience of feeling each other’s imperfection allowed the in-the-making feeling to be present. Different participants shared that staying present was an ongoing challenge of dialogue: teachers felt this regularly and felt Windsor House provided systematic support for this work. In practice, this systematic support meant that people created and nourished a safe space to share their vulnerability. To many, it takes ongoing trust. Thus, our collaborative cooking became a metaphor for the ongoing challenge of dialogue that Biesta (2012a) talks about. Although the study participants all worked together in the same school, during the entry interview many shared that they felt the absence of encountering each other, especially at metaphorical, philosophical, and pedagogical levels. This encounter started less personal than it ended. As the gatherings proceeded, an embodied trust among participants allowed wonders, pain, fear, and hope to feel welcome in the dialogical challenge. This study offered participants time to pause and to be with each other in a nurturing environment with an abundance of food, assistance, listening, and sharing. After cooking together and nurturing the bodies and minds of many, participants expressed experiencing a sense of gratitude. Meghan and Meron shared that they were thankful for this opportunity to be together in the middle of the pressures of teaching and learning. The next year’s move, without having a building for the school, added pressure to the regularly zealous and sometimes hectic pace of the school. At the same time, participants were open 138 to discuss ideas for how the move would feel and be solved. At our last gathering, Kelley brought up the idea that perhaps the staff could help to find solutions, knowing they may need to let the new circumstances teach us in a much more organic ways. As Kelley suggested, our first gathering was similar to having a set plan alongside the curriculum itself. As I presented it in the first gathering, “Let’s start and see where it takes us. Do you want to raise any intentions for us to follow about our dialogue in democratic education or of being democratic educators or not all the above?” Thus the path continued into the second gathering, with several conversations held around the notion of having many truths instead of a single truth. I noted the following: Several educators mention that many times couples separated after joining Windsor House. I suggested that it may be connected to the fact that you get so used to questioning so many truths in democratic education, that this may transfer to personal relationships. Many participants agreed around the table. At the last gathering, participants had several conversations that represented the co-existence of multiple truths. In a conversation with Meghan, Jason shared, “For me, the projects are the central idea. The idea is that we are going to do projects and on the side, there will do some math.” Meghan continued, “I have a different idea than you—neither is right or wrong right now, and mine was the mornings would be academic focus and in the afternoons would have multiple foci. I think either could work.” I once again affirmed that there is an ongoing exploration. Nothing is written in stone in the process. These examples may draw a simplistic sketch of the needed continuity during the process of participants’ ongoing intention to explore complicated conversations. As discussed and experienced in this study, dialogue requires time, patience, curiosity, and desire to not know the answer. As, in this study, dialogue asked us to be with a conflict, a question without trying to solve it right away, to ensuring the ball of ideas continues to roll for the sake of exploring what would come instead of remaining with fixed minds and solution. Being with it means listening to all the narratives and not following a set curriculum, a set of rules, or one truth. 139 This study with Windsor House educators enabled me to think critically and creatively and presented me with an opportunity to release a burden I have carried within me all my life. Palestinian and Israeli voices have occupied my heart and mind from an early age. This conflict impacted my ability to invite dialogical processes without fear. This fear led me to rethink the narrative I grew up with and the society I grew up in. I feared the task of creating an alternative school, society, or even reality. I feared being engaged in complicated conversations regarding the conflict, both inward and outward. However, studying and living democratic education for two decades revealed to me that taking the time to listen permits opportunities of solitude in which one may come to know otherwise. As Greene (as cited in Pinar, 2011) noted: This inner solitude cannot easily be conducted in public amidst the clamor of the crowd; Greene (2001, 60) emphasizes “taking time … moments of stillness … [in] coming to know.” This acknowledgment of the significance of solitude underlines the interiority of study, including its dialogical character, and not only with others. One engages oneself in complicated conversation as well as with others. (p. 99) Throughout the journey of conducting this study I learned that staff also need time apart from others. Ironically, it was the Windsor House environment, and the participants in the study in particular, who brought me to this understanding. Thus, in the time between gatherings, as well as during gatherings, participants held space for each other to be in an inner solitude, if possible, as well as, a space of encounter with one another. For instance, during the last gathering, in between small conversations, participants laughed while making food and shared their feelings regarding the work without a set curriculum. Helen offered, “If I cut carrots, is it going to be useful for somebody?” Helen’s offering was an example of reaching out without making the offering uncomfortable. Right after that Jason asked if instead of cutting he could grate the carrots for his cabbage salad. This lived experience offers the voice of letting go and allowing the present to unfold organically. It enabled us to avoid fixed mindsets and continue staying in the ongoing organic growth of dialogue. This inquiry invited us to look at a recipe as one option out of many. It called for listening and asked us to be there, not just pretending we were there. As in meditation 140 practices, this involves the need to unplug from distracting thoughts and being able to listen and reconnect. The unfolding dialogical process offered a different story than the sum of its parts. Dialogue does not offer truth or solutions. Instead of holding one truth, it supplied a back and forth with plural ideas, as if to say one should trust the process and keep the question of “what if” available. This way of being invites re-listening to stories, choices, and fears of past, present, and future. Thus, for all this to happen, humans need to encounter others by taking actions in the world which invite dialogue (Arendt, 1954). Interruption Wings Look for Adaptation Branches This theme arose in my a/r/tographic inquiry in the context of interruption and the importance of staying open. Several weeks ago, two picnic tables arrived to our co-op. I felt invited to contribute a painted tablecloth. Although I felt invited, their arrival felt like an interruption. To live or to leave, I wonder? Do I need to choose between these two? Am I ready? Am I ready to look forward? Am I ready to draw the lines I believe in? The desire to stay on task with my writing plan came into question. Do I stay with the set curriculum or keep my playful and hopeful spirit in my writing and join this dialogue with this interruption? The interruption arrived as a question - do I listen to my heart that asks for an aesthetic experience? As I wrote while engaging in the world artistically; Being here with a picnic table. The first person invites me to join the conversation. Coming with food, colors, attention, desire to connect, and hope to be assisted. Two eyes are looking at me from the far right corner of the table. Carrying a story of cutting branches. Remembering the desire to grow freely into the sky. Free to be themselves without fear. The eyes become two round spots on free wings of a butterfly. Free with open wings ready to find a branch to rest on. This a/r/tographic process continues to unfold. Starting with cooking, followed by the tablecloth, and continues with the picnic tables. The artistic process unfolds itself and reveals layers upon layers of discoveries. What is next? As the picnic tables arrived and interrupted my writings, I realized how important it was to be interrupted. Being 141 interrupted wakes us to our senses. Awaking to the important question of if not now, when? As I experience with the ‘If Not Now’ movement, the interruption comes as a gift. These activists from If Not Now play and offer ways to be back into our hearts through non-violence interruptions. Armed with non-violence communication skills, If Not Now activists arrive to organized events that show a one-sided view of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and interrupt the flow by offering a different story, a different voice, and a hopeful reality. As stated on the If Not Now (n.d.) website: Will we choose a Judaism that supports freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians, or will we let the leadership of the establishment define our tradition as incompatible with our values? Will we continue down the path of isolation and fear that’s destroying the lives of millions of Palestinians and alienating a generation of young Jews? Or, will we create a vibrant Judaism that emerges from the trauma of our past to bring our tradition to life in the present? We have chosen. We are building a Jewish community that recognizes we cannot be free absent of the freedom of Palestinians. Like those born wandering in the desert, we are rising from our people’s trauma in order to move us toward the ongoing promise of liberation. We will be the generation to transform our community’s support for the occupation into a call for freedom and dignity for all. (If Not Now, When? section, para. 1–4) Connecting with what is good. Coming from a place that embraces the desire for freedom and dignity for all; doing so by interrupting reality in different ways. Good for all humans. Connecting with one another from a more hopeful place. Through the process of writing, it is important for me to write from a hopeful place. Dialoguing through the making and being. However, it gets harder while being isolated in the process of writing. The need for others leads to action. As Arendt (1958) explains: Action … is never possible in isolation; to be isolated is to be deprived of the capacity to act … action and speech are surrounded by and in constant contact with the web of the acts and words of other men. (p. 188) 142 Years of wishing to learn from everyone about this conflict, stories, and fears while forgetting, at times, to listen to my own voice, vision, and hope in it, came to an end. Years of occupation came to an end and offered a new beginning. As Arendt (1958) states: Because the actor always moves among and in relation to other acting beings, he is never merely a "doer" but always and at the same time a sufferer. To do and to suffer are like opposite sides of the same coin, and the story that an act starts is composed of its consequent deeds and sufferings. These consequences are boundless, because action, though it may proceed from nowhere, so to speak, acts into a medium where every reaction becomes a chain reaction and where every process is the cause of new processes. (p. 190) Understanding the importance of both sides of the coin, I wish to find balance between the doer and the sufferer in me. As with dialogue, finding the balance between listening, conversing, and wondering, is an important aspect in the dialogic play. Consent Culture and Dialogical Skill Set In a broader conversation of democratic education the terms “reflect back,” “needs met,” and “being with,” commonly appear as integral components of the consent culture. These terms reflect what many democratic schools hold without labelling its school culture as democratic or dialogic. It is a consent culture that enacts itself through the experience of being together as a community. An environment in which others do not claim to know how one feels at any moment. In practice, the consent culture requires ongoing checking in, avoiding predetermined assumptions, and asking for permission. This culture has been criticized throughout the years as being too focused on individual needs and for being child centred (Dewey, 1938; Rogers, 1969), with the community members not valuing the curriculum as it is. Bronwyn, who prefers not to be called a teacher, clarifies: Our intention is to hold everyone in this community … I notice students … trying to figure out what are the needs they have, and then often times there are other students who also have those needs, and when it is a need that they recognize and collectively shared, then they have a reason to join.