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Prophet, priest, and king: an interpretive rewriting of an English teacher’s vocation Wiebe, Sean 1995

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Prophet, Priest, and King: An Interpretive Rewriting of an English Teacher's Vocation by SEAN WIEBE B . A . , The University of British Columbia, 1991 B.Ed., The University of British Columbia, 1992 A THESIS S U B M I T T E D IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T OF T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S FOR T H E D E G R E E OF M A S T E R OF A R T S  ;  in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Department of Language Education) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  T H E U N I V E R S I T Y OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A August, 1995 © Sean Wiebe, 1995  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment  of the requirements for an advanced  degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department  or  by his or  her  representatives.  It  is understood that  copying or  publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  Department of  /• ^ ^ 6r U A 6^<£~  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date  DE-6 (2/88)  3a,  /??JT  <EDOcATlOtJ  11  Abstract In this inquiry I examine the spiritual significance of English pedagogy through a rewriting of my spiritual and pedagogical voices: prophet, priest, and king. Being poetic, the inquiry "plays out" my teaching experiences stressing the ambivalence of language and the pervasiveness of metaphor. With each word the poetry shifts, its meaning likewise, and with every shift this inquiry is destabilized. At the same time, because each word holds a history of infinite facets, everything depends on the words. Thus, somewhere between each shift grows an intertextual relationship of the prophet, priest, and kingly voices. Keeping the poetic voices constantly in play, constantly combining and recombining them in provocative new ways, is the emerging nature of this inquiry. Emerging in this way, the point of my re-search is to explore further what a spiritual English pedagogy itself entails, particularly, staying open to the lived experience, which in turn leads to deeper understandings. Thus, this inquiry is not framed in traditional modes of pedagogical inquiry. It has been the  I l l  result of living in tension—so much so that what has emerged is not another teaching model, frame, or skeleton, but the breath of poetry which brings a skeleton life. It is my central purpose to "play out" my existential experience of English pedagogy. My poetic reflections, will not only contribute to our knowledge of English teaching and the curriculum, but also will anticipate a fuller understanding of spirituality and education as a source of possibility.  iv  Table of Contents Abstract  p.ii  Table of Contents  p.iv  Acknowledgements  p.v  Preface  p.vi  Beginnings Opening Conversation Back Into Mystery  P-1 p.7 p.12  The Weaving of a Vocation Eschatological Relations: Inter-contextualizing the Voices Something Unexpected  p.26 p.27 p.36  A Prophet in the Midst of Pedagogy A Crisis in Identity An Oracle  p.43 p.44 p.64  A Pedagogic Priest A Disturbance of Knowledge A Prophetic Priest: (mis)Hearing the Call  p.84 p.85 p.99  The Pedagogy of King Dispelling the Tyrant King Kingdom Relations of Prophet and Priest  p. 120 p.121 p.131  Endings Not a Permanent State Harkening to the Notes  p. 140 p.141 p. 147  References  p.161  A c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s  During the past two years, I have been in a continuous process of altering the very soul of my teaching. But there have been many who have helped me in this, and it is their care and inspiration which I would like to honour: Dr. Carl Leggo who encouraged me at just the right moments. A few years ago he introduced me to the daily journaling and open self-evaluation which has brought my teaching to life. His love for poetry and teaching have affected the very way I look at the world, and it is often his voice persuading me to undertake the challenge of stretching my thinking to the very edge. Dr. Ted Aoki, whose classes on educational theory have helped me rethink many of my beliefs. He nurtured my work in its early stages, providing an environment that was happy, secure, and inviting, so much so that his voice has sustained me through the tension of questioning everything I do. Ted, more than any other, gave me the confidence to risk using a personal voice in my research. Dr. Beth Sparks for her critique and constructive input. She helped bring this work to completion, sacrificing many hours in a short time. Phil Goldthorpe, whose passion for writing and unwavering determination was a continual motivation to push onward. Mark and Beth Daley for sharing their love for Christian teaching, and whose conversations and reassurances have taught me much about friendship. My wife, Wendy, who silently supported me in all challenge, risk, change, and growth.  vi  A Poetic Pedagogy  Preface In coming to a deeper understanding of my call to teaching, I have often wrestled with what I now realize as personal voices growing within me: the existential and pedagogical voices of prophet, priest, and king. And since it is through these voices that I understand my calling, I begin with an explanation of them. The "prophet" voice, far from being the traditional Old Testament voice of doom and destruction, is a voice which brings renewed appreciation for words, questions, and knowledge. Speaking through words, the prophet, by nature, cherishes and savours words with a rich fullness, while responsibly upholding the sacred roots of word-making, word-giving, even word-playing. Similarly, the voice of "priest" is not the talk of religiosity, but a voice of listening and loving characteristics; the priestly voice continually underlines the real humanity of pedagogy while simultaneously suggesting something which is holy and sacred. The priest provides a dwelling place for students, bringing them together in a space of harmony. The final voice is kingly. This voice makes no call to authority, and receives  vii  A Poetic Pedagogy  the "king" label only because of the eschatological nature of the paradox: the first shall be last; the least, greatest; the weak, strong. This voice speaks of the nature and meaning of the kingdom, the role of living "forwardly," and the tension between present and future realities. It is not an ordinary voice, and is somewhat difficult to reconcile with those with notions of authority, rule, and sovereignty. But, to those that hear it, the kingly voice lives with and talks with servitude. Where do these voices come from? Specifically, from my journal, where poetry has crafted and shaped the textures of these voices. Thus, in a poetic way the voices of prophet, priest, and king play out my teaching experiences. Much like an opera, they interrupt the prose text at every opportunity. For this reason, the writing is difficult in places. The naturalflowof the text is often interrupted to play out an idea in song. This means the experience of trying to read this opera will be both a luxury and a risk.  1  Jardine, David. (1994). Speaking With a Boneless Tongue. Bragg Creek, A B : Mayko Press, p. v i . 1  A Poetic Pedagogy  viii  Risky, for this work is composed only of notes. My writing the text this way is not an attempt to be artful or poetic. Rather it is a challenge to the very nature of writing and reading. In such a challenge,  one might expect confrontations with paradoxes,  uncertainties, logical fallacies, discrepant allusions and cultural contradictions. Yes, there is much of this—but do not be surprised—these things have always been evident in writing. My intention is simply to let the unexpected happen. Rather than controlling the text, I will leave it open to weave this way and that. Though this challenge is risky, I also mentioned a luxury. Perhaps, in the gaps or jumps or unexpected turns of thought, the reader will thrive on the understandings ambiguity exposes, or, together with multiple strands of thought, generate his or her own meaning from the emerging text. This process, though seemingly on the edge of legitimate inquiry, is not altogether new. David Jardine has written extensively on the interpretation of these features. Indeed, in  Speaking With A Boneless Tongue  there are some of the most  striking illustrations of "deconstructivist" thinking. Fragments from  A Poetic Pedagogy  ix  various periods and works are juxtaposed, there are quotes, notes, and subsidiary notes and fragments exploding all over the page, and there is a vast eclectic amalgamation of every work imaginable. Undoubtedly, Jardine's intention to challenge language and thinking bears directly on his stylistic choices. What is called literary deconstruction stresses the ambivalence of language and the pervasiveness of metaphor rather than logic in the presentation of argument. So, in light of deconstructive approaches, the voices of prophet, priest, and king play out the existence of paradoxical themes, too often hidden or closed behind dominant or traditional modes of pedagogical inquiry. Paralleling my writing approach, readers should be attentive to those clashes of context that are present in my works, having explication, rather than reconciliation, in mind. To do so denies hierarchy and convention in language, saying it is simply an assemblage of continual creative acts. In other words, this inquiry will be a kind of celebration, an opening and an accepting of an original, existing space where creativity can grow from. As Derrida points out,  A Poetic Pedagogy  x  writing both precedes and is the culmination of all human activity.  2  Derrida is not speaking historically but epistemologically. For Derrida, writing is like DNA, a living trace in all creatures.  Derrida, Jacques. (1976). Of Grammatology. Translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. 1st American Edition. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. 2  1  B e g i n n i n g s  A Poetic Pedagogy  The First Inquiry After a long look we lose the guarded meaning once cherished; so constant it removes artifice inebriate with danger Do I mean by danger something self-conscious something chosen as no one chooses making words I barely recognize? the self, a tyrant, necessary to maintain poise where loss is so profound we fail to see it in the rubble just cleared from a lot of thought I think a lot about the line between words with and words for, a preposition of impossibility  II The inquiry proves that beauty's just a screen for horror; naked men shiver from the cold wind of our phrases too often repeated in pretended sympathy Quite possibly, beauty is  2  A Poetic Pedagogy  the first art, but only if aesthetics grafts itself to pain; the sharp chatter met by higher registers the dull bleeding sound all the cacophony that resembles our failure to speak Perhaps it's best to invite failure for a while reserve the right to silence until words return, bubbling upward like lava, spelling a vocabulary of redemption before the next dispensation To be one within the stream may mean the rush of syllables can give us life: language only saves itself but full immersion in it may save us from ourselves  III  Apprehension is anticipation the most agile mode of feeling gaining ground like a new river writing itself forward, ever forward not knowing where it's going what is there to fear but our own form and who's to care unless we, paralyzed by the passage, are afraid to read further  3  A Poetic Pedagogy In digressions prose is happier than most beaming between the spotlights stealing the show How will I remember this? what stories will there be to tell? only time will tell and I'm not there yet the present calls us home and there's little we can do to change the order of our words despite the dam on the river that makes light of the water gathering behind it a mirror so like a map I'll never tell the difference Is thinking this romantic, though partially crazed, the reflex scare a self a spinning top, gaining speed even as it loses momentum, and this a definition of tragedy slightly against the grain, where one's reflection can no longer show, as it shrinks into the mere self of itself Everything finally gets sealed in like a lion inside a hoop, stalled there because the mind chooses it, lost finally at the very  4  A Poetic Pedagogy  apex of its leap  IV The wind reminds us of ourselves the trees in this equation are nouns the wind verbs, transitive at that and transitory, shedding the husks of leaves bits of paper, fallen nests, though not revealing its core; only the rind of the wind shows We may be past such equations of ourselves with things, but our correspondence tells us otherwise that the words we shed like leaves do not conform to the shapes of sentences the house we share is a vocabulary and our struggles to stay in the same dialect are made more difficult by the way in which words break, like shingles repeated use merely reaffirms the difference between what we say and how the books tell us to say it Words have dominion over us as the tops of trees do over shadows that play on the glazy surface the language recycles itself but is never the same even cliches change and that we trust them only means we distrust stability, as we do  5  A Poetic Pedagogy  any history that happens before our birth Try to re-capture what was never in the first place captured; barring that, create from point zero something you always suspected was true, like the wind inside a jar, always abstract and never there  6  7  A Poetic Pedagogy  Opening Conversation When I entered my teaching vocation I faced a fundamental dilemma: a choice between teaching in a public school or a Christian school—I chose, or rather was chosen, for the latter. Beginning my 3  orientation at Richmond Christian School, I labelled myself a Christian English teacher, not only as a description of occupation, but as a hard-fought title of triumph. Situated in the midst of my first weeks of teaching, however, I realized that this label was continually fluctuating, and I questioned its classroom practicality.  4  Questioning this label has not only led me to the inquiry of prophet, priest, and king, but also through it. The questioning has caused and sustained an inquiry which has pushed me into two years of pedagogical crisis, the arduous process of altering my spirit. In the "long look" at the very soul of my teaching, a day hasn't passed that I am now convinced that God had called me to teaching, an idea that reverberates throughout this poetical autobiography. 3  It is important to understand that the notion of prophet, priest, and king is not what separates Christianity and Education, but what combines. Thus, while prophet, priest, and king is a personal pedagogy, my way of living as a teacher, it may also open spaces where others (who are not Christian English teachers) can be part of this process of altering one's spirit. 