… Then they get to come against what is in the 143 way for them.… Sometimes what is in the way for them is there was no space for them to see or recognize they have needs that are not getting met.… I feel sometimes that it is our job, to help them find out what those are.… I am willing to sit with someone in their experience and fully explore what it is that they are currently experiencing and observe it and articulate it in different ways, and they get to reflect back to me whether I am wrong, and I will continue to explore it with them and reflect back. Bronwyn’s comment emphasized that working with students is not only about meeting their needs, it is also about what they are willing to bring to and share in school. Each educator, mentor, staff member, facilitator, or teacher at Windsor House offers her or his own skill set in a self-directed learning environment and community. At Windsor House, there are no defined roles for staff members to take on. Students and staff expect students to self-direct their experiences. Democratic education embraces the consent culture as an ontological departure point, which invites a dialogical dance. As noted earlier in this chapter, Meghan shared that it is challenging for her, as the administrator, to encourage staff to define their own roles. There are people who see the big picture, and there are those who do whatever needs to be done. It is an ongoing conversation about roles and responsibilities. That’s where accountability comes in. In considering what people want to do and what needs to be done, how can we co-share the load? Following that, Meghan mentioned that she is interested in hearing from Corin (a teacher), as one who teaches in different educational settings: What makes Windsor house what it is for her? Corin replied: Here, at Windsor House, I feel full sense of autonomy as a teacher. You can choose what you want to be. I have been on those planning days (that’s how other schools call it) before, and what you do on planning days, you get the roster of who is enrolled in your class, and that’s what you have for the rest of the year based on which students are in your class. Here, on my very first day at Windsor House, which was a retreat, Meghan did a round and checked with people what do you want to do this year? And what do you want to do this year? And what are you interested in doing? At that moment I was worried that what if nobody would want to teach the teens?… Here, at 144 Windsor House, you get an autonomy plus structural freedom and fluidity that is very different from a mainstream school. There is no sense of authority throughout this process of checking in with others and respecting where you are now and what you need. This may lead to ownership, responsibility, and sense of agency. As Holly shared in the her first interview, which was the second group interview: I started here as a family member 3 years ago.… We had a hard time in public school, and we happened to stumble upon Windsor House. And I do not know what to say to everyone in my life about this big move. I feel I have grown so much here, to the greatest level in my life.… [I have an] awareness for the moment and of myself. I was forced to look at myself. It was a Buddhist experience for me, to help of everybody here to go through it. I feel the collaboration, the support of this community. I did not have a community, and I found it here. This personal growth that Holly experiences is one side of the same story that Corin shared about the autonomy of the teacher role, and sense of agency as a staff member at Windsor House. Those are not only the adult privileges. The choices of what to do, where to be, and who to be are available for students as well. After the move it may be even more vivid since people will not be able to be in all sites on the same day. Thus the choice will be more active then than in the past and may take the parent participation component of democratic education to a new level. As Meghan explained at the last gathering: People will need to check with their friends what they are doing in order to make choices that work for them. How can we co-create something that works for us?… What resources you can bring to the table? What do you know about your kid? What kids would she or her like to be with? Where would she or her go? The human need to take action in the world invites and encourages dialogue that enables the desire for the dialogic encounter, while one needs to encounter others (Arendt, 1954). It is the relational corresponding between the subjective and the social reconstruction that brings the curriculum to life. As Pinar (2011) claims: 145 Subjective and social reconstruction are coextensive and reciprocally related. When they occur in school, it is through the dialogical encounter that is the complicated conversation that is the lived experience of curriculum. (p. 139) It is important to add that while this study aims to explore democratic education, there are also voices among the participants who do not think the school is democratic. As Helen and I shared during the second gathering: [A] sense of agency is different from agency. I think that Windsor House is not democratic at all—it is whatever it serves at any given time … democracy as a sense of agency. We allow young people to do things that are very brave in our society that does not trust young people to make decisions about their own lives. And it has very little to do with voting. It has to do with our personal attitude.… Well, some form of voting.… We are under that heading just because it is better than anything else to get the sense of what we are doing here. But, in actuality, people on the outside think there is a school council and they vote on rules. (Helen) It is interesting because, for me, when I think about the term of democratic education, I do not think so much about the structure of voting. I think about democracy. It is not about a final product. It is all the time evolving. There is all the time and space for different voices, for plurality, pushing boundaries, upholding the rights of everyone. (Ofira) We make a mistake around the idea of democracy, and one of them is perhaps me having certain teaching style, or, for me personally, I do not care if someone is outside of a classroom. The thing that’s important for me is that young people do not feel they need to go, or, if they do not the like the way a teacher speaks to them,… they can step out without being worried about the consequences—[it requires] parent participation [and] giving kids agency. (Helen) The meaning of this education connects directly to the decision that all participants were part of the feasts during the gatherings. The reality made participants adapt the curriculum to whatever was needed, that is, the recipe. As Meron realized in the first gathering, and 146 then others agreed, collaboratively cooking is similar to the work of a democratic school. For instance, David came to me to share that he was making the Tabouleh with quinoa so that most people could eat it. Adaptation, as in David’s example, freed many stuck moments in the making and collaborating. Reminding Us to Be Our Own Guest Within Hospitality There are numerous ways to cook, listen, be with, share opinions, participate, teach, be engaged, converse, and simply be. The last gathering was a lived experience of such environment. As I wrote: The food and the table are ready, with only last small tasks to be completed. This meeting holds the feel of ‘there is no right way.’ People are doing what they feel like, as they make the dish they invent or simply make a dish they know. Talking, listening, and helping around. The eating starts and small conversations about daily issues come up. Meghan asks, “Are we waiting for people to start eating?” Helen and Jason replied together while eating themselves, “No.” Several of us burst out laughing. There is one participant, Holly, who is waiting to start only when everyone is seated. This simple but telling example of when to start eating reflects the way of being a member of the Windsor House community. While staff members operate daily in parallel realities, being aware of each student’s needs and stories invites and assists in non-binary thinking. As Biesta (2013b) says: A teacher’s job is like playing simulative chess with different students’ complexity of theory in a three-layer chess game. It is important to set the target for each student but also know to let go at times. Engagement and emancipation. (42:35) It is important to pay attention to the act of ‘letting go at times’ in the context of Windsor House. In many educational settings, teachers’ responsibilities are to keep students on task and ensure the curriculum is delivered; Freire (1970) refers to this as the banking concept of education. 147 Hence, the banking concept is anti-dialogical, with teachers serving in many ways as the oppressors, and students, as the oppressed—those who lack opportunities to think critically and independently, be creative, and question. In anti-dialogic environments, the oppressors, that is the teachers, suffer from a lack of listening, communicating, respecting, and humility toward their students. In contrast, at Windsor House, staff are encouraged to hold the space for whatever is needed, as sometimes the important work of doing is to let go. As I shared on the third gathering: When I saw that nobody had replied [to my emails regarding the curriculum of our third gathering], I thought there was something going on that I was not aware of, and then David explained to me in a short email what was going on, and I thought, “OK, that’s a good sign.… The group sent me the vibe that something was happening, that they were not just ignoring” [I do remember that it was a trust test for me with the group]. In different cases and experiences in my life, I could easily think, “Oh, they do not care.” This time it was not the case. It did not carry those feelings. [I decided to let go]. It felt like being disconnected. I was travelling, so I was not close to hear and feel what the community went through while I was gone with the big move [as the school was relocating at the end of June]. I was away for a month. I even wrote to my advisor and asked her for her advice regarding this situation. I suggested I would bring a readymade food for this time, so it could offer us a different experience in our monthly gathering—something to compare with other meetings [where we cooked everything]. This experience of letting go with the curriculum planning, that is, our cooking in our third gathering, offered the group an opportunity to be with each other, just as the staff members offer students at Windsor House. This was an opportunity to dwell in whatever comes from being together, talking, listening, and eating together, to let go of a set agenda and allow ourselves to dialogue and collaborate without a big task or a topic. Letting go while paying attention to needs is quite purposeful; because of this, eating together was what we needed. It is important to be reminded that the lived experience of letting go can be challenging at times. As Tina shared on the third gathering: 148 I want to address the secret garden group… I was getting so professional in my role as a life coach; I am trying to fit them into this box, every time I met them in that lab, and then someone suggested we go outside, and I said, “Great, let’s go outside!” I know it is a bit chaotic, but it is better. And then, you know, someone suggests we cook together, so we cook together. So I start to drop my agenda with them, and we found each other. But it is taking weeks. Dropping the agenda and letting ourselves be with each other creates an atmosphere of hospitality, that is, coming with an open heart and mind to the other, our guest, and to oneself. This atmosphere invites listening that creates a democratic setting for dialogue to happen. These democratic characteristics of Windsor House are beyond curriculum transmission or democratic structure. They offer a safe place of hospitality, while simultaneously embracing democratic principles, engagement, and practices. Moreover, the Windsor House community has committed to dialogue, challenging conversations, and critical encounters. As I reflected after the second gathering, I begin to understand that the role of school is dialogic with many more personal and emotional goals, which leads to a really different dialogical discussion, since all sides do not try to direct the other away from listening and curiosity. On the contrary, it is about creating space to what would happen in the interaction, while encountering each other … for several participants, listening to what’s needed and adapting is more important than being a democratic school. The term democratic is too defined for many. Although listening and adapting are about engaging democratically with one’s community, it seems that the issue is not whether one is acting in democratic ways, but rather that the term democratic it is not well defined. At Windsor House, the term democratic is perceived by many as a structured way of acting, with rules and procedures, and as a different term from hospitality, that is, the whatever culture, I want to suggest that hospitality exists within the democratic atmosphere and is an essential part of being democratic. By claiming that, I suggest that there are many less visible and known guidelines that create democratic environment such as plurality and sense of agency in addition to visible and practical 149 aspects such as school council and justice committee of a democratic school. As Helen shared on the second gathering, I do not think Windsor House is democratic at all. I think that Windsor House is whatever serves it at any given time. So, democracy in a sense of voting, which is different from what Corin is saying, which is sense of agency. I think that the best we offer here is sense of agency. And we allow young people to do things that are very brave in our society of not trusting young people for them/for us to trust them to make decisions about their own lives. This safe space of hospitality, which offers a sense of agency, does not seem to offer enough security for several educators who wish to uphold the democratic mechanism of the school. Especially at that point in time, when the school community faced a big move to a multi-campus model after losing its building. It is interesting to pay attention to the concerns participants brought up on the third gathering regarding the fear of losing the democratic culture of the school with the big move. As Andre shared on the third gathering: The trouble I think we are talking about next year is that for me it does not mean democratic education.… For democratic education you need community.… What terrifies me about next year is … if we are all in different places, each one of us has to hold the entire democracy inside ourselves because it is not a community doing democracy anymore, it is a single person responsible for JC [Justice Committee] and school council.… It all becomes individualized, and it is not a democracy anymore.… I remember, I think in my first year at Windsor House, Meghan described Windsor House as a community of people who bump up against each other and figure it out. The staff members agreed that constant interactions among people within the school community are important for all. It was the term democratic education that reflected difference. At Windsor House, this term embraces secure feelings for many, others wish to undo the democratic structure and bring forward new meanings as well as new practices and initiatives. First, it is important to briefly explain the distinction between direct democracy and representative democracy before sharing Helen’s (a participant and the founder of Windsor House) take on it. Direct democracy offers equal part in decision 150 making, which includes and respects minorities. While representative democracy offers elected representatives who handle decision making on behalf of the voters. As Helen and I discussed in personal conversation later on April 2019, In the very literal sense of the word, “democracy" means electing people to represent you, or, in the case of early Greece, the male landowners each having a vote on how the city is run. However, in modern parlance, it has taken on sort of a catchall phrase to mean people have some power. So, if you consider voting for one person to represent you completely in some organization, you probably are misled.… Democracy [has] a very broad definition. But at Windsor house, we don’t elect people to speak for us; … every single person gets a vote at a school meeting. But unfortunately, we are quite limited as to what we can allow to children to vote on. So we can’t let them vote on safety matters or drug matters or gun use matters or … and the list goes on. And it is perfectly reasonable and sensible. So we try to give the children a voice so that they can tell us what they think … Windsor House tries to be democratic in the sense of in the broader sense, of giving people a voice. So, we just use the word democracy as a byword. … Some schools try and teach democracy by having representatives who are elected and then who do certain jobs and so on. We don’t do any of that kind of thing. What we do… the part of democracy that we are interested in, [which] is the part where people feel heard and are active in setting as many rules as possible, … so when I say that we don’t do democracy at Windsor House what I mean is that we don’t do that end of democracy, that setting up of representatives and people … which quite often turns into a popularity contest … that’s why I am not thrilled about the word “democracy.” I'd like a better word. (Helen) In the third gathering, educators raised the concern regarding the existence of democratic structure of the school several times. As Andre shared in his first interview in this study, he is interested investigating democratic education and advocating for democratic education. He shared in the third gathering his worries about not being able to keep the democratic structures of the school in the new setting (i.e., the multi-campus setting). He explained that for him it works in the current setting thanks to the fact that the school functions in one main location, where everyone is a part of it. The conversation 151 rolled from Andre to Helen, who shared her understanding along the years, which kept unfolding and expanding. Helen has come to believe that it does not matter how much she planned ideas differently each year, it always becomes a new story once she encounters the students simply because they keep changing and adaptations are needed on the go. Later, Heather joined the conversation with historical anecdote about the Justice Committee in Windsor House. As she shared: I remember the time that we did … we used to rotate who were doing the JC [Justice Committee]. We did JC where everybody took a day. Oh, we had the kids do it. Yeah, they had a duty, we had a list and we had to go through a whole roster. And then, we ended up bringing food (laugh), because it actually brought them and they were willing to cooperate. Heather’s anecdote led the conversation to questioning the democratic structure and institutions of school in relation to the school environment that to do much more with the people and the culture of this place. As Kristen added, Sometimes I get worried about [how] the “the institution or system controls us.” I hope you guys do not mind, but I do not like the bashing of the mainstream school all the time because sometimes I see so many beautiful things there and really, I believe in what I was doing there. I think I could do wonderful things next year, because I do not think the institution controls me, and I do not think that it takes what happens in the classroom. It is definitely sets parameters and it is does not allow creative thoughts … there are limits, for sure. But, it does not mean that it does not dictate what should happen. Yeah, I guess it comes down to people. When I am talking about Windsor House, I am not always talking about institutional democratic education, like you said [directs it to Andre]. It does not interest me much. The same thing with governments all around the world … you see? You have a democracy, and how does [that] democracy make it healthy, you know? The same way here, we are strengthened by many institutions that set priorities and values. And, I never saw so much grace to each other, to students, to staff, and loveness. That kind of acceptance and listening, and it is beautiful. It does not happen in schools 152 at the time, but it has more to do with people and less to do with democratic institutions. Jason and Tina agreed with Kristen and the conversation continued with Meron, as she clarified: I think it is about the people, and it is the culture that allows us to be that way. I learnt from the culture of this place to be in a way that works with this place … ‘cause it is certainly transformed my way of being … there is that aspect of that – I do not think we all brought it with us here. The move Andre refers to happened right after the study ended onsite. The move was required because the school building was in the process of being demolished. It was not the first time that Windsor House community lost its building. Thus, many community members held this space of fear and worries and managed to continue the search of alternatives. The following school year arrived and there was no school building. However, the community decided to try the multi-campus idea, which meant different locations for groups of students. The locations have been represented in an online space and students can sign up for the various spaces on a weekly schedule. There are a few pick-up and drop-off locations for school transportation along with the support of community members carpooling. For instance, the locations include a maker space, a farm, a theatre, a permanent home base for younger students, the forest, the beach, public libraries, and outdoor and indoor field trips. As expected, this move set challenges for the school in a variety of aspects such as its capacity to operate all locations as multi-aged spaces. Thus, there has been a big struggle to get all ages together in one place, as Windsor House had in the old building where everyone knows everyone and allowed for friendships to span large age range. Although all spaces in the multi-campus setting could technically be considered multi-age, in reality only a few are, such as the Revue Stage (i.e., the theatre) and the farm spaces. Thus, community field trips and theatre productions and special events have become an important aspect of keeping the community feel of Windsor House. As Ellen (personal communication, February 02, 2019) mentioned, “It's a big lament in the community. A tear in the fabric of the community of the school.” At the same time, the multi- 153 campus setting also turned out to be an opportunity to explore new ways of being for staff, students, and the community as whole. In the new setting, there are experiences and perspectives and aspects to relationship and community that became available and enriched community members’ perceptions of what people can accomplish within community. 154 Chapter 6: Radical Hospitality is the Host Figure 7. Radial Hospitality. Photo by Ofira Roll. “Hospitality is culture itself and not simply one ethic amongst others. Insofar as it has to do with the ethos, that is, the residence, one’s home, the familiar place of dwelling, inasmuch as it is a manner of being there, the manner in which we relate to ourselves and to others, to others as our own or as foreigners, ethics is hospitality; ethics is so thoroughly coextensive with the experience of hospitality.” (Derrida, 2000, pp. 16–17) 155 It might feel that I post non-stop about the same topic for the last two weeks. In case you join my wall only today, I want you to know that right now, in Israel, something big has happened. Citizens are making connections between the government actions and the Holocaust narratives.