4  A Poetic Pedagogy  8  I haven't gone to class and asked myself (and my students) some Very hard questions about me and what I do. In looking at the "whys" of my pedagogy, I've realized that there are spaces between "Christian" and "English" and "teacher." This realization has not been an epiphany, nor a superficial, quick-fix approach. Instead, it has been 5  the result of living in tension—so much so that what has emerged from these spaces is not another teaching model, frame, or skeleton, but the breath of poetry which brings a skeleton life, in my case the voices of prophet, priest, and king singing pedagogically. Poetry turns everything into life. It is that form of life that turns everything into language. It does not come to us unless language itself has become a form of life. That is why it is so unique. For it does not cease to work on us....A listening, an awakening... [a] rhythm that knows us and that we do not know. It is...what has always been said to escape language: life, the movement no word is supposed to be able to say. 6  I no longer think of inquiry as a vision of the finger of God that wrote both the Ten Cornmandments and the destiny of nations on a wall, as if there were only one possible meaning within my experience (Exodus 20; Psalm 2; Daniel 5). 5  Henri Meschonnic, cb. Jardine, David. (1994). Speaking With a Boneless Tongue. Bragg Creek, A B : Makyo Press, p. xiii. 6  A Poetic Pedagogy  9  Time Makes It Quite Clear the blueness of water inquires its dark shade acquires the grey soft slapping waves secretly sneaking indirectly turning and covering without explaining what is happening then startled black long and black it becomes quite clear  The poetry must not be read as a journey, as one's personal discovery of the self. I am not Wordsworth on a poetic excursion up a mountain to find meaning in sublime experience. There will be no beginning, for the story has already begun; the poems have already been written, and some already read. And there will be no climax, no epiphany at the right moment, and no ending or denouement. As much as the poetry has been crafted, placed-traced-and-erased,  10  A Poetic Pedagogy  because each word holds a history of infinite facets, I can not hope to contain a story in any amount of words. With each word the poetry shifts, its meaning likewise, and with every change of sign and signifier the story as a definitive work is destabilized. At the same time, because each word holds a history of infinite facets, everything depends on the words. Somewhere between sign and signifier grows an intertextual relationship which has already been given. In this profound mystery are profound possibilities, that at the very moment of knowing, there is both in-sight and mystery. As an 7  inquiry, my autobiography is a less travelled path where the underbrush prevents firm footing. There are times when I've crawled on my belly, longing for a sense of a single, prescribed path, but have found no proper way. Instead, there are these "unexpected  The hyphenated "in-sight" is meant to represent the tension between those who see and those who are blind. This tension celebrates the fact that the blind can receive their sight, and recognizes that the seeing sometimes stumble. Like the blind boy who follows his guide, in Coleridge's poem "Time, Real, and Imaginary," I find it difficult to know whether truth is here or whether it has passed, whether I am first or last. 7  A Poetic Pedagogy  11  happenings," and despite their seeming irrelevance they generate meaning, for everything of which I speak is reflected in the particularities of the words, therefore, each word bears a resemblance of the whole. My poetic reflections are "songs" not about the profession of a Christian English teacher, rather, in naked simplicity, they are breaths of life, in which I am a pedagogue as prophet, priest, and king called specifically to teaching as a vocation.  9  Of course, there are even spaces between the voices of the prophet, priest, and king, but living in tension between them, I have come to appreciate these spaces as breathing places. The poetry, then, as a series of breaths is confessional and existential. The breathing itself reverberates in such a way that it renews our understanding of teaching.  8  Jardine, David. (1994). Speaking With a Boneless Tongue. Bragg Creek, A B : Mayko  Press. Aoki, Ted and Mohammed Shamsher, eds. (1993). The Call of Teaching. The British Columbia Teacher's Federation Program for Quality Teaching, p. 1. 9  12  A Poetic Pedagogy  Back into Mystery With Mary's Anticipation  10  Waiting for Immanuel at my convenience I am waiting for truth to truly crown a revolution 11  Waiting for revelation too my affectation to pray abba God's familiarity for bottled confidence to swallow ink without guilt Waiting for messiah for understanding to come knocking peace to mask me I am waiting for a phone Unlike her husband Joseph, Mary immediately accepted the angel's announcement of her conception. Her anticipation, her waiting on a spiritual hope, led her to be "blessed among women." Such anticipation made her fruitful, ripe for renewal. 10  It is a modernist conception to wait for a measured length of time. But in poetry, in life, in order to understand, we must wait until something happens. Everything depends on it (Psalm 123). 11  13  A Poetic Pedagogy  call from inspiration to grow up, out old - in - between the eventual surrender of my breath  In greater or lesser degrees of sophistication, an increasing number of educators are already examining the spiritual significance of English pedagogy.  There is a growing anticipation for  12  immanuel,  13  and with these fresh avenues for inquiry open, the point  of my re-search is to explore further what a 14  spiritual  English  pedagogy itself entails, particularly, staying open to the lived 15  Berthoff, Anne. (1994). "Interchanges: Composition and Communication. 45(2), p.287. 12  Spiritual Sites of Composing." College  Immanuel, strictly speaking, means "God with us," but initially was a sign of promise to King Ahaz (Isa. 7:14), and with time became a promise of future glory. Hence, Immanuel is a word of anticipation, enlivening the notion of "God with us," the eschatology of prophet, priest, and king. 13  Over the course of my inquiry, the distinction between re-search and research has made all the difference. While research goes back to examine, re-search goes down into the flesh of life. M y intent, throughout this inquiry, was to be open to the possibility that meaning would be constituted with the lived experience. 14  In textuality, pedagogy and spirituality often mix. However, in Dissemination Derrida rightly notes there can be no "theology of the text" (p.258) because the text is the trace which escapes onto-theological closure (closure of the "volume," of the "work") even as it inscribes 15  14  A Poetic Pedagogy  experience, which in turn leads to deeper understandings. It will 16  be my central purpose to re-search (through poetry) my existential experience of English pedagogy; namely, "playing out" the notes of the prophet, priest, and kingly voices. Thus, my poetic reflections, though "mere" songs, will not only contribute to our knowledge of 17  English teaching and the curriculum, but also will anticipate a fuller, more phenomenological understanding of spirituality and education inter-related as a source of possibility. Indeed, only by raising spirituality to explicit, reflective consciousness can we begin to 18  understand the existential bases that make knowing possible. In order to foster thoughtful reflection, I began in the midst of tensionality between what I was experiencing as a Christian English teacher and what I hoped was the possibility of moving beyond my it.  Lived experience does not come under the too binding strictures of logic. Unlike Socrates, I do not presume to be mortal simply because the premises are true. Lived experience does not exclude logic but enriches it; lived experience leaves open the possibility of exceptions, and amidst its feeling and passion plumbs the depths of language, existence, and truth. 16  M y inquiry does not add to a body of knowledge but disturbs it. A disturbance is a contribution because it puts things into motion, into play. 17  18  Earle, W . (1977). Autobiographical Consciousness. Chicago: Chicago University Press.  15  A Poetic Pedagogy  present experience through understanding it. For this reason, my poetic autobiography is an emerging interpretive inquiry. It is not so much a searching for answers but an anticipation of the questions of who I am becoming and to which pedagogical spaces I belong.  19  Often, the interplay between the aforementioned questions calls more questions into being, and keeping these ideas constantly in play, constantly combining and recombining them in provocative new ways, is the emerging nature of this inquiry. In other words, I acknowledge "the hermeneutical priority of the question."  20  This poetical autobiography is not a narcissistic inquiry. But, remaining in touch with the earth, it is like the story of Antaeus, who was only killed when Hercules suspended him in the air. As Gunn (1982) puts it, "understood as the story of Antaeus, the real question of the autobiographical self then becomes where do I belong? not, who am I? The question of the self's identity becomes the question of the self's location in a world" (p. 23). 19  Aoki, Ted. (1994). Course Lecture. Modern Languages 508b. University of British Columbia. 2 0  A Poetic Pedagogy  16  Morphemic Questioning I dance in mist whirling in word dream through forests of weeping voices feeling the call of my distant heart a thousand stars away whispering I dance in wordlight dazzling in the ocean's waves like a blazing multitude of questioners with kisses of fleeting summer laughing at the wild wind caress upon my face I am the wild babbled word hiding on the world's merry lips the drunken breath of song and question that haunts the writer's pen the half-remembered hint of silken fancy that is the time of waking For me, nothing is more hermeneutic than journal writing: a process in which poetry, quotations, promises, events, and reactions are all part of the emerging questions. Journaling is a powerful process. Through it I have become alertly conscious of the difficulty and fortune of living in the tensions of questions. Difficult because in  17  A Poetic Pedagogy  "tension" the point of every word slips, and with each slip a shift 21  in meaning, and with each shift a change in being. But fortunate because this seeming lack of sign and signification is also the greatest potential for exploration; at this point of autobiographical risk is 22  the greatest potential for self-discovery. And so amidst turnings and returnings, my journalings (graphein)  have opened me to the possibility that within my 23  bios  there unfolds layers of meanings—not gradually, as if by predetermined necessity I could uncover and contextualize lived  The tension is both intentional and unintentional, both at a specific point and at every point of a given word. 2 1  Various poststructuralists (including Derrida, Barthes, and Michel Foucault) have exposed and challenged presuppositions concerning traditional understandings of "text." The notion that each text contains a single meaning has been abandoned, and the question of reference—the connection between text and reality—is exactly my source of exploration. 2 2  Remaining open is the autos of autobiography. What does it mean? For Robert Graham, it is self-confession, dwelling in the depths, in the inner-most portion of the soul. But for me it is something more; like Jardine, I find that remaining open is to create a place for renewal: 2 3  Hermeneutics cannot be deeply understood through a historical, linguistic, and cultural interpretation... [this is] dusty and deadened talk. [Being open] is hoping for the reenlivenment of human life (Jardine, 1994, p.121).  18  A Poetic Pedagogy  meanings within the re-search experience —but sporadically, each 24  original layer being a "re" enlivenment of an initial discovery that has always been. For in rereading the life-text of my journal, I do not 25  relive memories (owing a debt to the past), but "in-liven" them (redeeming all debts to the past).  26  While renewal grows from amidst the voices and questions of my own life-text, it also grows from another's, indeed many others. Consider, for example, the encouraging pen of Ted Aoki 27  Traditionally, phenomenologists have searched for some invisible, underlying strata which allows us to "uncover" or "disclose" meaning. But a language of phenomenological uncovering is in itself deadened talk—for it leaves no room for renewal. To suppose that by digging deep enough the essentials will become clear, is to put a "bottom" or "boundary" on renewal. In my inquiry I have found no bottom, simply layers. 2 4  A layered view of life exposes temporal notions that life is simply a process. In my inquiry, autobiography has taken on the special function of destabilizing the prevailing idea that through time an individual develops toward a certain end. 2 5  2 6  Jardine, David. (1992). "Reflections on Education, Hermeneutics, and Ambiguity." In  Understanding Curriculum as Deconstructed and Phenomenological Text. New York: Teachers  College Press. I use the words owe, debt, and redeem (to buy back) to contrast my understanding of "intertextual" with traditional understandings of text ownership. Traditionally, meaning is enclosed in textual law which authenticates my property, delimits my rights and obligations in relation to the writing, and establishes textual legitimacy, the possibility of a proper reading. But to say I author this inquiry's origin and therefore own its meaning is to limit meaning to an object of my own power—meaning is certainly much more^elusive. It is more forthright to think of texts and inquiry as "intertextual," where there are no authors, no owners, and no place of origin. Any work, then, becomes a union of intention and already-present ideas—a union which 27  A Poetic Pedagogy  19  breathing life into the folds and margins of this text: In these pages are your thoughts in fragility, being shaped this way and that. This, I suggest, is your thesis in animated becoming (July, 1994). Or Carl Leggo: This is my suggestion... it needs more explanation... interesting... good... what does this refer to... why the capital...why the dash...seems awkward...dwell with it a little more (July, 1995). The other voices of my writing and rewriting have not simply guided me to better expression, getting at an essence of meaning hidden in the folds, but through reflective revisiting have brought meaning to the folds. The thread of my inquiry is interwoven with the marginal—while some afford to dismiss the marginal as scribbling in the fold or superfluous notes—I exist in them and of them; and 28  therefore, take note: do not look for findings, the results of my research. Instead, be prepared (or rather, be unprepared: in many cannot be undone. For as the proverb says, "there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Such a way of positing the pedagogical landscape displaces the modernist habit of separating Christianity and Education. 2 8  20  A Poetic Pedagogy  places it will be helpful to have no baggage) to be lost in the folds, in the unexpected turns and shifts; as Jardine notes, there is nothing above and beyond to set the direction or mark out the boundaries: The author of the text whom you might presume knows best what the whole thing is about. This is a presumption.. .the presumption that there is someone left over, over and above.. .who might save us from the traps and pitfalls, someone who has everything under control. 29  And when lost, do not search a way out, but enjoy (or better, play with) the difficulty of the new environment. For though difficult, only by playing a part (or yielding to) the "playing out" of the notes is 30  it possible to explore the many productive tensions between Christianity and Education. Which is to create a space for the 31  29  Jardine, David. (1994). Speaking With a Boneless Tongue. Bragg Creek, A B : Mayko  Press. Many turn their play into work, so that even in recreation, goals, achievements, and timelines become controlling motivations. This is unfortunate: "In order to think of play in a radical way...one must think beyond the activity of a subject manipulating objects" (Derrida, 1988, p. 69). For Derrida, "play is not fixed in finite discourse...or subjective intent: it happens, irresistibly" (Derrida, 1988, p. 69). In other words, when reading do not play as if it were the way out, the answer itself (for this, too, turns play to work), rather, play without intent—be played on—and the work of reading will become play. 30  Being grounded in a metaphysics of presence, the traditional orientations of Christianity and Education are still driven by a noun view of identity. But if we heed Deleuze (1987), that "multiplicity grows in the middle" (p. viii), then we must renew our understandings of noun31  21  A Poetic Pedagogy  pedagogical "prophet, priest, and king" to erupt as something n e w  32  from within layers and textures of my autobiography. Thus, this emerging inquiry is beyond finding meaning in the experience, as i f my prophet, priest, and king identity were a preexistent presence—a presence that can be re-presented with careful scrutiny and copied. It is rather, through the poetry of.my journal, the creation of new meaning through rewriting, of "the call of teaching"  34  33  that my understanding  is enhanced.  oriented, word oriented, and thing oriented identities. To do so is to live amidst differences, anticipating the eruption of something new while standing in a position of flux. 32  Jardine, David. (1994). Speaking With a Boneless Tongue. Bragg Creek, Alberta: Mayko  Press. Rewriting one's experiences is akin to Daignault's (1992) notion of misreading experiences in the writing (p. 196-197). Misreading is not a mistake but a creation. With the . modernist notions of author and authority contested, being lost (mentioned above), not understanding, and misreading are now not just legitimate responses to text, but preferred ones. It is the preference for life over death, for renewal over stagnancy. While a restricted reading reduces, a misreading creates possibility. Thus, when I read my journals (miswritings in themselves) I am misreading them, in other words, rewriting them, "playing out" new meanings. 3 3  Aoki Ted and Mohammed Shamsher. (1993). The Call of Teaching. The British Columbia Teacher's Federation Program for Quality Teaching, p. 1-2. 34  22  A Poetic Pedagogy  Seen It All and Bought the T-Shirt I opened my journal and a hummingbird flew out believe me I have two-degrees take it from me I've seen in threes I am a witness and measure of life at its best I opened the Red Sea as Moses believe me there aren't ten commandments there are really three I am a witness and measure of life at 1. nothing signifies  2. 3.  Does it matter if I'm Moses?  35  In Calvino's (1981) postmodern novel, If on a Winter's Night a Traveller (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich) there is a character named Irnerio. Irnerio refuses to read, yet does not refuse to look at written words: he has learned how to see strange ink marks on pages where others see words. Irnerio is beyond reading; for him the books, pages, and words are no longer the transparent vehicles for immaterial ideas: 35  I've become so accustomed to not reading that I don't even read what appears before my eyes. It's not easy: they teach us to read as children, and for the rest of our lives we remain the slaves of all the written stuff they fling in front of us. . . . The secret is not refusing to look at the written words. On the contrary, you must look at them, intensely, until they disappear (49).  A Poetic Pedagogy  23  And yet I wonder if this ontological re-flective journaling is by accident/Exploring my own personal pedagogical experiences in my journaling is definitely exhilarating, but as an interpretative researcher I'm realizing that in this searching and re-searching, understanding is not so much dependent on my own efforts, but rather something I fall into—almost in the sense of being led or being called, a sort of inspiriting not unlike the directing breath of a muse, only in this case the muse has invoked the writer. The written words eventually "disappear"—they disintegrate into not-quite-letters, shapes of darkness on the white page. The words disappear into sheer materiality because .Irnerio looks at them, at the physical marks themselves, and not at what they mean. The text is not altered physically, but loses signifying potential. Ceasing to be filled with what the philosopher Gottlob Frege called "sense," the text becomes nonsensical. The printed words return to what Julia Kristeva calls the semiotic. To speak of such texts as more-or-less accurate copies of an ideal, transcendent original is impossible. For the reader, the word is caught in a tension—a tension which cannot be maintained, but only imagined as a midpoint between two extremes. When either of the differences which make signification possible—differences between signifiers, or differences between signifieds—are foregrounded (when they become visible), the word disappears. For those who know how to read—and this includes non-readers such as Irnerio—one component or the other must be foregrounded. Unlike Irnerio, readers choose to foreground the signified: the concepts, feelings, and other representations derived from reading. To foreground the material signifier of writing rather than its signified meaning, as Irnerio does, seems ludicrous and irresponsible to us—it goes against the grain. Even as I began my inquiry, the meaning of the words too quickly dominated the physical text. I only wrote what the written words "said," and what I rewrote was the idea within the word. Unfortunately, in this kind of writing the materiality of the words obscured my ideas. I needed to conceptualize beyond the concrete marks that made up words and sentences, to "see" meanings or ideas, to hear the language with my mind's ear. Only then did rewriting prophet, priest, and king become hermeneutic experience, enough so that the materiality of writing no longer obstructed the inevitable, almost invisible, playing out of meaning.  24  A Poetic Pedagogy  What Is the It It follows every night It's before every moon It brings light and a little dew Therefore, my excitement should not be mistaken for expertise. Certainly, the powerful nature of this process necessarily means that it is elusive. In the journal writing, fragments of lived experience 36  have simultaneously formed themes or voices which only  gradually  constitute meaning and provide coherence to this act of formal inquiry.  37  For this reason, my thesis has a polysome nature,  resounding with many voices  38  which do not often blend in  The traditional understanding of the text (that within the text itself there hides an accessible meaning) assures us that there are guarantees which lessen the difficulties and overcome the dangers in transmission of meaning. These guarantees are provided by rigorous critical techniques, often historical, which claim to provide ways to bridge the gap between text and reality. But they in no way capture meaning and thereby close the circle of understanding. For certainly, such analysis is not only impossible but undesirable. It is a "blindness" to suppose that with proper use of the techniques a scientific consensus of meaning can be reached. 3 6  Derrida, Jacques. (1976). Of Grammatology. Translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1976. 37  Logos, traditionally interpreted as "The Word" in Christian literature, has also meant "voice" in classical Greek. 38  A Poetic Pedagogy  25  harmony. In this way meaning is simultaneously destabilized and 39  built up—for as the many voices become one voice, so the one instantly becomes many. The voices, the ones so far identified, are that of prophet, priest, and king. They are the voices which have written this poetry, voices which have insistently called from many deeper and deeper layers within my own vocation.  Ted Aoki often uses the analogy of the Bach fugue: where a "polyphony of voices are in a tensionality of counterpuntal interplay, a tensionality of differences." 3 9  T h e of  W e a v i n g a  V o c a t i o n  27  A Poetic Pedagogy  Eschatological Relations: Inter-Contextualizing the Voices It is Not Growing Like a Tree  40  Standing straight I am tired, I ache and through each fibre I feel pain, strong and yet fragile 41  I am ancient words my truths delve deep I have many stories wisdom never bowing straight, silent through But I grow weary with age under age I come to the last page the time growing late I am tired of standing straight  This title from Ben Jonson reminds me that life, truth, and passion cannot grow like a tree. In contrast to George Herbert who characterized the ideal as a tree that had survived many ages, Jonson shows us a lily. Throughout this inquiry I have come to agree with Jonson: life is made of many lilies, each one to be lived shortly, fully, and therefore perfectly. 4 0  The Hebrew word tsadiq, often translated "righteous," means to walk straightly or uprightly. To have no sin is to have no bias, deviating neither to the left nor to the right. Hence the cry, "the road is straight and narrow." 41  A Poetic Pedagogy  28  The word "prophet" undoubtedly conjures up Old Testament images of foretelling the future and thundering down doom and denunciation.  42  This is a very inadequate representation of the  emerging voice of the prophet in my pedagogy. The label itself is very slippery; though giving a physical image to my voice, it is not 43  a one-word summary of occupation or being; and it is not a title meant to represent patriarchal virtue or deeds; rather, the pedagogy of the prophet voice brings renewed appreciation for words, examining voices and questions left too long unexamined, and testifying to the given nature of meaning-in-words and to the ecstasy of being controlled by such. Being controlled or inspired, the prophet is responsibly entrusted with the word, and so while the prophet voice, by nature, cherishes and savours words with a rich fullness, it  The prophet discourse will not unfold like a tree, with its deep-rooted truths and dominant center. Instead, the discourse is in constant motion. As life is alive with contradictions, providing in-between-spaces vibrant with possibilities for understanding, so the prophet discourse is interwoven, multiplicit, irresolvable. In Hebrew there are three words for prophet, two of which are translated seer: the word roeh and the word chozeh. Both of these terms have some connection with the means whereby the message of knowledge is communicated by word, by dream, and by vision. But the most common word for prophet is nabi, its root having suggestions of bubbling over with ecstasy. 4 3  A Poetic Pedagogy  29  also responsibly upholds the sacred roots of word-making, wordgiving, even word-playing. Similarly, "priest" is a slippery label, scarcely sufficient enough to name the second compelling voice in my journal. It is also a highly contested label. In some circles, to give credence to a priestly voice is blasphemy, while in others it is the unexamined talk of religiosity. And yet, it is a significant label, meaningful in its listening and loving characteristics; for the priestly voice continually underlines the real humanity of pedagogy while simultaneously suggesting something which is holy and sacred,  Pontifex  -  In the midst of cold, impatient darkness and blaring headlights I stop to listen; begin a process of acceptance The Latin word for priest is  pontifex,  which means bridge-  A Poetic Pedagogy  30  builder. In reaching a deeper understanding of the priestly voice, a closer consideration of the role of bridging may be helpful. Aoki speaks of bridges as "dwelling places for people." In some sense 44  then, the pedagogy of priest as bridge-builder, is to provide a dwelling place. In creating this dwelling place, the priest acts as a bridge between the many layers of being between teacher and students. It allows them to dwell-together in the "live-between." Our common sense understanding is often a "connecting" of two separate, preexisting entities. Such an understanding would be too hurried, covering over a richer meaning held within the experience of dwelling together. Heidegger, in his discussion of bridges, opens for consideration the idea that bridges allow the coming into being of the banks across which they span. [The bridge] does not just connect banks that are already there. The banks emerge as banks only as the bridge crosses the stream. 45  4 4  Aoki, T. (1991). Inspiriting Curriculum and Pedagogy: Talks to Teachers. Alberta:  University of Alberta Printing Services. 4 5  Heidegger, M . (1977). Bolin, F . and McConnell Falk, J. Eds. The Vocation of Teaching:  Teaching Renewal, Professional Issues, Personal Choices. New York: Teachers College Press.  31  A Poetic Pedagogy  If the bridge brings into being the banks, the priest facilitates the coming into being of students and teachers. Such an understanding calls for the consideration of the relationship between teacher and students in a different way. Perhaps in the absence of a priestly pedagogy, there is no teacher or students. The third voice is kingly. It speaks of the nature and meaning of the kingdom, the role of the king in living "forwardly," and the 46  tension between present and future realities. It is not an ordinary voice, and of the three it is most difficult to reconcile with those who have deconstructed Western notions of authority, rule, and sovereignty. But, to those that hear it, the kingly voice lives with and talks with servitude.  -  After the establishment of the monarch, the Old Testament people of God recognized three special offices: those of prophet, priest, and king. The coming redeemer was expected to be the culmination and fulfillment of all three of these special offices. He was to be a great prophet (Deut. 18:15). He was to be an everlasting priest (Ps. 110:4). He was also to be the great king of his people (Zech. 9:9). 4 6  A Poetic Pedagogy  32  Ozymandias Signs At my service Dewey J. Elliot anything but perky behind the chipped critics the plastic and peeling gives me a lifeless smile the layers of makeup My copy he takes it signs it hands it back and says, "I used to be" and the sun shines in reveals the many grey hairs eyes bloodshot hands lined with wrinkles filled with spots the colour of coffee so I reach out, "you still are" The king is not a demigod figure, and receives such a label only because of the eschatological nature of the paradox: the first  33  A Poetic Pedagogy  shall be last; the least, greatest; the weak, strong. For this reason, in the poem, "Ozymandias Signs," though Dewey J. Elliot seems to have lost his position of authority—not even having the power to act out his wishes—his service upholds him. Thus, while Kings who do not serve are temporary, those who do serve remain "kingly," even when 47  "lined with wrinkles/ filled with spots/ the colour of coffee." The "servant" comes with a great history. The Old Testament figures of Moses, Elijah, David, and Job are among the few who receive the honour of being given such a title. Through these figures, what emerges as the pedagogy of the servant-king is a suffering obedience that brings liberation to those being served. Undoubtedly, this conception is paradoxical and mysterious. There is a challenging task to being gentle, tender, unobtrusive. [The servant] will not cry out nor raise his voice to make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not snuff out. 48  Consider Macbeth who stole his kingship thinking that power in itself would satisfy. But conceived in that way, power is strangely elusive. Power is realized through service. Lacking such heart, Macbeth's power was temporary, and he eventually despised it— preferring Banquo's long line of kingship, he tried to steal it as well. 4 7  4 8  Author's Translation. Isaiah 42:2-3.  