… I feel it is a wakeup call for all of us. These refugees from Africa hopefully will not be deported thanks to many responsible citizens. It is beyond many non-democratic laws that passed lately in Israel. It is much more down-to-earth human ethics. It is about the notion of Radical Hospitality, as Derrida wrote about many years ago, as a Jewish refugee from Tunisia, in France. Today, when the news is full of announcements of different groups who stand together and say, “Not in our names!” I refer to El Al pilots – who declared they are not going to fly the asylum seekers to Africa; I refer to the letter of hundreds cinema people to Bibi about their refusal to support this shameful action; I refer to Rabi Suzanne Silverman, of the Jerusalem Voice of the Soul community, who announced yesterday a new initiative called "a hiding place for refugees in Anne Frank's house." Last, but not least, I refer to Colette Avital, as the Head of the Center for Holocaust Survivors, who declared a few hours ago that Holocaust survivors oppose this expulsion. I feel this historical moment may be a turning point. Not a stable one. Not with enough strong foundations. But a turning point towards an opening. An opening of our hearts to the other. The other who is not a Jew in Israel. The one who deserves democratic treatment as anyone else on this planet. I can see the bridge to wake our hearts to Palestinians. These people who were forgotten under the busyness of the news, of life. Time will tell. Tikun Olam happens in small steps. If we succeed with the Asylum seekers, we are one step ahead … amen! At the time, writing this personal note at the end of January 2018 gave me a sense of a closure. I came to understand that democracy becomes robust while embracing interruptions and inviting radical hospitality into our daily life experiences by welcoming the other into our homes while keeping ourselves invited. As Derrida (2000) states in the opening quote of this chapter, “The manner in which we relate to ourselves and to others, to others as our own or as foreigners” (pp. 16–17). This allows us to be out of our comfort zone by not knowing what is next while inviting the awe to our day-to-day living with open 156 door. As I shared on the Israel, Canada and Me in the Age of Trump (Jewish Voices, 2017) panel, which I mentioned earlier in this thesis, I grew up in a big tribe. I grew up in a big family with a big grandma that really makes everyone eat good … and hospitality is something that is ingrained in me. Hospitality, for me, is not just feeding you. Hospitality, for me, is to look at your eyes and really care about what you feel right now … For me, hospitality is to understand that you may have a different voice from me … You may … not find my voice legitimate, but that’s who we are … I do believe that we are not strangers anywhere; I never make myself stranger anywhere. I feel at home, because I was sent to this universe to do something … I am travelling on this globe as one ball that’s turning around and pretending that it is a serious business but after all, we are just humans. (54:19) In doing so, we are asked to set aside power dynamics as if we can set them aside. The notion of power dynamics I refer to here is that no matter who may arrive and no matter their perceived authority or not, all may interact with each other equally. This realization connects back to my grandmother, Memeh, who used to keep her home door literally open when she was home and awake. This was especially true over the last few years, when her health was not good and she spent most of her days sitting in her big cozy sofa chair, receiving expected and unexpected guests. Memeh’s days were filled with artistic creations, usually from unwanted reusable materials that allowed her to be in a meditative meaning making, as discussed earlier. In doing so she was in the creating and giving position and stayed open for interruptions that assisted her in practicing radical hospitality. All guests were welcome to join the creations, conversations, and usually a Teh with Memeh. It was only several weeks after Memeh left the physical world when I as well 157 as others encountered a closed locked door in her home. It was an awakening experience in which we encountered our fears of what comes next after her. For me, this experience translates into democratic education in terms of ongoing willingness, that is, the open door, to be engaged in complicated conversations that may lead to dialogue. As such, in democratic education the door remains open for whatever, whenever, and whoever arrives. There is an ongoing search of uniqueness by honouring the individual journey. However, as Biesta (2015b) suggests, it is important to pay attention to how quickly the notion of uniqueness may become an emphasizing process of our differences, inadvertently isolating people from one another. Another question that may be asked in respect to finding or empowering uniqueness is, when does it matter that I am I? This refers to the irreplaceable uniqueness of the individual (Biesta, 2015b). Irreplaceability is beyond specific characteristics; it is more about the situation that one is called to accept or be present in. It is about the way one uses her/his/their own uniqueness. The call arrives for a specific being, and nobody else could be sent instead. As noted in the first chapter, I experienced a moment of being irreplaceable with Memeh in the hospital. The image at the beginning of this chapter marks for me a radical hospitality to the core. The two hands are my grandmother, Memeh, and me; this picture was taken when I first visited her in the hospital during her last few weeks alive. This moment of my Memeh and me encapsulates this entire concept for me. As Biesta (2015b) explains, when a friend is dying and he asks if he could see you, he does not mean someone but you, which is when it matters that I am I. We realize the moment of uniqueness in the moment we enter into interaction and dialogue. For me, it was Memeh’s last three days alive when I understood fully what Biesta (2015b) refers to in terms of irreplaceable. It was when I was called to be the one who accompanied visitors to visit with her before they said their last goodbye. It was when I was asked to lead her funeral: an irreplaceable feeling. Dear Memeh, throughout my life with you, as my grandmother, mentor, and chief, you prepared me for this ending, of being with you in peace, without fear. For me, hosting you radically up to your last breath 158 has been a gift I will never forget. This experience added a new layer in my understanding of your wisdom. Your call in raising us within a sphere of radical hospitality allowed me to be prepared, although the lesson I had to feel and experience in relation to radical hospitality arrived only when you left. You left just before my graduation, as if to give our entire tribe a last needed lesson. As you raised us, we love and invite others for the feast of life when possible. Host them radically until they are ready to leave. Keep them welcome and know to let go when needed. Look into the eyes, into our souls, beyond the physical world. Stay curious and open in relation. We are all connected. Writing this personal note at the beginning of January 2019 brought to my attention the wider, though practical, understanding of dialogue and radical hospitality in democratic education. The power dynamic in democratic education is similar to how Memeh chose to live her life and aligned with Derrida’s (2000) explanation of radical hospitality: “Enter quickly,” quickly, in other words, without delay and without waiting. Desire is waiting for what does not wait. The guest must make haste. Desire measures time since its abolition in the stranger’s entering movement: the stranger, here the awaited guest, is not only someone to whom you say “come,” but “enter,” enter without waiting, make a pause in our home without waiting, hurry up and come in, “come inside,” “come within me,” not only toward me, but within me: occupy me, take place in me, which means, by the same token, also take my place, don’t content yourself with coming to meet me or “into my home.” (p. 123) Derrida (2000) invites the stranger to interrupt, to awaken the desire within to remain alive, to engage and encounter in the world with the world without hesitation. By doing so one accepts the gift of being in the moment with whatever comes. Therefore, being engaged in the world allows the other to exist in the whatever culture in the most inclusive fashion. 159 This can be translated to a lived experience through the following note, which I took during my visit in Israel, May 2018: While driving in the region I grew up in, that is, the Galilee (in the north of Israel), I experienced first hand Derrida’s (2000) notion of inviting the stranger to interrupt. On a sunny hot dry day, on my way to visit my grandmother, Memeh, I stopped on the side of the road to make a phone call, and I noticed a woman at the bus stop, next to my car. She was wearing a dress that covered her whole body and a hijab. She was holding a newborn baby in a warm new white blanket. I opened the front right window and asked her where does she need to go. She replied, “To the shook (market) in Acre.” “Ta-ali” (come, in Arabic) I answered, and opened the car door for her. Our shared time in the car, driving her to the shook felt different. We both knew little of one another’s mother tongues and could hardly communicate. The tension in the car carried an additional flavour besides that of ‘stranger.’ I allowed the stranger to interrupt, to awaken the desire within to remain alive. With broken languages, we managed to understand that we were born at a similar time. We were both not fully understood. Radical Hospitality Then and Now The way I conceived of the notion of hospitality—and especially radical hospitality—has evolved throughout this study. Paying attention to my personal development, I find it striking to observe the personal and the collective inquiry that took place. When I first arrived at Windsor House I held the notion of hospitality in its literal sense, hospitality as a way to be welcoming. It was only later that I came to understand that it could present itself in a less conspicuous fashion. As I wrote in November 2017: If I have learned anything from my experiences within the Democratic education Movement, it is to be a radical host from within. Radical hospitality can be perceived in its literal sense as a long table, covered with food, waiting with an open door, for just you and me. However, in the lesson I have been experiencing with the democratic school, radical hospitality holds a larger hidden space than the obvious, known, and 160 visible one. Experiencing radical hospitality means to feel welcome by all means—welcome to be whoever and whatever you feel like or need to be without the fear of conditions or punishments. It is being loved, respected, and wanted at any moment—you are who you are.… This means an individual can find a safe space to deal with not being perfect; to be loved when attacked by others; to be respected while your … feelings and behaviours become known in public; to be heard deeply when you disrespect others for unseen reasons; to be celebrated for the gifts you have to share, and sometimes would love not to share; to know it is okay to withdraw from the world for a time and then come back; to be loved for who you are without fears and conditions. This is my own voice. I wrote it recently, long after our gatherings, while reflecting on and writing about how I use to perceive hospitality and what I have been encountering regarding the notion of hospitality at Windsor House. I have come to understand that hospitality, and to be more accurate, radical hospitality, is the comprehensive theme of this thesis and this school. Although it may be perceived differently at different points in the thesis, the notion of radical hospitality has been there all the time, waiting to be seen and named. Radical hospitality is not named at Windsor House, just as Derrida (2000) talks about welcoming the stranger without asking him for his name, as if naming it would harm its existence. In retrospect, I realize that all of this thesis can be claimed to be radical hospitality, as that is the democratic way. One view of democracy is the practice of acceptance, which is encountering plurality within the democratic structured boundaries (Arendt, 1958). Thus, radical hospitality needs the assistance of a democratic setting. One important question to ask in relation to a democratic way is, who actually benefits from the reduction of the complexity of the democratic way into a topic in the social studies classroom, as is seen in the majority of education? By asking this question I mean to highlight that moving away from hands-on experience of direct democracy to studying the subject through reading, writing, and discussions lends itself to a surface exploration of the subject, depriving students of the opportunity to develop a deep understanding of what democracy could be. Thus, moving democratic concepts away from its state of becoming into a subject in school with a clear beginning and ending may miss 161 the heart and substance of the matter. This is especially important in the context of exploring the notion of radical hospitality because democratic environments, which are constantly shifting and remaking themselves, are needed to support radical hospitality. Thus, while coming to create changes in the context of democratic practices, it is tempting for curriculum experts to focus on curriculum adaptation. From my perspective, it is more important to question who is actually benefitting from this reduction of lived democracy within the curriculum. By using the phrase reduction of lived democracy, I mean that at Windsor House the democratic way is a lived experience, while in many other educational settings it is merely a subject of study, which reduces the deep experiential learning to an abstract concept. At Windsor House, democracy and dialogue are not merely learned, these subjects are lived. The curriculum, which is designed and delivered by government employees according to the desired social order, is influenced by the beliefs and values of few. However, in the systems of mainstream education, as well as in alternative education, such as democratic education, there are individuals and teams within schools who may choose differently. Their choice to allow the democratic way as a lived experience, not as an independent topic in social studies, allows the democratic way to become a lived curriculum and enables the whatever culture to flourish in a broader sense. This refers back to the whatever culture that I mentioned earlier in this thesis in the context of Windsor House, in which people are able to be in the world without being worried or bothered by others’ ideas, fears, values, and judgments. In