34  A Poetic Pedagogy  The unbroken reed and still burning wick represent the possibility of this kingly pedagogy, which is to say power or empowerment.  49  Even when goodness is weak, and even when its flame is almost dead, the king will not crush, but will gently and tenderly nurture. Yet for all this gentleness and tenderness there is a fixity of purpose and strength of character in which there is no discouragement or defeat. Together, the voices of prophet, priest, and king emphasize the spiritual practicality of teaching practice. Practical, because these voices guide my daily unfolding of the language of the classroom. And spiritual, because as a prophet, priest, and king, I think of language as a gift—I receive it without having to ask. For" all 50  teachers, how we receive and respond to language, whether we have  Originally empower meant "to give power to." But in Middle French, power meant "possibilite." To empower someone, then, is to offer a gift of possibilities. A n empowered teacher empowers others—allows others to open up possibilities. In a subtle sense, then, to listen is to be a king, is to withdraw in order to allow the opening up of a space so children's voices can enter and be heard. To be attuned is to be empowered. 4 9  Language is gift because we receive it, a spiritual gift because it inspires; language blows through us and in us. In a sense language inspirits or inbreathes; like Shelley's "Wild West Wind" language is a mighty harmony, an incantation, a trumpet of prophecy! 5 0  A Poetic Pedagogy  35  the hermeneutic attitude to continually listen with anticipation, will always be the calling before us. Certainly, many will find it hard to accept that reconstruction of sacred material can possibly or inevitably emerge in the language of teaching, but we must make room for this interpretation. As Jardine says, we cannot pin down the word, "for if we attempt to do so, the word will rise again." He goes on, 51  At its birth, the living Word was told that there was no room. The living Word had to be born right out in the middle of things, and it was such a birth that made it not only part of what already was but also a heralding of the new, of renewals, the possibility of life. Providing room, receiving the gift in thanksgiving is always an appropriate response, but our listening, our remaining open to, I sense, must always come first.  51  Jardine, David. (1992). "Reflections on Education, Hermeneutics, and Ambiguity." In  Understanding Curriculum as Deconstructed and Phenomenological Text. New York: Teachers  College Press, p. 120.  36  A Poetic Pedagogy  S o m e t h i n g  U n e x p e c t e d  "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined." "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" "Who am I that I should go?" "I will be with you." "Please send someone else to do it."  (Isaiah 6:5,8; Exodus 3:11,14;4:13) I Wish I'd Said Yes, Even Though I Agreed I was young and overlooked our eccentric essential I wish now... tomorrow I buy a daybook two hundred pages of bleached paper I feel white, I do not look good in white to play we used to weave stories in summer sandboxes: friends forever, I didn't understand forever. I think I lied... tomorrow I call the roll two hundred students of bleached faces I feel white, I do not look good in white  A Poetic Pedagogy  The Weaver I laugh with the excitement of causal conception the weather is changing but I am finally pregnant quickly, I return to my journal Then I tell of the "Indian thread" strangely eternal put in my loom last night: how erasers woven into the smell of winter with no introductions just the winding of vowels splinting my insides blood mysteries from the loom  37  A Poetic Pedagogy  38  The Call of Vocation (Researcher's Journal, January 1994) / think of myself as a sensible person, not someone who hears voices, or follows them, but prophet, priest, and king sounded so loud and clear and came from such a deep place in me, that it seemed like the voice of a stranger.  A note of direction: the calling voices of prophet, priest, and king are destabilized in intertextual relationship. Like in the text of quilting, the relationship of the part to the whole, the proportion, 52  the way the inner and outer border react with each other is a balancing act between tension and harmony. In other words, though one whole, my voices (though individual) are not distinguished individually; rather these voices poetically celebrate openness, questioning and promoting change and deconstructing stagnating  Reading Sue Bender's (1989) Plain and Simple, a story of Amish quiltmaking, I understood the relationship of quilting and writing. The quilts spoke so that I felt them reaching out, trying to tell me something: 5 2  Colors of such depth and warmth were combined in ways I had never seen before. At first the colors looked sombre, but then—looking closely at a large field of brown—I discovered that it was really made up of small patches of many different shades and textures of colour. Greys and shiny dark and dull light brown, dancing side by side, made the flat surface come alive. Lush greens lay beside vivid reds (57).  39  A Poetic Pedagogy  presuppositions, all to an expansive realm of possibility to create a space from where I might open my understanding of living: this is no accident. It is my hermeneutic and vocational quest. These voices promoting change are a means to facilitate not fixed meanings but new meanings. It is not only a method of research, but of living and writing, involving, argues Jardine, the adoption of "hermeneutic attitudes," a sort of "living in interrelations" way of thinking, that inevitably results in the regeneration of 53  different, but no less difficult, questions about the nature of being, and in my case, the nature of Christian pedagogy. But this means that traditional value positions within Christian pedagogy will fluctuate in a stream of divergent and convergent meanings, sometimes familiar, sometimes conflicting, and sometimes flowing in unexpected ways. Even now, interwoven within my own voices of prophet, priest, and king, is Jardine's voice bearing 54  5 3  Jardine, David. (1994). Speaking With a Boneless Tongue. Bragg Creek, A B : Mayko  Press. 5 4  As Derrida would have it, all the persons named have helped write this work.  40  A Poetic Pedagogy  witness to what might be the reflowing of Christian pedagogy: There is no centre of foundation to this web of living interconnections, just small, lateral, interlacing relations of this to this, splayed in moving patterns of kinship and kind. 55  In this way of thinking, or rather in this "unenclosable strategy of abyss," what is constructed may seem unduly enigmatic or painful, 56  but by risking "getting lost," what inevitably emerges is both 57  implicating and powerful.  The Long Tongue of Water The rivulet follows a vein of stream and stratum in a spill of sweet pebbled vowels humming over and over in the smooth, long tongue of water The fingers of itsflowingspread flat, slowly lull over a fist of limestone as if to absorb the fragrance of its 5 5  Jardine, David. (1994). Speaking With a Boneless Tongue. Bragg Creek, A B : Mayko  Press. 5 6  Neel, Jasper. (1988). Plato, Derrida, Writing. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University  Press. 57  Press.  Jardine, David. (1994). Speaking With a Boneless Tongue. Bragg Creek, A B : Mayko  41  A Poetic Pedagogy  coarse, grey skin smoothing over And over the hand of liquid glass seeks a shape to become washes and washes for a palm to sing to plain-spoken now A boastful bowl of sputter and swell inflated with the warm of rain and light from original beginnings to the main stream, the largest belly of blue There it is taking frothing the huge white mouth of water meeting water  Candid Preparations Researcher's Journal, January 1994 / don't know why but I trust the voice. Still, what is the plan ? What is the purpose of this searching? The mysterious anonymity scares me. What if it leads me off on a path I haven't planned? 59  At this point in my re-search I was like Voltaire's Candide—with each step I felt more lost and therefore more pessimistic. 58  5 9  I didn't realize that these were questions I was asking about my life.  A Poetic Pedagogy  42  I Saw the Craters in the Moon Last Night I stood there hunched in the night, squinting into the powdered bone sockets of the moon, until the strange feeling crept over me that were I to turn the lens upon that tree across the street I would see its branches barren of leaves laden with snow in July I straightened up hastily and went inside  <.  !  A P r o p h e t in t h e M i d s t of P e d a g o g y  44  A Poetic Pedagogy  A Crisis in Identity "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see...A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet" (Matt. 11: 7-9).  Essentially I thought about you today joined— [I] wonder who are you in me living a puzzle in pieces placed deliberatedly in unOther in-tension-ally too together— kissing yet you were quite absent nonexisting and what may sound like a love poem father-mother unparented patriarchal other is only simply pondering Peniel- upon that joint in the hip wrenched [I] have made numerous attempts to make an incision inside you to simply cut and make you a new being forgetting that you are just as part of my hip and we kiss, hating mere pain never forgetting change please hush now as [I] recuperate leaving you alone to question  A Poetic Pedagogy  45  "Individualism has always been ambiguous. Now, at last, it is becoming questionable." 6 0  The prophet pedagogy begins with a key aspect of postmodernity: questions of identity and belonging. Like the many other autobiographical quests for self, this discourse begins with the "I," the essentialist subject, the "I think therefore I am" mode of modernity. The "I" represents attempts to frame or define "the prophet." But though definition may be useful to my theory, the language of practice denies definition because of the emerging nuances and subtleties which cannot be placed. As Kondo notes, Identity is not a fixed 'thing'; it is negotiated, open, shifting, ambiguous, the result of culturally available meanings and the open-ended, power-laden enactments of those meanings in everyday situations. 61  Albert Borgmann, cb. Aoki, Ted (1994). Individualism:, Born in Violence? Breeding Violence. A Curriculum Symposium. June, 1994. Kondo, Dianne. (1990). Crafting Selves: Power, Gender, and Discourses of Identity in  a Japanese Workplace. Chicago: University of Chicago, p. 23.  A Poetic Pedagogy  A Twist of Sour Self When the sun does not rise and the clouds blanket the sky [I] dance with lemons it's an illness a sour defiance of an unsound mind [I] am the seed of a sour time  46  A Poetic Pedagogy  Looking at Myself [I] saw a madman crawling under-moon hunched on fours an angry twisting socket of darkness [I] had seen him before scratching his way into my dreams his wretched face suspended in animation [I] tried to file him in last year's pro "d" notes where I put plinkets I don't wish to recall [I] would not die or be silenced or forgotten as uncontrollable as the chaos as the dark from which I sprang [I] elbowed for acknowledgement  47  A Poetic Pedagogy  48  The "I" in the midst of square brackets is a prophetic voice suggesting that much is unbalanced and that the center does not 62  hold. However it is heard, it does not intend or guarantee the 63  soundness of its "calling." Instead the voice is wildly unsound, knowing that it is virtually impossible to assume the rationality or fixity of the self. It has no answers—it is of unsound mind. Admitting in this quest "the impossibility of claiming an origin of the self,"  64  however, is not defeatist or nihilistic, for there is a searching question that offers promise.  In the Republic, Plato argues that "illness" and an "unsound" mind result from an unbalanced soul. The cure is to order one's soul according to inherent, hierarchial principles (trans. Robin Waterfield, 1993, pp. 36-48). By contrast, I do not offer a cure; for whenever I take a long look inward, I realize the impossibility of an "ordered," "original" self. This puts me in perpetual crisis, for within lurks an illegimate madman. 62  Yeats, William Butler. (1921). "The Second Coming." In British and American Poets: Chaucer to the Present. Eds. Bate, Jackson and Perkins, David. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, p.640. 63  Bhabha, Homi. (1987). "Interrogating Identity." Identity: The Real Me. I C A Documents 6, LondomTnstitute of Contemporary Arts. pp. 5-11. 64  A Poetic Pedagogy  49  Dandelions who is the old woman who lives down the street who wears dandelions in her hair without fail, each morn as dawn breaks she's in her patch work garden picking her dandelions she arranges them carefully in her silver strands and as she finishes, her burnished, withered cheeks lift upward what we spurn the tangle-mass of leaves as worthless weeds give this women a lovely splash of lemon "/" is only a convenient term for somebody who has no real being.  Woolf, Virginia. (1992/1929). A Room of One's Own. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  A Poetic Pedagogy  50  The resounding "who" in the first lines of "Dandelions" is not a question of "who am I?" for like pieces in a puzzle, there are many selves caught in a flux of time and space. To ask "who am I" 66  leaves the selves in pieces. Instead, it is the question "who is in meV which offers the potential for a kind wholeness. According to 67  Aoki, "Who we are as teachers...are ongoing effects of our becomings in difference." In other words, to construct who we are 68  is necessary and vital, but we must realize that what is constructed always already gives way to deconstruction. Therefore, actually achieving a unified or balanced self makes little difference, for the 69  ongoing process of construction-deconstruction-reconstruction is not so much a crisis in identity as it is a creation, and a creation which brings vitality and wholeness.  6 6  A n individual becomes in-dividual, in division, never becoming a self-sufficient unity.  Woven within the prophet text is a plurality of selves. There is no "Self" because the very principle of identity is properly unknown (mentioned below). 67  6 8  Aoki, Ted. (1993). The Call of Teaching. British Columbia Teachers Federation.  Unity is "too together," something willed by the subject rather than something of ongoing process. 