democratic education, the whatever culture invites individuals to share their voices, ideas, and choices as welcomed guests in a radical hospitality environment while encountering others. Although this concept, the whatever culture, may feel like a reference to a dismissive orientation or a laissez faire view (i.e. nothing really matters here), I wish to emphasize that it is about a culture that is welcome to whatever and whomever shows up. Thus, radical hospitality simultaneously embraces democratic principles, engagement, and practices while committing to dialogue, complicated conversations, and creative encounters. Radical hospitality is about embracing difference, and perhaps conflict, and 162 anticipating that there will be tension. The intent is to create a safe space for everyone to bring and be whatever is real in any given moment. In order to embrace all of the aspects I mentioned above within the notion of radical hospitality, it is important to begin again and clarify those unseen links that bring them all under the radical hospitality umbrella with the hope that by the end of this chapter it will all rest within radical hospitality as an overall comprehensive theme that all other themes lead into. I am aware that this is an ambitious chapter about huge themes—dialogue, democratic education, and artistic social engaged collaboration—that include many subthemes. However, this overarching understanding of radical hospitality is necessary in establishing the connection back to democracy. At this time in the world, while radical hospitality calls into question massive currents against the other/the foreign/the refugee, I tend to pay attention to local stories, like that of Windsor House, stories that put big democratic ideas and intentions into the practice of lived experience of daily life that create an alternative reality full of hope. Radical hospitality, like hope, is something in the making—it is neither static nor achieved. As Adams and Owens (2016) mention in the beginning of their book: Change is determined by agency on the ground; although it seems as if we are in an ocean pulled by currents of such depth and strength that it exceeds our imagination, it is also true that these changes are composed of a myriad of micro events, and the ways we create things, the ways that we collaborate, in turn constitute the larger movement: we may not be able to resist the current, but we can swim in imaginative ways, we can keep each other afloat, and in doing so we contribute to the greater social project and become an integral part of the long revolution. (p. 2) Thinking through this ongoing, long, revolutionary lens that Adams and Owens (2016) refer to, the small steps toward more democracy in education may receive new meanings. To clarify those unseen links between the themes, I must start with the title of the third chapter of this thesis, “I Am Here With You.” This title is the beginning of being with, living togetherness, and practising deep listening—all of which are mentioned earlier in this thesis as remarkable steps towards complicated conversations that may turn lead to 163 dialogue. Throughout Chapter 3, I presented several themes, such as the “Individual, Collective, and Democracy”; “Being With, Listening, and Assisting”; “From Complicated Conversations to Dialogue”; “Interruption Wings Look for Adaptation Branches”; “Consent Culture and Dialogical Skill Set”; and “Reminding Us to Be Our Own Guest Within Hospitality.” Those themes are better seen and perceived not as separated entities but more as interconnected pathways in the same community. In each of them, the notion of democracy with choices, conflicts, adaptations, interruptions, and encounters arise. In this context, the awareness of the roles and needs of the individual and the collective within the school community creates the environment that may enable dialogue. For all this to happen, the artistic socially engaged collaboration must come to assist, interrupt, and ask for an ongoing adaptation and improvisation in order to explore possibilities, meet limits and limitations, and establish forms that enable dialogue. While we exist together, the whatever culture and radical hospitality offer possibilities for dialogue to happen. Radical Hospitality in the Eyes of Democracy As Derrida (2000) suggests and democracy offers (as discussed in this thesis), there is a parallel between hospitality and the openness for interruptions, that is, the interruption of the self. The interruption calls us in by inviting us to engage, to be in the moment and in the world, away from the withdrawal that Biesta (2015b) refers to. As one of the participants in the study, Andre, mentioned earlier (see Chapter 3), a democratic school is “a community of people who bump up against each other and figure it out.” Bumping against each other is an essential principle of democracy, governed by rules by the people for the people. The protection and promotion of people’s rights and needs in democratic culture require community members to participate and have a voice. Those interruptions arrive as an awakening of the self for the guest, that is, the other, who wishes to be welcomed, as Derrida (2000) suggests; as an opportunity to begin again, as Arendt (1958) offers with her notion of the encounter; as the engagement in the world, as Biesta (2015b) offers with his notion of staying within the tension between destroying the world or withdrawing from the world; as the I–Thou, as Buber (1996) offers with his notion of being engaged in the moment without judgment and interest to gain or receive something 164 in return; and as being aware of otherness, that is, who is not losing one’s chair; as Ahmed (2012) offers with her notion of being stopped. The understandings that surface with all these notions, in the context of interruptions and radical hospitality, connect different themes that emerged throughout this thesis, as the need for ongoing adaptations and improvisations while individual and collective choices are valued. That is where art joins in with its imaginative sources that create opportunities to be surprised, offering adaptations followed by mistakes. Thus, it is important to pay attention to the need for the arts to assist in democratic education, in supporting a democratic way, while being an alternative for a mainstream education system that often solely assesses student knowledge through standardized tests. As Pinar (2011) elaborates: Cramming for tests, especially the standardized kind split off from daily classroom conversation, deforms schools, as it ends complicated conversation and open-ended study, replacing democracy with autocracy. Rather than paramilitary schools, democracy requires aesthetic education. Understanding art (whether as performance or object) as event and as simultaneously continuous and disjunctive with everyday experience, Maxine Greene envisions aesthetic education as engendering subjective and social reconstruction. (p. 95) Art as an Interruption—Laying the Groundwork for Dialogue Being engaged, in artistic terms, means to experience, to do, to be where the rational takes a rest while the imaginative invites the dialectic exploration of what is and calls us to engage, adapt, and improvise with the world. As Biesta (2018) suggests: And what I tend to see there is that art is precisely this ongoing, literally never-ending exploration of the encounter with what and who is other, the ongoing and never-ending exploration of what it might mean to exist in and with the world. (p. 17) Biesta (2018) claims that art offers an ongoing and never-ending exploration, that is, an invitation to encounter resistance in the making. The art making creates interruptions, 165 while one encounters materials, ideas, and others, which are more important than the final product of the art making. Biesta (2018) continues: Encountering the reality of paint, stone, wood, metal, sound, bodies, including one’s own body, encountering resistance, in order to explore possibilities, meet limits and limitations, and out of this create forms, establish forms and find forms that make existing-in-dialogue possible, that is what I see in the ‘doing’ of art. (p. 17) Bringing Biesta’s (2018) suggestions back to the context of Windsor House, in terms of creating, establishing, and finding forms to exist in dialogue, students and staff have daily opportunities to encounter and be interrupted by and with visual arts, performing arts, and literature. Offering those artistic forms, the Windsor House School and community makes dialogue possible. While artistic encounters are available for everyone on a daily basis, in relation to the whatever culture, that is also where radical hospitality could exist. Community members’ lived experiences help in forming as well as being formed by radical hospitality. The arts, by their very nature, lay the groundwork for dialogue by inviting and embracing interruptions, in addition to many other aspects the arts may offer. In the process of creating a platform for dialogue to exist, it is important to be aware of the individual and collective thoughts in the context of dialogue. Personal reflection about radical interruption and radical hospitality are also critical. In my personal a/r/tographic inquiry, I realized that I arrived to this study thinking that I was going to share with Windsor House staff what hospitality is all about. I deconstructed this assumption early in the process of the study without knowing where it would take my understanding. I realized how important it was to let go and stay open for new understanding to form. This motivation was put into question, which made the study more interesting and open ended. I kept my process known with all participants in the study, and I was aware it might shape our interactions. Thus, it was only later that my lesson arrived, after I had already been a part of the Windsor House community for a while. The lived experience within Windsor House community welcomed me to be a guest and witness radical hospitality. At Windsor House, hospitality does not always arrive in the shape of a cake and a cup of mint tea, as it had been for me in my Memeh’s home. I find Windsor 166 House’s radical hospitality is more similar to my experience of a family, with radical hospitality being less visible yet deeply felt. It is an invitation to be whatever one desires at any given moment without the fear of being judged. Radical hospitality in the Windsor House community means a holding space, for it is as inclusive as possible. It is not an easy task to distinguish between hospitality and radical hospitality. However, in trying to explain my understanding of the differences between those two terms, I suggest the following. If hospitality deals with being welcome and welcoming by being prepared, then radical hospitality deals with acceptance and being open to interruption and challenges, which may cause adaptations at the moment. Although, on one hand, radical hospitality may be perceived only as a positive and a welcoming culture, on the other hand it also invites the host to be stopped and be interrupted and challenged. These stops or interruptions have different appearances and at times their offerings are hard to perceive. While writing this thesis, I found I was interrupted often. The interruptions allowed and sometimes pushed me to shift my thinking and my lived experience. Those interruptions could be perceived as undesirable pauses, or occasionally as a gift. Being stopped may invite people, with their permission, to re-think and may assist individuals to open closed doors within them. For instance, in July 2016, I was stopped—and I did not pass. I was asked to open one of these closed doors in my heart after I found a swastika on the post in the underground lot next to my assigned parking spot. That night I wrote, with the assistance of neighbours, to my whole co-op community in a letter that was in a third person: There is a Jewish family who were shocked to be targeted by this hateful symbol in their home. It was the first time they have ever felt out of place in Vancouver, a community that has always been welcoming. The swastika is a symbol of violence, hate, and cruelty that has no place in our community. What is our responsibility in the face of this attack? The family has opened a file with the police. However, instead of starting an investigation, they are looking for ways to start a dialogue and heal from this hate crime. We are a diverse community that will always be stronger as a result of our differences. Now is our opportunity to step up and clearly state that as a 167 community we will not stand for this kind of hateful assault on one of our own families. We plan to hold a community gathering to talk about what has happened and share our feelings and support each other in moving forward as a community. We will share food and talk together. At first, this interruption of encountering a swastika on the post did not feel like a gift. It brought to my consciousness fears that my individual and collective thoughts carried from generations back. It brought tears that did not find rest. However, it also enabled complicated conversations to take place in the community in which I live. This radical interruption asked us to encounter each other in new ways and encourage us to engage in the world as Biesta (2018) names it. This hard moment for the community allowed a rebirth of its principles and boundaries as well as invited questioning and recreating together and apart, our democratic way of being with one another. Several neighbours created posters and passed them around for whomever wished to put them up on their home windows. These included statements such as, “We believe in inclusiveness, community, equality.” One day after the letter was sent, many windows around the co-op were filled with these posters. I found it uplifting and hopeful. At the same time, many of us experienced disappointment and discouragement deep inside that this had happened in our co-op. It is important to be reminded that this opportunity to connect and engage with the particular enabled me to realize the power of whatever culture in a democratic setting. This particular radical interruption, that is, the swastika, invited an understanding that even in the whatever culture, when we think it may be about complete acceptance, there is still a need for protection of democratic principles. Such protection might prevent events such as the swastika being posted and bring to attention the fact that one’s rights end at the point where they harm someone else. This understanding of the context needed for the whatever culture to exist, allowed radical hospitality to assist us. Embracing radical hospitality within the whatever culture brings with it the notion of the other into our awareness. Once the whatever culture, in which puts the individual first, embraces radical hospitality, it may enable all to experience social democracy. Pinar (2011) explained: On occasions playful and on others utterly serious, such complicated conversation enables students to experience social democracy, mocked by politicians who are 168 polarized by ideology. Social democracy is not personal posturing or groupthink but, rather, the engagement of others in deciphering the intersubjective reality in which all are embedded and participating, even when they are withdrawn. (p. 14) The whatever culture leads to artistic interruptions as opposed to harmful ones. Although the whatever culture may be perceived as one lacking in boundaries, it clearly functions in a democratic structure. This experience in the co-op brought many neighbours to exist in and with the world. Thus, the question that remains open is, what could nurture this ongoing exploration of existences in the world without experiencing harmful aspects such as the example of the swastika’s interruption? Radical Hospitality Meets Dialogue To understand what dialogue means, we must recognize the distinction between radical hospitality and dialogue. Radical hospitality, in its strictest sense, means acceptance, whereas dialogue, as this thesis presents, means being the guest within radical hospitality. I suggest that claiming acceptance without practising it regularly, as dialogue permits, would not be experienced as radical as it could be. Experiencing dialogue, as discussed in Chapter 1, may offer an opportunity to explore with and encounter others’ perspectives and ideas, while being aware of the self within the dialogue challenge (Biesta, 2006). I return now to Buber’s (1996) work in which he claims that in the mode of I–It there is an internal and an external component in which one gathers data, analyzes, classifies, and theorizes, that brings subject and the other as object—this calls into question dialogue, with its limited ability to exist. Therefore, this study offers the assistance needed with radical hospitality to support Buber’s concern. Bakhtin’s (1986) work aligns with this thesis as his understanding of dialogue represents the in-between rather than ownership, presenting dialogue as a relational act. I now move from the relational to plurality. As Arendt (1958) offers, plurality is a condition for action to happen as well for democracy, which allows the exploration of existential foundations. Thus, I suggest that the search for pluralism is necessary in our era in which we must face the ‘other’ in terms of emigration, immigration, and refugee. As 169 Esteva, Babones, and Babcicky (2013) state, “Instead of radically denying the ‘other’, as has been done under the flags of civilization, colonialism, evangelization, industrialization, modernization, democratization, and development, the world must open to a new, radical pluralism” (p. 149). Now, in retrospect, I realize this study also offers the understanding that, in order for dialogue to exist, people may need to complete the necessary groundwork that creates the space for it to exist. This groundwork includes the arts as well as the awareness of individual and collective thoughts. This study also shows that democracy and radical hospitality are always in the making, never finished or completed. Here I refer to the groundwork for practising radical hospitality, that is, unconditional acceptance and listening that requires holding space for people to be who they are or wish to be without judgment. The following question remains unanswered: Is it possible to suspend judgment, or is it more about noting our judgments and engaging anyway? This is the notion of democracy that Bickford (1996) refers to when she describes staying in the space of listening and having differences. This study also offers a unique addition to existing literature in democratic education: radical hospitality is essential to a dialogical relationship between the host and others. This contribution to the literature is important for developing an understanding of dialogue as a separate entity unto itself. However, be aware that it is not truly a separate entity since dialogue and radical hospitality are interrelated. Dialogue is an organic growth within radical hospitality. The following piece, which I wrote in December 2018, relates to this discussion: Radical hospitality starts from within it invites us to surrender or embrace our fears, while encounters and emotions arise encounters and emotions from inside out. Radical hospitality comes with consent and the courage to say no when yes for hosting radically is not available for us and receiving a thank you for taking care of your self. Radical hospitality allows authentic being to begin again 170 to witness others and invite them into the flow as dry leaves flow on the ground amidst a windy day. 171 Chapter 7: The End of the Beginning Figure 8. Interruptions. Photo by Ofira Roll. “This is not because the emancipatory teacher lacks knowledge, but because knowledge is not the ‘way’ of emancipation.” (Biesta, 2017, p. 66) 172 A playful picnic table arrived with its special spirit. Inviting, hosting, playing, and sharing our becoming. Encountering our shields of fear from being together. Asking us to see ourselves in one another. Asking us to join. A playful picnic table arrived with its questions for this community. Assisting us, them, you, and me in being together. Welcoming the unknown of immersing in a collective. Children’s handprints are here to remind us who we are. A rainbow piano reminds us to imagine and fly with its offering. A playful picnic table arrived with its gifts. Asking us to free our hearts and minds. Around the table, individuals’ needs call for challenging dialogue. Take a seat and take your time to join in. A playful picnic table arrived, asking each of us, “What do you want to BE in this community?” As mentioned in Chapter 3 regarding the choice of responsibilities and roles of participants in Windsor House, the poem that opens this chapter has a similar sense of agency. I wrote this poem in the summer of 2017 as an invitation to the community I live in, as an artistic overture that calls for us to encounter the world. For the readers of this thesis, it may also be an invitation to reflect upon creating understanding among its members’ and their roles. I suggest here that the creation of a community invites a reclaiming of members’ purpose and responsibility as an interruption within the self and community, while dialogue plays a dominant role within the community. As such, dialogue can be viewed as a call for recognition within a community for having monologue alongside dialogue. Being part of a community requires intra-relational as well as, inter-relational work. Revisiting this text and its meaning a year after the study was undertaken, following a personal inquiry of what radical hospitality means and asks from one within a community, I realized that the crucial work in the context of radical hospitality is within oneself. In this distinction between the self and other, in which self exists separately from the social, Buber (1996) clarifies the transition from the mode of encounter, I-Thou, to the mode of 173 experience, I-It. The I-Thou mode offers a relational experience. Thus, Buber’s (1996) understanding may encourage one to reconsider the self-other perspective into a third in-between mode, I-It-Thou. Applying this in-between mode, the work within oneself in the context of radical hospitality may coexist with relational existences, that is the I-Thou mode. Buber offers a more dichotomic perspective, while reality offers many shades of grey in between the black and white. Thus, the third mode I present here may create space for the shades of grey. Briefly put, my argument runs as follows: the important guest in practising radical hospitality is the host. As Biesta (2017) writes, To exist in a grown-up way is therefore not something that we can claim to have achieved at a certain age or stage in life or after a certain amount of learning. It rather describes a way of being, a “quality” of existing, where we are not subjected to our desires – we might also say: where we are not just an object of our desires – but where we are a subject in relation to our desires. The key educational question, therefore, is whether what I desire is what I should desire, whether it is desirable for my own life, my life with others, on a planet that only has limited capacity for fulfilling our desires. (pp. 17–18) Reflecting on this aspect of democratic education places attention and care on people both individually and collectively. The question of whether what I desire is what I should desire is explored in democratic education in terms of choices of activities and courses, decision-making and processes, proposals in the school council, through innovations in the school and in the community, and so on. To bring this thesis story to a close and to allow a new beginning to follow, this chapter invites the reader to receive a holistic understanding of this study. I return to some theories and practices that I have mentioned throughout the thesis to be considered as foundational in understanding democratic education as dialogue, as radical hospitality, as an artistic social engaged collaboration, and as the notions of staying open to interruptions and creating creative adaptations accordingly. The foundational principles I listed above, which are lived experiences within democratic education, used to be known more in the 174 educational practices of different cultures. However, in recent years, less creative and more rigid foundations of educational settings have replaced those principles, such as staying open to interruptions and creating creative adaptation accordingly. As Adams and Owens (2016) state: Ideals that were at the foundation of the welfare states in Western nations, for which creative, imaginative expressions through the arts were once considered to be as essential and as basic as our more modern educational obsessions with entrepreneurial, technocratic knowledge and competition. (p. 135) Also, in this chapter, one could find possible implications of this study, which may be valuable for educators in democratic education as well as mainstream education. To return to these concepts, notions, and implications in a closing manner but not in a concluding one, it is important to mention that all notions, inquiries, and views represented throughout this thesis are meant to spark conversation and the imagination, not to be claimed as truths. These would be served in three parts of the meal, just as meals were served in my grandmother Memeh’s home: first Salatim, second Seh-oo-da, and last Teh. Salatim, Seh-oo-da, Teh, and Democratic Education From the perspective of artistic, socially engaged collaboration that took place in this study in the form of cooking and feasting together, this metaphor of a meal can be seen as an opportunity to join in, an opportunity to relate to the experience participants went through while taking part in this study with food and creating meaning. Salatim. First is the salatim, which are dips and salads. The salatim are served on the table, which requires a plate and a seat. Salatim are