69  A Poetic Pedagogy  Crisis  51  7 0  "A moment of crisis is a moment when something has crumbled, something is rejected, but it is also the moment when new sources appear." 71  Spirit of the living God fall fresh on me make me, mold me melt me, fill me use me In Chapters twenty-five to thirty-two of Genesis there is a story of Jacob, the grabber, a man without scruples or integrity. For the first years of his life he is a "self-willed" identity, achieving status through deception. At a point of physical and spiritual crisis in life he wrestles with God, and in the struggle God touches Jacob's hip, wrenching it from its socket. Grabbing hold of God, in weakness for the first time, Jacob begs a blessing. God blesses him, changing his name to Israel. The old Jacob is crumbled and the new Israel appears. In his heart Jacob recognizes the significance of this moment so he  7 0  These are lyrics to a song I was taught at Keats Camp, Keats Island, B . C .  Clark , Suzanne, and Kathleen Hulley. (1991). "An Interview with Julia Kristeva: Cultural Strangeness and the Subject in Crisis." Discourse. 13(1) Fall-Winter, p. 168. 71  A Poetic Pedagogy  52  names the place Peniel, meaning the face of God. This genesis narrative teaches me that crisis is hopeful, necessary for renewal and for usefulness. For the prophet, the identity crisis mentioned above is probably best understood as identity in crisis, or in other words, crisis built into identity. Crisis is stepping out in faith according to God's terms. ".. .He that has begun a good work in you will carry it out to completion" (Phil 1:6).  This crisis motivates and continues to motivate a search and research for answers, a still wanting of an intimate knowledge of who exactly the prophet is. In one sense, I feel like I am in a position to provide the answers. Am I not the one who has done the research? Can I not now present my findings of prophet and pedagogy? But Kristeva's advice is to become comfortable in crisis, to view crisis with optimism, for a too quick or forced resolution is a self-willed notion of identity.  A Poetic Pedagogy  Truth too Private Paint me plastic publicity pout and draw the curtain You'll never keep the lookers out their cigar smoke eyes and quick-snap flashes faces a blur, of bedsheet flamesadoration ashes Of pleas and crumpled obsession headless bodies—waxen runway appeal is all you bend before My plastered face a stainless billboard of steamcurve smooth and satin eyes on shimmergray screens that keep me old, and sweet and fresh  53  A Poetic Pedagogy  The Never Never Show a small misunderstanding a ripped paper piece containing unreached dreams and brok en promises in the dark a child's sticky hand held out holding hoping security not knowing to be alone is all there is and not enough now again the light is on, a ripped piece of paper shows hidden hurts making the room darker and solemn dreams unknown a ripped paper piece that should never have been shown  54  55  A Poetic Pedagogy  Answers, resolutions, findings: these are all slippery words. I liken it to the metaphor of translation. The "trans" in translation 72  suggests a continuing movement, that in fact translations are not fixed; they are imperfect copies. Whether moving from one language to another, from writer to reader, or even within the text itself, too often the subtleties of intention and voice and what is unsaid cannot be fully represented. In the language of poststructuralism we say there is a gap between the signifier and the signified; like text, individuality is untranslatable, profoundly unresolved. Clearly identity, self, and belonging are difficult notions to conceptualize, and yet it is in this difficulty that these notions are best conceptualized. So I repeat: the individual is not indivisible, an understanding hardly understood in the Occidental, subject-verb-object culture. The question of the essential self, says Bhabha, cannot be defined "within a tradition of representation that conceives of identity Every reading is a translation, a transfer (or "metaphor") of something which allegedly lies on or in the page to some other place inside the reader's mind. Yet as Irnerio makes clear, when he refuses to read, that "something" is not the physical stuff of the books themselves, but something else entirely. Readers are trans-lators, those who take things from their proper places and move them somewhere else, and reading is intertextual, an endless juxtaposition and interchange of texts which is a kind of translation. 72  A Poetic Pedagogy  56  as... the object of vision." Such mimetic metaphors hinder thinking 73  because they represent, reflect, even frame the self with no perspective of depth. The mirror, the self-portrait, the "auto" in autobiography, all fail to show the gaps, faultlines, and evidences of a multi-constructed and constituted individual. In getting beyond this subject-object duality of individual, Barthes shifts the frame of identity from the space  field of vision  to the  of writing. In writing, says Barthes, one creates "a vertical 74  dimension" of the self. Such a conception is not an understanding 75  of the essential self, but a reconstituting the many selves. This is writing in the space of crisis, or in the in between. For example, the prophet poems have developed in the in between. Beginning as a few scrawled lines in a journal, these poems were reconstituted on computer disk, only to be deleted, merged, cut, and pasted with other Bhabha, Homi. (1987). "Interrogating Identity." Identity: The Real Me. I C A Documents 6, London: Institute of Contemporary Arts. p. 5. 73  Barthes, Roland. (1979). "From Work to Text." Josue V . Harari. Ithaca, N Y : Cornell U P . 7 4  Textual Strategies. E d . and introd.  Barthes, R. (1977). "The Death of the Author." In Image-music-text. New York: H i l l & Wang. pp. 142-148. 75  A Poetic Pedagogy  57  fragment thoughts and poems. Indeed, these poems are a becoming-inprocess— for they have been "evoked and erased at the same time." Even now they are not complete in that each line as present 76  is already erased, a moment past, to be evoked as a voice of another new and developing poem. Delete I am an un friend of computers lama fraid of the im patient  steady pulse of the cursor metered and immortal The pen beats like an artery like a stream a snake in my hand primitive, rhythmic, irregular; it swells between me— fingers like a pregnancy bleeds into words Bhabha, Homi. (1987). "Interrogating Identity." Identity: The Real Me. ICA Documents 6, London: Institute of Contemporary Arts. p. 6. 7 6  A Poetic Pedagogy  58  The cursor translates something alien and electric behind my eyes something solid and honed that cuts with the fluid clarity of ideas I am a fraid of its power  The translation theory of Walter Benjamin presents a "trans-literal" dimension of texts and the operations of language—a view that is close to Irnerio's. According to Benjamin, the goal of translation is not to transfer a meaning (which can somehow be detached from its linguistic embodiment) from one textual body to another, but rather to form a kind of reciprocity between the translation and the original text, so that the reader sees through both to "pure language." This pure or "true" language is not an historical, empirical language, but rather it is language itself, language without purpose, meaning, or function—language speaking only itself, endlessly. Benjamin (1968) called this goal "literal translation." 7 7  A real translation is transparent; it does not cover the original, does not block its light, but allows the pure language, as though reinforced by its own medium, to shine upon the original all the more fully (p. 79). Literal translation seeks "a language completely devoid of any kind of meaning function . . . pure signifier . . . paradoxical in the extreme" (de Man, 1986, pp. 96-97). The goal of literal translation is the interlinear text, "in which literalness and freedom are united" (Benjamin, 1968, p. 82). In the space between the parallel lines of the two texts, the translation and its original are united in a true language "without the mediation of meaning." The translation reflects back upon and reveals the original as a fragment of pure language, in a way that it is unable to reveal itself. In translation the original is brought back to life, and the pure language imprisoned within the original text is "liberated" (Benjamin, 71-72, p. 80). It is translation, according to Benjamin, that "saves" the text.  A Poetic Pedagogy  59  of - -literation its obliteration of the words that make me more than chemical 78  am a fraid the ease I  For Benjamin, the principal question in translation theory is: how does the translated text illuminate the original text? The value of a translation lies in its confrontation with the original text, not in its infallible transmission of the meaning of that text. The preferred translation will not necessarily be the most accurate one, the clearest transmission of meaning, but rather the one which stands in tension with the original text. Literal translation measures the uniqueness of the material text by the other texts with which it is juxtaposed, and with the possibilities for intertextual meaning which then emerge. Like a tangent to a circle, the translation harmoniously supplements and complements the original. There is no question of the two texts somehow being two copies of the same thing. The interlinear space of translation is Utopian and uninhabitable; it is sacred and untouchable space (Derrida, 1985, p. 115). The letters of the alphabet, from which the text is assembled, are meaningless in themselves. The text itself as a physical object, the material space of the semiotic, is deficient in meaning. The physical text is a literal text, and therefore it resists interpretation. It is unreadable, non-readable, non-readerly. According to this view, the purpose of language is not to reveal but to conceal, and translation tests the power of language to hide meaning: 7 8  Translation must in large measure refrain from wanting to communicate something, from rendering the sense, and in this the original is important to it only insofar as it has already relieved the translator and his translation of the effort of assembling and expressing what is to be conveyed. (Benjamin, 1968, p. 78) Literal translation seeks to uncover the language spoken by God in creating the universe—that is, a language of naming. For literal translation, the proper name is a matter of crucial importance. Names cannot be translated, strictly speaking—they stand at the very edge of language, at the boundary of signification. Names have meaning (they refer to objects), and yet they do not mean (they cannot be defined). The name is language beyond meaning, without meaning—a language "lost" by humanity (because "confused" by God) at the Tower of Babel.  A Poetic Pedagogy  60  my life disappears embalmed in a file inkstains rubbed out on my fingertips Nothing left but the smiling cursor: sharp, flashing unyielding behind my eyes like a bottomless babbling of questions  In "Delete" the text and identity become inextricably linked so that the poem cannot end. The last line, "of questions" suspends a moment in time where construction and deconstruction are perpetually intertwined. Resolving the crisis in identity, then, would not only block the movement of this poem, but it would present a deceitful, even sinful unity. Life exists, both for the text and for the individual, in the tension created in the turns of each line and in the final questioning. This tensionality shows a flexible, dynamic identity which is not an identity, a belonging which is not a belonging. Consequently, I settle for "seeing through a glass darkly" (I Cor. 1 3 : 1 0 ) , for there is no objective lens under which my "I" is  61  A Poetic Pedagogy  illuminated. For Bhabha, What is transformed in the postmodern perspective, is not simply the 'image' of the person, but an interrogation of the discursive and disciplinary place. 79  Interrogation is the perpetual crisis of questioning, inevitably a more thoughtful, rigorous, and animated understanding of re-search; for it is the question which motivates the search and the re-search for identity. Questions are valuable not just in directing the search, but also in living and surrounding the search. To live in question is to not answer, but to trust that questions necessitate thinking. Questions perpetuate crisis. The individual is a question in crisis. And the prophet identity is one of many questions. Prophet Cannot define me, nor can I be prophet in kind or essence. Rather, the prophet voice, like the fugue, calls within a cacophony of voices. From the art and science of counterpoint issued one of the most exciting types of Baroque music, the fuga, Latin for "flight," implying a flight of fancy, possibly the flight of the theme from one voice to another. The fugue is a contrapuntal composition...in which a theme or subject of a singularly Bhabha, Homi. (1987). "Interrogating Identity." Identity: The Real Me. ICA Documents 6, London: Institute of Contemporary Arts. p. 6. 7 9  A Poetic Pedagogy  62  marked character pervades the entire fabric, entering now in one voice, now in another. 80  I name the prophet voice not to escape the question of cacophony but as "an intersection of intertextuality, a subject in process, a subject in dialectical crisis." To be sure, God's people are only useful to His 81  purpose when living crisis. God uses crisis to build strength—it is the paradox of the weak being made strong (II Cor. 12:10). Kristeva recognizes this, that when the individual is at the site of subversion, when the individual is marginalized, there are ethical possibilities. To live in question, to live in crisis is a relinquishing of power, of self-will or self-determination. It is an acknowledgement, for Kristeva, of the other within the self. A refusal to make such an acknowledgement "makes the individual a reactionary and dangerous subject." Such a refusal for the prophet is the sin of hypocrisy and pride. In humility the prophet must acknowledge weakness and  Aoki, Ted. (1993). "In the Midst of Slippery Theme-words: Living as Designers of Multicultural Curriculum." The Call of Teaching. The British Columbia Teacher's Federation Program for Quality Teaching, p. 94 8 0  Clark, Suzanne and Hulley, Kathleen. (1991). "An Interview with Julia Kristeva: Cultural Strangeness and the Subject in Crisis." Discourse. 13(1). p. 153. 81  A Poetic Pedagogy  63  dependency, which is living by faith. Certainly the discourse so far has both traced and erased emerging themes of prophet, but surely there is no clear boundary where prophet begins and ends. My theming, far from defining prophet, is surrounded by questions, hopefully to serve as a tool for opening up possibilities of different, conflicting, and therefore deeper reflections of the voices resounding in the gaps of a spiritual and mysterious individual.  