an invitation to join the table and start the dialectic feast without further ado. Salatim serves here as a metaphor for radical hospitality experience. Placing salatim on the table means that everyone is welcome to take a seat, without asking for permission. Salatim hold the meal together, just as radical hospitality holds the space for everyone to be accepted and welcomed. However, with time being limited in the age of accountability, productivity, and the desire to meet the curriculum requirements marathon, extracurricular activities are salatim—radical 175 hospitality may be perceived as a useless part of the meal, calling for too much time without clear results. Thus, salatim are often the first experiences to be cut from an education experience. Radical hospitality, like salatim, is not offered as a main dish, but rather as an overall experience while encountering open-ended conversation, activity, arts, and play. They are all there, all the time—offered as the salatim on the table. As Memeh, my grandmother, would claim, a seh-oo-da (i.e., the feast) without the salatim is not a seh-oo-da—one needs the creative, the imaginative, the salatim to nibble on, while taking a pause from the main dish, which is the main content that is offered (i.e., the curriculum). Salatim preparation requires much time and effort, which is not always available. Like salatim, radical hospitality, even if it is not named as such, requires open-ended curriculum with unclaimed time to exist. Salatim creates a sense of connection that welcomes everybody in (i.e., the radical hospitality). Salatim are the glue that connects all of the courses into a meal (i.e., the seh-oo-da). It is as if to say the salatim are the flavours that blend all into one. Salatim always remain on the table to make everyone feel included and welcome, and the same is true of radical hospitality. Along these lines, radical hospitality at Windsor House may appear to be less open at first sight. Only after inquiring into important questions, such as, what does radical hospitality mean and offer? In what ways could radical hospitality host dialogical space? Who is radical in it? What makes it radical and for whom? What does it mean to host radically? For what reason would one want to do so—does the radical hospitality at Windsor House appear with its qualities of acceptance? The process of creating the feel of radical hospitality at Windsor House requires that people build long-term relationships within the community and among educators, students, and caregivers. These relationships are experienced and exist beyond a specific class or a year. The feel of radical hospitality at Windsor House is also offered in a more subtle fashion with an overall experience while encountering open-ended conversations, activities, arts, and plays at any given time and place if needed or desired. This hidden but known process holds many different truths that may be changed in any given moment. There is an ongoing expectation to adapt and to listen to students’ current needs and voices. 176 Therefore, since one of the essential principles of this thesis is radical hospitality as a lived experience of radical acceptance, with ongoing unexpected interruptions that lead to creative adaptations, I argue that these are at the core of this education. The reason for this claim is that democratic education has persisted against all the odds to stay progressive, attentive, open, and inclusive in this era. Following this study, it is important to remember that radical hospitality means more than providing the space, the food, and gathering the people, and hosting the event. Radical hospitality brings the desire for relational being, practicing acceptances, and providing the opportunity to share experiential and nutritional offerings. Despite the fact that radical hospitality may be perceived as being positive and comfortable for all, this way of being actually allows people to experience discomfort, ambiguity, open-ended situations, and interruption, which is thanks to the full acceptance. Another way to explain it is, once individuals feel fully accepted and loved, they can encounter new experiences within the world with less fear and questioning, if any. Thus, after having experienced radical hospitality, students are more open to trying new things, being innovative without being sure it will work, and being engaged in arts and play, all of which offer constant unexpected interruptions. Seh-oo-da. Second is the seh-oo-da, which is a meal that includes all the courses and dishes, served all at once. Seh-oo-da, as I experienced it in my grandmother Memeh’s home, as well as at Windsor House, has a sensation of a carnival (Bakhtin, 1965). The term carnival calls social structures and a specific order or politeness into a question, whereas the seh-oo-da offers the implications of radical hospitality in practice. Here there is an important difference to pay attention to while checking the notion of seh-oo-da in mainstream education. One may think that the parallel of seh-oo-da in school environment is the main curriculum (i.e., the main dishes). However, I suggest that there is no difference in the curriculum between the two; rather, the difference lies in people’s lived experiences. Given the complexity, allow me to explain in what ways these differ. Were seh-oo-da to be viewed as the main curriculum then these two streams of education would be the same. Although the curriculum may be perceived as a different one in practice, Windsor House uses the same curriculum as mainstream education. However, its lived experience is dramatically different. The seh-oo-da (i.e., the meal) in mainstream 177 education is usually fixed with main dishes (i.e., courses, instruction, and structured timeframes). This provides a clear beginning and ending. There are those who counter this mainstream education approach by choosing to resist mainstream thought and by offering an alternative. As Illich (1970) notes: In fact, learning is the human activity which least needs manipulation by others. Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting. Most people learn best by being “with it,” yet school makes them identify their personal, cognitive growth with elaborate planning and manipulation. (p. 39) Illich (1970) stresses that majority of learning happens while participating in a meaningful setting. As such, in democratic education, (i.e., Windsor House) the main dishes are less fixed and more open ended. I came to understand that at Windsor House the main curriculum means practising acceptance towards each other and the self; remaining open to interruptions; creating adaptations on the go; practising being with, listening to, and assisting of; practising the consent culture; inviting the imaginative to daily life experiences by artistic and non-artistic encounters; and living the whatever culture. In the case of democratic education, and in particular at Windsor House, the curriculum is less tangible and harder to measure for accountability purposes. I find it interesting that at the beginning of the study I perceived the artistic, socially engaged collaboration as the salatim; however, I came to a new understanding towards the end of the writing process, which is that the collaborative cooking lives partially in the salatim, in the seh-oo-da, and in the teh as well. The opening quote of this chapter by Biesta (2017) discusses the emancipation in democratic education in general. In practice at Windsor House, this means that emancipation comes from a sense of agency, from knowing one’s voice in the world, from being engaged in the world and with the world, from allowing the imaginative and artistic to take a lead by interrupting the here and now, from knowing to embrace interruption and adapt accordingly, from listening deeply to the world both inward and outward, and from knowing to pause. 178 Therefore, while the set curriculum of mainstream education would create the seh-oo-da, in democratic education, and in particular at Windsor House, the set curriculum may be found within the practice of emancipation (i.e., the meal), as well as part of the Teh (i.e., the tea). Those essential principles are not perceived at Windsor House as a preparation for the dialogue that may or may not happen during the teh, but as a way of living democratically. Thus, it is important to remember that even set curriculum, which may be perceived as fixed, in practice it may have many ways to exist with the influences of students, educators, and the school community in large. Teh. Last is the teh (or tea), which comes after the seh-oo-da. Teh comforts everyone after feasting together and allows for openness towards each other’s voices. The teh is the open-ended conversation, sometimes on a topic that arose during the seh-oo-da (i.e., the meal) and sometimes on a planned subject brought in by one or more group members. In mainstream education, the teh tends to happen occasionally, based on time availability. The teh is considered to be extracurricular and is viewed as a treat. Whereas at Windsor House, the teh happens more frequently, since subjects and activities are based on students’ interest and are conducted with them, for them, and at times by them. At Windsor House, some courses have a set topic or an umbrella topic, while other courses are based on topics that arose through conversations that were of interest to students during the seh-oo-da. It is also important to note that at times students lead a course; any community member can teach others, not only educators or parents. The teh with its flow offers an opportunity to develop dialogical skills without a set goal or conclusion but for the sake of exploring, unfolding, questioning, and rethinking. The teh calls people to be with each other in the here and now, with no clear-cut beginning or ending. Through developing dialogical skills the teh offers an opportunity to have complicated conversations with the assistance of a set curriculum. This suggests that the set curriculum offers students “something to chew on.” In practice at Windsor House, studying may appear to an outside observer as an engaging conversation or a disorganized or undirected gathering. In actuality, at Windsor House this process enables everyone to experience self-worth and self-determination. It is for this reason that classes at Windsor House are more engaging and interesting. Although many would think that there are many 179 complex reasons for that to happen, I argue that it happens for fairly simple reasons, which are mainly due to the directed efforts during the seh-oo-da part of the education. While emancipation in democratic education comes before the knowledge per se, students as well all community members, feel respected and invited to join in by being in the middle ground, as Biesta (2015b) names it. Being in the middle ground within supported seh-oo-da allows one to experience resistance without reaching the moment of avoiding others and disengaging from the world; this also prevents people from reaching the extremes of destroying themselves or others. I argue that what makes the teh possible and meaningful in democratic education are the experiences during the seh-oo-da such as practising democratic skills in an ongoing fashion; experiencing an ongoing imaginative and artistic interruptions; and particularly not being measured, compared, judged, or made to compete with one another. The seh-oo-da is about the personal growth of each member in the school community. Although Illich’s (1970) words were written several decades ago, they are still needed in our time: But personal growth is not a measurable entity. It is growth in disciplined dissidence, which cannot be measured against any rod, or any curriculum, nor compared to someone else’s achievement. In such leaning one can emulate others only in imaginative endeavour, and follow in their footsteps rather than mimic their gait. The learning I prize is immeasurable re-creation. (p. 40) All those aspects of the seh-oo-da keep people’s desire to explore new ideas, concepts, and understanding widely open. The topics discussed are not so different from mainstream educational curriculum or from the methods through which mainstream education is delivered. The differences lie in the educational experience, which is based upon participants being respected and asking them to respect others in turn. This can happen in both democratic education and mainstream schooling. I suggest that in mainstream schooling it is more up to the teachers to determine if their practice is all about respect and dialogue and self-determination, as the overall school environment does not offer this learning opportunity. Similarly, in the democratic education school environment, 180 the school holds less space for deductive, formal, and standardizes test2 but some teachers do create space for it. Thus, the dialogue that may or may not happen during the teh has an important role within democratic education. In this way, the salatim and the seh-oo-da fertilize the ground and enable