A Poetic Pedagogy  64  A  n Oracle  Claims Truth a bloated swollen truth a delicious stale phrase left over word that reeks too fresh of naivety claims being nativity Perhaps my desire for the constant comes from home, where the rocks don't move, and the birds screeched as much yesterday as they do today  Truth a child eager in expectation hurriedly awaking the dawn shaking the sheets that cover slumber much is unopened new possibility claims promises Where the same old man sits alone in the doorway; his old hands sculptured by the skidder-jigging line—curled round as if forever in the motion  A Poetic Pedagogy  of pulling Douglas fir  Truth writhing in the air a prophet one foot on the stump that rots with age grips hearts fulfilling expectations and things of sort Comfortable in the open air a fog slipping and spilling like syrup, smothering the hills; everything's the same the only change is that every year it seems  more sad making more surprises which are not reliable nor objective claims Truth a process before engendered routine knowledge which is not truth claims  65  A Poetic Pedagogy  Claims  66  is a poem bringing renewal to the rationalist mode of  inquiry which has dominated Western culture since Aristotle. Rationalist thinking, analytic philosophy, and similar abstract approaches, though stretching the bounds of human knowledge, are naive attempts to quantify and classify all things into ultimate components. With its particular attention to inductive method, this form of inquiry prides itself on rigorous observation and classification to test a hypothesis. And while successful in gathering data, this quest for truth qua unbiased, scientific measurement, ironically, has made a religion of statistical probability; words like reliability and validity having become sacrosanct in attempts to prove what can be quantified, ordered, and explained. The result has been a stagnant, scientific language assuming "sameness" and "finitude." The discourse of prophet makes no such assumptions. The prophet recognizes that the rationalist cannot satisfy all the necessary and sufficient criteria for truth; for in constructing unities and totalities, the rationalist overlooks a truth which is mysteriously animated. In contrast, the prophet seeks a truth which cannot be explained: truth as vast,  A Poetic Pedagogy  67  obscure, even odd. It is a truth which distinguishes itself, undermining the science of results and findings just as surely as it mocks the arrogance of religion. A truth which is also irreverent and un-religious. But a confession emerges in the guise of a question: if truth, being so vast and mysterious, is not reducible into component parts, if it is indeed so inexhaustible, how does the prophet understand it? And stemming from this question are others: what is truth? is it needed? what's it for? is it the same for everyone? can it be grasped with careful scrutiny?  Bathing on Sinai Soaking in the bathtub with bubbles, blowing raspberry smells while hiding under the foamy facade longing to be filled contemplating truth like mildew in the cracked edges where green forms  A Poetic Pedagogy  68  long after the gurgling down the drain traces of water attract little dark fluffs from a too new towel licking my back  Like bubbles, arrogant truth is light, temporary, and easily falls away. Working under the auspices of orthodox faith this "long standing truth" has indeed fallen away, but has simultaneously 82  fallen into. And while the Eurocentric Rationality and its subsequent logics  83  has slowly replaced given truth with observable truth  (breaking down insight into small components that can be measured and verified), what remains are traces that exist apart from a 84  scientific movement, and give credence to faith and mystery in inquiry.  That truth is observable is an assumption Western humanity has borne from Aristotle to Aquinas to Descartes. 82  83  Jardine, David. (1994). Speaking With A Boneless Tongue. Bragg Creek, Alberta: Mayko  Press. Bobbitt's theory of education (1920's and 1930's) reflects this atomistic paradigm which is still prevalent in the B . C . English Language Arts curriculum. 84  A Poetic Pedagogy  Truth I am satin stuffed crushed velvet glued to cardboard a hundred tiny birds fly from my mouth when I sing small shadows encircling I am made I am a fish flopping I am the last spoonful Throw me back! Boa constrictor swinging I swallow mice whole suck men in legs first I am a scorpion hiding I visit at night dressed in bells I shimmy up pillows arch into ears swim in warm dark brains Only darkly am I seen underwater, vaguely like light on shower doors I leak under doors  69  70  A Poetic Pedagogy  The prophet voice, being composed in truth, is a resounding call of the crisis within being. Still—the difficulty and scope of defining truth is a daunting, ominous, even a violent task (which is why I've been alluding to truth and avoiding it simultaneously). Fortunately, there is a way of escape. According to Deleuze, the aim is not to answer questions, rather we need to "get out" of them. Some have understood "getting out" as a continually revisiting the questions, as somehow getting beyond the questions themselves. But Deleuze says, Getting out never happens like that. Movement always happens behind the thinker's back, or in the moment when he blinks. Getting out is already achieved, or else it never will be. 85  In other words, there is an answer which we cannot find but has always already existed. While knowing is part of our being, owning a body of knowledge which can be passed on as cultural heritage is to already lose hold of the slippery nature of truth. As believer in truth, the prophet realizes truth is not finite.  Deleuze, Gilles and Parnet Claire. (1987). Dialogues. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. New York: Columbia University Press, p. 1. 85  71  A Poetic Pedagogy  Thank You for Those Words of Silence Objective meanings hide lived meanings. The latter becomes silent and we become heedless of that silence. 86  We stand before each other quite naked like a singular united not sure as we with shut eyes imagine only preposition integrate sep arate domains (to search) form ulate what matters (to know) to cavort upon fragile spine reiterating violent motions (to deceiveto tear to pieces) naked before each other not sure forgetting what it's like to think these separate domains to search  8 6  Heidegger, cb. Aoki, Ted. (1994). Journalizing as Writing/Re-writing: Recovering and  Constituting/Re-constituting Meanings of Lived Experience. Unpublished Document for a  Workshop at Canadian International College, North Vancouver, B . C .  A Poetic Pedagogy  72  to know to deceive— ignoring still naked gaps-overlaps, distinguish little not sure with silly hearts and minds un-subjected silent looking gaze and skip along in vicious circles  Thank You for Those Words of Silence begins with very  frightening words for the prophet: not sure. Being unsure is too slippery, too inconclusive; it is a silent nakedness of being undone. Having prided himself in the humble claim of building on a solid foundation (Matt. 7:24-27), the prophet now perceives a widening and widening distance between fixed, binary points. Unsure, there begins a searching and researching for a new foundation, and it is at this point of hesitation, that destined and even predestined searching legitimates a space prior to and outside the action of searching, which cannot be traversed. In this gap which cannot be traversed, a  A Poetic Pedagogy  73  reconstituted understanding of foundation (a foundation of living in action) is realized, calling the prophet to subvert self-evident or authoritarian claims to a reinterpreting through the lived experience. Searching Searching comes every afternoon hits the thesis knocks on doors, windows, roofs brings thoughts outside boundaries for quick relief from the stiff heat pull words together under awnings as it spreads throughout the pages pounding a beat danced by the academics The thesis moves to the same rhythm the question beats harder and more insistently til it stops leaves in mid step and sudden heat alive now waiting for dark The thesis disappears too, returns to dress for another night of searching The implication of the poem "Searching" is that the mystery of truth remains an inexhaustible search. "Search" is, though not a  74  A Poetic Pedagogy  foundation, still a comfortable word for the prophet because it presupposes leaving from and going to a destination. There is an overlying purpose in searching which provides an order in the investigation. It is during this process, says Deleuze, that ...while you turn in circles among these questions, there are becomings which are silently at work, which are almost imperceptible...[they] are orientations, directions, entries and exits. 87  For the prophet, Deleuze introduces not a proclamation of knowing, but a proclamation of truth; not a proclamation of having knowledge, nor of knowing knowledge, but of dwelling in the "orientations, directions, entries, and exits" of knowledge. So, rather than assuming an understanding which is behind one's back, the prophet's claim to truth is ever open to silent becomings, "textured by a multiplicity of lines moving from between to between...knowing no beginning and no end, resisting enframing."  88  To "become" is a coming into being, which is the breath of Deleuze, Gilles and Parnet Claire. (1987). Dialogues. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. New York: Columbia University Press, p. 9. 87  Aoki, Ted. (1994). Course Lecture. Modern Languages 508b. University of British Columbia, July. 88  75  A Poetic Pedagogy  life, the animation of meaning previously inanimate. The breath, a multiplicity of textured meaning, is silently, softly, subtly at work—it is not seen, not heard, not understood. It is holding open spaces for truth to come forth, like a flicker of light in the darkness. Nothing 89  comes out of darkness; darkness remains until there is light. If there were no darkness, there would be no light; light has come out of darkness, also pre-existing darkness. Deleuze explains this bringing into being with his notion of double capture: Becomings are not phenomenon of imitation or assimilation, but of double capture. 90  There can be no duality of light and darkness, rather light exists in the gap of darkness signifying darkness. • "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God" (John 1:1). • "In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light Though the prophet fears "being unsure" and is hesitant when not on "solid ground" (mentioned above), the promise of purposeful "search" enables a risk-taking, that for the prophet, is precisely a space between fear and confidence. Dwelling in this space is not either fear or confidence, but both fear and confidence. This is the paradoxical nature of risk-taking, and like meaning, it too emerges silently, softly—like a flicker of light in the darkness. 89  Deleuze, Gilles and Parnet Claire. (1987). Dialogues. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. New York: Columbia University Press, p. 2. 9 0  A Poetic Pedagogy  76  shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it" (John 1:4,5). • "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). • "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).  A Risk—Taking: When There Was Light / have been on a high all week because of Melody. I haven't been able to stop thinking about her. I write in celebration of her success at facing a personal challenge, a growing confidence in herself, an increase in her performance, and my pride for her. Melody was one of those students who come on our campus thinking they 're not bright, whofindthe path difficult, who come into class believing that they 're destined for lesser things, and who play out that constricting role. If those same students, however, are encouraged to face and overcome crisis and see the possibilities around them, they can become confident people who arefilledwith awe and wonder for learning. Melody started on that role. I suppose the story starts with my apology to the class a week ago Friday. I had sent Melody to the office for refusing to take part in a triad discussion, and as soon as she was out the door I knew I had blown it. At the time I wasn't ready to face up to my mistake, and thought that over the weekend things would just blow over. But my heart kept nagging: even though I was "the teacher" and had the authority, I knew I wasn't serving the students. So much for being open to students needs. A good friend of mine, Steve Hardy, could see right away what I had to do, but I suppose my own fears kept me from seeing the truth of having to apologize. In the end I took the risk. I put aside my teacheriy garments, and for thefirsttime I let the truth come out in a full-blown apology. What happened after that was simply amazing, and living proof that truth is not something one  A Poetic Pedagogy  77  lays claim to, but something that comes into being silently and softly. I had received an inkling of how some students felt as I handed out the quiz and roamed about the room for the rest of the class time. Andrew had said to me as I passed by, "Nice going." Michelle, with a surprised admiration in her face whispered as I passed by, "that was something else." There was a glance here and a smile there, a slight nod, a thumbs up. And finally, Way man came up to me at the end of the class and said, "You've earned yourself a Davey Boy's dinner." The students handed in their journals on Wednesday. About 15 of the 21 students had written something about that day. Here's a sampling: "That was pretty cool...I was pretty leery about this triad stuff, but now I'm going give it a chance. No, I'm going to do more than that." "What Mr. Wiebe did to own up to a mistake was neat. Maybe that will give me help to do better in class." "Wish others had the same amount of guts. Maybe I can find the same stuff inside me." "Boy, is the grapevine ever wrong. No son of bitch of teacher who didn't care for students would have done something like he did." "Hell, I'll work my ass off for that guy now except I know if I tell him that he '11 say I should work it off for me." "Talk about a lesson in eating humble pie. Who would have thought Their (sic) never able to admit to anything except that they 're right." "That'll be one I'll long remember. I bet I'll never see another teacher do that." "Mr. Wiebe apologized in front of the class. He didn't have to do  A Poetic Pedagogy  78  that. No one forced him. He just, wanted to. I told my folks about it. They were surprised. "I was really surprised. It proved to me that he really cares about us. I now know he wants me to care about me enough to make the effort to do my best." "To have that kind of trust in us students, no other teacher has ever shown me that he thinks I am worth that much. I don't think I can let him down now." "I was really moved. Now I am going to start moving myself." "I guess I owe it to myself to do be just as dedicated and give 110% to this class and myself as he does to himself and to us." "Damn, he's for real." "He puts his heart where his mouth is. Now it's my turn." "Personally, I think he is quite brave. If he can do that, maybe I can face my fear of talking in class like Melody did." And then there's Melody. Melody is a visa student from Hong Kong. She is conscientious but, until Monday, she was quiet. She never talked during discussions. She always had a look of insecurity. She seldom contributed to the triad during quizzes. I almost got the sense she wanted to contribute, but was afraid to try. She reminded me of one of those students who would prefer to hide in the back of the classroom. I noticed, however, that she always came to class prepared. She always did her share of the chapter write-ups and her share of the outside reading assignments. I knew she always read the material. Once I called upon her during a discussion. She became momentarily