the seeds of dialogue to grow. The dialogue is the opportunity to practise it all, nourishing students’ encounters in and with the world. The dialogue required me to revisit and rethink my understanding of dialogue. At the beginning of this inquiry, through my study of different thinkers’ contributions, I perceived dialogue as a separate entity rather than as an inseparable woven aspect of life. However, in the undoing and openings I experienced with Windsor House participants, and through the process of reflection and writing this thesis, I came to understand dialogue more as an irreplaceable part of an ecosystem, in which each component depends upon the others to exist. To bring the meal metaphor to a close, perhaps it should be mentioned that, diverging from the experience of a meal in my grandmother Memeh’s home, in democratic education, the three parts of the meal may not be served on the same day or in a specific order. There are days when one or two parts of the meal require people’s attention more than the others, and at Windsor House those would receive the time and space they need. The salatim are there all the time, alternating between being hidden and known. The seh-oo-da and the teh at times, and in a supportive way, require different amounts of attention. How Can Democratic Education be Done and What is Next? Democratic education appears to be in opposition to a prescribed curriculum. However, as presented throughout the thesis, that is not the case. This study dealt with meaning of the lived curriculum at Windsor House. To understand democratic education, it 2 Although Windsor House offers a school environment that is free from a structure of qualifications and assessments, students always have the option participate in tests if they wish. As expected, based on Windsor House community principles, such as the self-determination and the profound respect, children are welcome to co-create their own goals with their mentors and parent/guardians every few months. Their goals may include tests, grades, and online portfolios. It is a choice that children tend to make in their teens, while considering life goals such as higher education and jobs. This path of assessment is not encouraged at Windsor House but allowed and supported like any other choice. 181 is important to study the lived experience of the school, which is beyond written purposes and values. It is not to say that study of mainstream education should require such care. However, while in democratic education the lived experience is more in flux (i.e., in a state of constant change), in mainstream education there are more agreed-upon routines, responsibilities, and frameworks to work with and within. That being said, as in any system of humans, mainstream education also involves the lived experience and requires attention and careful listening. In this sense, it is also important to note that the meaning that the learning community collectively creates and explores is not fixed and keeps changing in relation to the needs of the students, educators, and the community. Those adaptations are an integral component of Windsor House as well as democratic education. Thus, the heart of this study captured in the title of this chapter, “The End of the Beginning.” By claiming this I mean that in any future and further work with democratic education, and particularly at Windsor House, I suggest that all inquiries be based on the notion of the end of the beginning, if you will. The end of the beginning carries with it the notion that there is no truth to search for; rather, we must try to disassemble, adapt, and relearn our understanding of democratic education, as it is complex and simple at the same time. As Bronwen suggests (personal communication, February 2, 2019): Our demographic was already changing, as it seems to me that we were struggling to find an effective way to engage and collaborate with enough older students to create programming that they could feel confident in and eager to engage with, with a balance of ease, cohesiveness and challenge that could be sustainable and inspiring.… The world is changing quickly for them, and I think it is a reflection of our adaptability that we can change and transition in ways that a larger and more conventional school isn’t able to do. Not everything we try will work or succeed, but it is a huge gift that we have had this experience to learn and grow from and add to our body of knowledge through loved experience. Not to mention the resilience it demonstrated and brought out in our community, as we not only survived, but have managed to be a school of choice for about the same number of, if different, people. 182 Democratic education is about being engaged in the world as an individual as well as part of a collective. It is a respectful environment for people to grow in; it allows people to express their needs and desires, achieve self-determined goals, and be open to ongoing adaptations. Above all, democratic education allows people to question truths, create meaning, and explore for the sake of exploration, not with a specific end result in mind. A member of the IDEC community, Marko Koskinen (personal communication, February 6, 2018), recently wrote the following: Democratic Education is a form of education, which respects individual freedoms and human rights, helping the community members to learn hands-on democracy by allowing each community member, regardless of age, to participate in the governance of the community. In DE [democratic education] learning is usually based strongly on intrinsic motivation and self-directed education. The community is there to support and to inspire, but not to motivate or coerce the learning process of the community members. In short, it is the French Revolution version of education, "Liberté, égalité, fraternité," freedom, equality and fraternity (brotherhood). I now continue with the discussion of the future potential of students. In practice, in mainstream education there is tendency toward controlling the present in the name of accountability for future outcomes and results. Thus, it is important to ask questions that deal with meaning rather than those that deal with producing. As Biesta (2018) asserts, “Rather than asking what education produces, we should be asking what education means. And rather than asking what education makes, we should be asking what education makes possible” (p. 13). Returning to the future of democratic education, I suggest that community members strive to reflect people’s dreams and desire to exist. The arts can assist in this endeavour. Biesta (2018) continues: Art makes our desires visible, gives them form, and by trying to come into dialogue with what or who offers resistance, we are at the very same time engaged in the exploration of the desirability of our desires and in their rearrangement and transformation. (p. 18) 183 Be it and Live it In my personal encounters through the years at Windsor House I grew to believe that at this school students are not lectured to dream big but encouraged to be it and live it, and this manifests differently for each individual at the school. The seed of this understanding was planted for me (and for others) several years back. In 2008, the Windsor House community hosted IDEC in Vancouver. It was my first visit to Vancouver. At that conference, I led a workshop with Meghan (the current principal of Windsor House) called “Teacher Training: What should ‘Teacher Training’ Look Like for a Democratic School Staff Person.” We arrived at the workshop location with one clear goal, which was to inspire participants to follow their dreams and aspirations instead of lecturing students to do so. We facilitated an unstructured conversation about what it means to model living our dreams and we shared ideas. During the workshop, which for me was akin to teh, we also offered everyone two minutes of quiet to imagine realizing one manageable dream for the coming year. After the two minutes had passed participants were eager to share and to start living their dreams. Each of us made a promise to ourselves with 50 others as witnesses. I remember several participants’ dreams, and I especially remember mine, as it came to shape my family’s future in Vancouver. This understanding lived within me all these years, knowing the importance of being it and living it. The dream I shared was simple: to move my family to Vancouver so I could study and write my doctoral dissertation on Windsor House. The moment arrived, years passed, and my dream came true. Therefore, I wish to close this thesis with a short story I shared on my blog on October 20, 2013: “Don’t dream it, be it” Rocky Horror Picture Show Working, for many, means a big pile of hours next to the screen, typing, and dreaming about what I would do after I am done. Today, however, I experienced a special day while volunteering in a democratic school in North Vancouver. I got to work as I dreamt about in the last few years. This school, Windsor House, which has been around for more than 40 years, offers an alternative space to be and grow in. There was a magical atmosphere around school today in the preparation for the show tonight. A 184 group of teens with the help of younger peers, educators, and parents, put together [a production of] the Rocky Horror Picture Show. They were beyond inspiring.… For me, [they meaning to] the line … “Don’t dream it, be it” at a truly practical level. I sweat today, working on the set with drills, wood, and more. I cannot name it yet, but something lighted in me today that will probably not let me forget to be what I dream to be. Future Thoughts Predicting the future implications of this study for Windsor House or democratic education may be counterproductive based on the understanding and meaning gathered and created through this thesis. I believe it would be detrimental to try to impose and construct the future. As such, the following implications are offered as suggestions and represent only a few of the many possibilities that the future may hold. Future implications for Windsor House. Moving forward, I suggest the meal metaphor described in this chapter as a concept for the Windsor House community to consider. Although this does offers a framework, it is also open to interpretation and adaptation. The meal concept of salatim, seh-oo-da, and teh may provide an opportunity to observe the meta-understanding of the present. Looking into the meta means examining the bigger picture, allowing people to fully grasp what leads to what and determine how something works. If this suggestion is adopted, it is important that the meal concept be applied as a creative inspiration, not as a theory to follow or a means to construct the lived education experience. Future implications for mainstream education. To take the meaning and understanding from this study and implement them as is into mainstream education may be unjust to both forms of education. It would be unjust in terms of opposing a perspective of a meal concept (as discussed in this thesis) that may be perceived as foreign in mainstream education, since the current framework in mainstream education still requires measurements, results, and comparisons. 185 I believe the meaning and understanding that have come to through this study must be adapted to fit into and thereby benefit the mainstream education system according to the strengths and limitations that exist across all streams of education. The first step would be to work with Biesta’s (2018) question: What does education means to us, and what could education make possible? This is an important starting point that could lead to complicated conversations and enable educators to encounter the choices within the mainstream education. This inquiry could then be continued by asking an educator in mainstream education: what am I willing to risk in my teaching in order to move from what education produces to what education means (Biesta, 2018)? Then, continuing with a focus on personal work, educators can examine the notion of radical hospitality and dialogue for themselves. While looking into the meta-understanding of the question of what education is for and how democratic education helps in achieving this goal, radical hospitality comes to assist us. As Biesta (2016) refers to three potential purposes of education, that is, qualification, socialization, and subjectification, radical hospitality enables those three purposes to happen with respect to personal desires. In other words, radical hospitality offers unconditional acceptance to be in the moment as the stories of one another unfold. In doing so, radical hospitality holds space for subjectification to unfold. Socialization and subjectification are dominant principles of democratic education and are supported by the lived experience of radical hospitality. At
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Dialogue in radical hospitality : creating meaning of democratic education through dialogic cooking Roll, Ofira 2019
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