paralyzed. She stammered to say something, but nothing came out. A  A Poetic Pedagogy  79  look of fright overcame her face as her lips tightened, her eyes bulged open, and the muscles in her neck became taut. There was look of disappointment with herself. Monday, just before I entered class Melody stopped me. I had just turned on the boombox. It was very softly playing "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" from the soundtrack to Born on the Fourth of July. "Mr. Wiebe, can I talk with you for just a second." "Sure, what's up?" I answered. "I have a great problem," she said with nervous hesitation. "I was afraid to come to you before because I thought you would think I was dumb, but not after what you did." "Why don't you tell me about it," I answered. "I onlyfinishedwith my English lessons last year. I don't speak English so well. It is hard for me to read the book. It is slow. I sometimes read it two or three times. I use a dictionary a lot. I don't understand everything." "Neither do I or any one else in the class. Maybe you should ask questions in class, or least ask the others in your triad for help. If you want, I'll answer your questions outside class. We'll get together and I'll give you some tips on how to study." "I would like that, but I am afraid to speak up in class because of my poor English." "Your English sounds fine to me. But, you won't learn to speak better unless you practice it. Start with talking about things with Wayman and Peter." "But, I get embarrassed. I'm not very good with English." "You got up and sang on the first day of class, didn't you?" "Yes." "Well, nothing can be more embarrassing than that in this class. And you did it. What does that tell you about you. Once you did that, what else could be more embarrassing? Be honest with yourself, what's really troubling you?" She hesitated and then said reluctantly, "I am afraid I am not good enough. I am afraid I will make a mistake and say the wrong  A Poetic Pedagogy  80  word and the others will think I am stupid. I don't know what to do. When we talked about women, I wanted so much to say something about how women are treated in Hong Kong. But, I was so afraid. I couldn't. I so much wanted to say something, but I was so afraid." "You had a lot to contribute to the class and you could have taught the others. You have to trust yourself and trust the others. You have the ability, but it's not important that I believe it. You must believe it. Take the risk. Raise you hand and speak, or just blurt out what you want to say. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. And, you can help the others by sharing your experiences." "But what if I say something silly ? " "You know that, at least in this class, there is no such thing." "But, what if I look stupid?" "To whom? It's not what you say that is important right now. It's that you make the effort, that you meet the challenge and see for yourself how able you are." "What should I do?" "What do you really want this class to be for you" "I want it to help be learn to do my best and be a good person." "Then let it. Act on your belief. This is your first attempt at a mountain of faith. It's risky, I know, but I can't tell you what to do. I am me and I know what I would do. I can't tell you to be me. I can show you how to climb and I can even tell you that you have the ability to climb, But, you have to decide whether to climb." "What should I do?" "I think you know the answer. That's why you wanted to talk with me. You just wanted me to reassure you. Well, I am. You can do it." And decide she did. We went into class. I turned up the boombox. As I was seeing who was in class, I saw Melody talking with the other members of her triad. They were making shoving motions. I then asked the class, "Ok, chapter 3 today. What are the issues you want to bring up ?" A few hands went up just as Melody  A Poetic Pedagogy  81  hesitantly rose from her chair and said, "Mr. Wiebe, can I talk to the class ?" I gave her the floor. I felt a sudden rush of excitement. Wayman pressed her arm in an act of encouraging faith. As Peter looked with great support and admiration in his eyes, Melody continued, "I am very nervous. I'm not sure I can do this." She stopped and looked at me. I didn't say a word. I just made an encouraging nod. But, I was screaming in silence, "go, go, go!" Taking a deep breath, she straightened up and went on, "But I think if Mr. Wiebe could say he is sorry for something he said to the entire class I think I can stand up and ask for you to understand me." She looked in my direction. I nodded my head approvingly. During the discussion that day Melody hesitantly raised her hand, and with anxiety all over her face, she answered a question. The ice was broken. I could see a nourishing sense of satisfaction flooding into every cell of her body. A few minutes later, as the discussion continued, she raised her hand and spoke a sentence. A few minutes after that, she asked a question. I said to myself, "Melody, today this is your class." By the end of the class, Melody was taking a position and making a lengthy statement. I was so proud for Melody. Each day this past week, she came into class a bit stronger, a bit more relaxed. Her face had more of a soft glow where once there was a pallor of fear. Her confidence grew stronger each day as her inhibition grew weaker. She participated in the class discussion every day. On Wednesday and Thursday, I watched her take an active role, a leadership role, in developing a triad symbol, motto and name. I marvel at how deeply inhibited most students are. I ask them to show their true selves to others in a variety of ways. This is tough for most of them because they've been told that if they don't excel in everything, they are nothing; if they don't conform to someone else's ideal, they 're not ideal. Here was an instance when I witnessed the awesome power of risk-taking. Once Melody confronted and overcame her groundless fear, trusted herself, trusted the other members of the  82  A Poetic Pedagogy  class, she started to learn to appreciate herself and her uniqueness.  own  Living out my relationship with Melody taught me that the prophet's understanding of truth is not fixed, nor is it a dualism of 91  truth/falsehood. For though I still feel I "was right," it was more right to apologize. I realize that in truth there are seldom opposites, and that being a prophet is a becoming in relationship with truth, which is to live in and be reconstituted in it. The prophet in-truth relationship is not an intersubjectivity of autonomous entities, rather it is an intertextuality constituted within a dialogue of truth; like my dialogue with Melody, it is a logos of intertextuality. However, to hear and understand such a powerful dialogue, we must contrast the  logos  of  intertextuality  with traditional  understandings of text which are also profoundly logocentric. Traditionally, the text has been both a concrete, unique ink-and-paper  There is a description of truth which reads "I am the beginning and the end." Some understand this notion to mean that truth is final, fixed, and.humanly limited. However, this description resists such a linear, measured interpretation. For to say, "I am Alpha and Omega, beginning and end," is also to say there is no beginning and end; to be Alpha and Omega is not finity but infinity. 91  A Poetic Pedagogy  83  thing which you might hold in your hand, file on a shelf, or even throw in the trash, and the text has also been an ideal, Platonic form of which the material thing is merely a "copy." Though these ways of thinking seem quite natural to some, I argue that it simply indicates how deeply the metaphysics of presence has been ingrained in textual inquiry. As an educator, the prophet's calling to a lived knowledge is to deconstruct and reconstitute the world of curriculum and his/her place within it. This, in Aoki's words, is a distancing or disturbing of the curricular landscape. Which means, for the prophet, injecting new ways of knowing into traditional ways of knowing. How we understand this disturbance is the leading question of the next chapter.  A Pedagogic Priest  85  A Poetic Pedagogy  A D  i  s  t  u  r  b  a  n  c  e o  fK  n  The Judgement Days / slept in this morning and went out a bit later than usual. After all, reports are in. It was very nice outside, a tad on the warm side, enough to break into a slight sweat. I walked this morning with a sense of hesitant and reflective relief. The Judgement Days are over. Grades are in. The week-long dark and depressing period of senseless life- threatening torture on campus that contrasts with the surrounding beautiful reminders of renewed life has come to an end. My mortality has returned. My cloak of supposedly divine infallibility, now wrinkled and tattered and stained, once again hangs in the closet; my reserved seat on Mount Sinai once again stands empty. During the last week of class, the students had been making final exam presentations displaying that awe, wonder, curiosity, risk-taking, knowledge and personal growth that education should be all about. There was Peter, Eric and Chuen who sang an original song on slavery and racism; Mike, Sarah and Janice who discussed their sculptured figures depicting their answer to the question, "What is tolerance?"; two triads ran an impressive bingo-type game called "Histo"; two other triads put together a takeoff on Definition; four triads presented a great Jeopardy show; there was Sundeep, Sarah, and Clayton who taught the class what being the brunt of prejudice and hatred as a minority really meant; Justin, Tim and Lori showed the video tape of their original four-act pantomime play on the influence of Christianity in Hamlet; Bertrand and Marty presented their original, interactive computer program on the reformation. My eyes still sting, my brain still hurts, my back still aches, heart still tugs (esp. after the Canucks loss to Chicago). I am mentally tired, emotionally drained, physically worn out, and just numb. It takes me a lot of time and effort and concentration to issue a final grade for a student. No computer grading programs for me! For six days, including a Monday allnighter to meet deadlines, for each of my  o  w  l  e  d  A Poetic Pedagogy  86  120 students, I have been struggling to "get a feel" for the "big picture," to see how far each student has come from where he or she was. I poured over their journals, pondered their weekly evaluation and final self-evaluations and peer evaluations of each other, went over my daily class notations, reflected on the final exam presentations, recalled conversations with them, factored in both academic and character development during the entire quarter, balanced effort and performance, assessed just what it was each student learned, juggled quiz grades and weekly written assignment evaluations, thought about the nature of participation in daily class discussions and contribution to the triad. Then, second guessing myself, I went through the torturous process again. For more than a student or two or three all over again, utilizing the "bonus factor" for an adjustment here and there. Progress, development, improvement, growth, and process were words that reflect my guiding criteria for evaluation, not calculation or compilation. I'd be dishonest if I didn't admit that were times I was tempted to envy so many of my colleagues who with great ease distantly and quickly add, divide, calculate, record, hand in, and go off; or let a mindless, heartless, computer program do the calculations for them. It would be so easy to agree with those who comfortably argue that their grades reveal unbiased judgement, consistent standards, impartial evaluation. I could avoid all of my inner turmoil if I accepted the fact that grades present precise instruments of evaluation, offer irrefutable evidence of performance, are scientifically arrived at, and provide absolute truth. Each time, I realize that handling a grade compilation is so much simpler, easier, and safer than handling the unpredictable and extremely variable human equation. So many people place so much stock in something that is so arbitrary and means so little. They get so nervous thinking that there may exist things that are beyond standardized or absolute measure 92  The times of envy are a constant tension. Even now as I reread my words, I still envy my colleagues. 92  A Poetic Pedagogy  87  that they tend to measure only that which is measurable. I can't, however, in good conscience be intellectually or emotionally imprisoned, or immobilized by numbers, or shirk my responsibility by hiding behind scores, or feign innocence by proclaiming, "I had no choice. The grades made me do it!" Those kinds of grades don't say how far each student has come, with what they had to struggle, the barriers they had to overcome. I wish you all could read some of these students' journals. If you did, you 'd be gripped by the sincerity of Robin saying, "I have never ever relied upon anyone else or trusted anyone for anything. What I have painstakingly come to realize is this: no one could possibly do everything themselves all the time. Sometimes one has to depend on others to help them accomplish their goals. To not trust others and depend only on myself was cheating the other members of my triad of their responsibility. I learned much about myself and others during my time in this class. I believe now that was, aside from learning history, the main purpose from the beginning." You'd have compassion for Gary: "I learned a lot of history. But that was only because you showed me how to take chances, how to believe in myself, not to be average like everyone else, but be different and take the risks to be the best." " And Rebecca writing that "grades mean a lot to me and I got a pretty good knowledge of history, but I think I learned that life is all about working for each other, learning to deal with people, to cooperate with them and respect their differences. That's almost as important as history."  A Poetic Pedagogy  88  There's Wayman who wrote: "I learned to express my thoughts. ..I'm better or should I say I'm more at ease with myself...I've learned not only to explore history, but also my inner self." Carrie's words would never stop ringing: "I learned a lot about myself. It has helped me develop my learning ability and my sense of purpose. I didn 't just learn history, I grew as a person in this class." You'd be amazed at Amy's realization: "It was like waking up from a social and education coma that I had been in for so long. I finally realized that getting by just gets you by, but going all out will get you anywhere you want logo," You'd be surprised at Angela's development: "I've learned not to be embarrassed of myself or so afraid of failing. I am not as easily intimidated. I've learned how to study the material. I no longer read words, I look for things behind the words." Or Kim's, "I have seen myself change... I am not afraid to voice my opinion anymore and it feels great...' I have learned self-respect, to think for myself, to improve my study habits, as well as a lot of history." And, you'd be haunted by Alisha's unforgettable words:  A Poetic Pedagogy  89  "Thanks to this class I am starting to realize that education is not just taking tests and getting grades. It's about life and what each of us can accomplish on our own. It's like when we get in class, everyone is like a family who will stick up for each other and work with each other instead of stabbing each other in the back to impress you. When we walk into the room its like we had a special bond that no one, no matter how hard they try, will ever forget." Because of these words, I've decided that no matter what it takes, I'll not let this class be disappointed in me by me not showing the respect I showed toward them during their final presentations. I hope to God this class stays with me wherever I go and whatever I do. I wrack my brain trying to figure out how to quantify fairly the immeasurable, how to gauge in numeric or alphabetic value those ethereal feelings and those accomplishments. I despise having to take the human quotient of my class and reduce it to cold, impersonal numbers and letters. It's like sucking the spirit out of the students and reducing them to the proverbial $1.47 cents worth of chemicals. I will not accept the role of an academic meat inspector staining the rump of each student as they emerge from the class like so many sides of beef coming out from a meat-packing plant with a purple stamp of approval segregating them into: premium, choice, commercial. I think that the personal growth the students take from the classroom is far more important than the quizzes and test they take and leave inside the classroom. The simple truth is that the more I get involved in the humanity of each of my students, the harder it is for me to ignore their humanity and the humanity of the classroom experience. And so, I admit a lot of non-measurable intuition goes into my evaluation because a lot of what I think should be factored in defies the quantitative demands of the slide-rule. I just do what I tell my students to do. I take the risk, rely heavily upon my gut feeling, that "priestly" sense, some call it intuition, and issue a grade swearing  A Poetic Pedagogy  90  under my breath, "never more, never more, never more." Needless to say that I have been agonizing about grades on most of my walks this past week. I can't say that any of the walks were easy. The rhythmic beats of my feet touching the asphalt of each walk, however, have made me feel increasingly lyrical about the subject. This morning I felt it all coming together. I couldn't wait to finish. I gathered speed with increasing elation and rushed inside the house before the spirit left me.  91  A Poetic Pedagogy  Grading Difficulties The tintinnabulation of grades Letter grades, numerical grades Pass/Fail grades The student's chests are palpitating by the cold, inhuman calculating of passing grades, failing grades, average grades From the juggling and the tinkering of professorial hankering with curved grades, sliding grades, adjusted grades You can listen to the fuss over the minus and the plus of grades grades grades Student lips amuttering their tortured minds acluttering Hear muted voices groaning their fevered hearts aburning Bodies bolt upright in the middle of the night dripping drops of sweat wondering what they'll get What a tale of terror waiting for that number fighting for that letter that lets them think they're better In the silence of the night, the judgements will be posted of the students I hosted. The telephones now ringing with the melancholy desperate desire, rising higher afraid of that fateful blow yet, all wanting to know "What have I made?" There is nothing discerning that grades reveal any learning Yet, for that silly contest they kill that glorious awe and wonder With the tintinnabulation of grades  A Poetic Pedagogy  92  My "priestly" difficulties are not limited to student evaluations, but emerge whenever there is a temptation to serve knowledge rather than my students, to transmit knowledge rather than enliven it. It is in this unique situation, that I am reminded pedagogy can be thought of in terms of the Old Testament priesthood. In the Old Testament it was always dangerous to approach God. To enter into His presence was to die, or at least to be in 93  danger of death. Moses heard the voice of God saying: "You cannot see my face: for man shall not see me and live" (Ex. 33:20), and when Moses came down from the mountain top, the astonished exclamation of the people was: "We have this day seen God speak with man and man still live" (Deut. 5:24). From this history emerges the conception of the priestly calling to enter into the presence of God on behalf of the people. The priest is a representative, doing what the Israelites could not and must not do. In the priest they drew near. To this there must be added a  This belief had left its mark on the ritual Day of Atonement. On this day only the High Prist might enter into the Holy of Holies. It was a dangerous calling for the ceremony had to be done as quickly as possible lest Israel be in danger. 93  A Poetic Pedagogy  93  characteristically Greek line of thought. Plato believed that in heaven there were a series of perfect forms, archetypes of which everything in this world was a shadowy, imperfect copy. In this world, in Cicero's phrase, there are only umbrae et imagines, shadows and copies.  94  For the Hellenistic Jew, the priestly calling was to  penetrate beyond the shades and shadows to the realities which are beyond. How does this relate to pedagogy? In particular, what is at play is the priestly background to God's covenant relationship with Israel?  95  The supreme characteristic of this covenant was that God  spontaneously offered a relationship that Israel could never have acquired. But that covenant was not without its conditions (Ex. 23:18). It depended on Israel's acceptance and obedience to the Law of God. This at once opens a new line of thought. Consider both teachers and students living in a covenant  Cicero, M . Tullius. (1982). de Officiis, De Senectute, et de Amicitia. London: Parker et Socios. p. 3.17. 94  A covenant is not to be thought of as an agreement, and arrangement, a bargain which is entered into two parties by mutual agreement. 9 5  A Poetic Pedagogy  94  relationship. Clearly, both in weakness, will fail to serve one another perfectly. What then is to be done? It is here that the whole notion of priestly self-sacrifice and personal giving enters in; for it is the pedagogic priest who aspires to restore the covenant. When covenant is broken, the priest initiates the needed sacrifice to make restoration.  96  And yet, this notion is still inadequate. In the first place, the pedagogic priest cannot "go to knowledge" on behalf of the students; a teacher obviously cannot learn for the students. No, a pedagogic priest in a covenant relationship with students, is chiefly involved in bridgebuilding—it is a calling, in a sense to live in the in-between. This conception of the pedagogic priest is consistent with those features of post-modern education articulated at a more general, curricular level by such writers as William Doll. Drawing upon a vast store of constantly converging approaches, linking notions from philosophy, education and literary theory, Doll argues that post-  Do not mistake this notion to mean the pedagogic priest is the most important is the classroom. Rather, it is quite the opposite. Self-sacrifice not only calls the priest to give over the classroom, but sometimes to disappear from it. 9 6  A Poetic Pedagogy  95  modern curriculum (and hence my "priestly" one) is best explained by Schon's reflection-in-action model. Schon's model, which calls for 97  a diverging from modernist paradigms, recognises that human thinking, growing from the in-between, is more often irrational  uncertain  or  than it is objective and analytic.  Thus, knowledge (even when it comes to evaluation) is disturbed, often only meaningful when drawing on experience; for what others abstract and structure inevitably cannot be applied in practice. An effective curriculum does not stem from a transmitted body of knowledge or prior intellectual activity, rather it is created by problems at hand—"created knowing" which develops in praxis. In a later essay, Doll rejects what Miller and Seller would 98  label as  Transmissive  or Transactive" curricula for a more personal  and active construction of reality where teachers engage in and learn Doll, William (1993). A Post-Modern Perspective on Curriculum. New York: Teacher's College Press, p. 114. 9 7  98  Doll, William E . (1989). "Foundations for a post-Modern Curriculum." Journal of  Curriculum Studies, vol 21.  Miller, John P. and Seller, Wayne (1990). Curriculum: Perspectives and Practice. Toronto: Copp Clark Pitman Ltd. 99  96  A Poetic Pedagogy  with the students' created meanings. Unlike the linear models mentioned above, this covenant-kind of curriculum is born out of a servant relationship with one's students. As a result, it is an active process of change, recognizing and appreciating that reality is chaotic, without pre-determined order. It calls for the educator to reflect; 100  for it is a searching and reflective priest who knows intuitively and metaphorically how to interpret a situation in the chaotic action 101  of every moment.  Reflection In Action One of them rose the blond one and batted lashes And at 8:25 am arranged in a circle for triad discourse Such a "priestly" curriculum creates openings where continual accommodation and adaptation occur, relating curriculum to all of life. 100  Doll's idea here is similar to van Manen's (1988) notion in The Tact of Teaching of the teacher who intuitively knows the student and the educational context from parental or instinctual experience. This experience is gained along the road where the pedagogue ensures both the student's safety and success on the journey. 101  A Poetic Pedagogy  97  One of them spoke using "like" as the staple of her native tongue And one of them shed light explaining to the first one what he really meant And one of them spoke of parties and of a sweet guy who was three " really's" worth of drunk By the discourse of cologne lipstick cover-up and mascara I knew my lesson would have to wait  A Micro-Covenant of Life (Researcher's Journal, March 1994) We all have choices of being productive in a stressful situation or lay back and watch life go by. I don't think anxiety in the classroom comes from what teachers do or don't do, or from what students do or don't do. It comes from how we each react  A Poetic Pedagogy  98  to what we and the others do. I think the classroom is a stressful place not because it is a stressful place, but because the support system seldom exists wherein everyone is concerned for and serves everyone else, wherein everyone assumes the responsibility for the success of each other. Priestly teaching is in making the visceral connection with the student. The challenge is, then, to make teaching so powerful, so dynamic, so passionate, so alluring, so purposeful that it touches the student's emotion. For my part, I learned that if I am to make a serious commitment to the students, I must make a serious commitment to that truth, to recognize the value of being honest with myself, of being honest with them, of sharing my strength's and weaknesses, my angers and emotions, and surrendering the too visual images of myself and of them that keep both me and them from being genuine. I was reminded by Steve Hardy that in our conservationconscious society, we discuss ways to cut down on our energy usage. The electric and gas companies have come out to my house, taken an energy inventory, and have offered me cash incentives to become "energy wise." Their motto is "more efficient, costs less." That may be true for using our fossil fuel resource. It is not applicable to the utilization of our human resources. Human growth is not energy efficient. Nor can the assistance in this growth be energy wise.  Like Doll, I experience teaching as living organism, not simply submitting to "efficient" exchanges with the environment, but actively channelling and directing within a covenant relationship with my students. For my students, then, meaning comes about not as the  A Poetic Pedagogy  99  result of being fed information, but from developing and organizing one's own program. When a program is actually a self-directed agenda (where the priest serves the classroom by giving it over), the open interpretations Doll calls for may help engender the kind of renewal so necessary in education. How that becomes possible will be played out in the next chapter.  100  A Poetic Pedagogy  A  Prophetic  ( m i s ) H e a r i n g  Priest: t h e  C a l l  Silence Climbing Their  eyes  like boulders rip up roots and now barkless shattered trunks— thru this net of splinters their eyes own & take the fixed sun of their soul But in the mist of the horizon a wind shrieks over the crevasse dares you in the ear & whistles a petition smitten with voiceless 102  Hearing should be active, essentially a generative action.  101  A Poetic Pedagogy  prayers the eyes do not hear fixed upright and attentive like an idol and up the rockface they climb unknowingly breathing in danger What does it mean to hear? or to hear well? For the modernist, hearing is like gravity. It is a sensibility of causation and of fixity; it is a pull of permanence, pulling to the ground, slowing any upward surge of discovery. In this empirical language, hearing is concerned with accurately and precisely re-articulating a speaker's body of knowledge without error. To err may have been human, but the modernist climbs toward a world without error, the divine world, a world where the perfect human is divine. But the modernist tradition must be challenged, for hearing 103  As G . K . Chesterton once pointed out, we can learn a good deal about entomology without being insects, but if we want to understand humanity, we have to be human ourselves and 103  102  A Poetic Pedagogy  is not receiving a ready-made transmission. If it were, knowledge could not be created or expanded, being caught in a double bind of re-articulation, new knowledge would simply be a perpetuation of already knowledge. Such a conception of knowledge, and therefore learning and hearing, would be "foreclosing on the future" with silence as the inevitable outcome.  104  Whosoever Hears summons sent rumours resound rebound from doorpost to doorpost, only a trace of bloody passover and so assembled in holy armour for holy battle four hundred and fifty Baal  project our understanding from the inside out. Facts, figures, charts, diagrams, quantifiable experiments—these can sometimes be useful, but they can't tell us how we should react on the day that the Supreme Court denies same sex pension benefits, or the day the Bernardo trial came to session, or the day Kurt Maclean signed for seven million dollars. Empirical measure can't help us sort out the enigma of what it means to be. 104  Jardine, David. (1992). "Reflections on Education, Hermeneutics, and Ambiguity." In  Understanding Curriculum as Deconstructed and Phenomenological Text. New York: Teachers  College Press, p. 121.  A Poetic Pedagogy  103  cut into pieces the wood and the bull for the fire from heaven O Baal hear and they called O Baal hear and they danced O Baal hear The Old Testament Baals had ears but they did not hear. So Elijah, gathering 400 Baal worshippers on Mt. Carmel, purposed a test: "whosoever hears we will worship" (I Kings 18:24). Though Elijah was in a difficult and life-threatening situation, he had heard from his ancestors that the God of the Israelites sets himself apart from the Baals. It was in this space, this point between fear and confidence, that God heard (and acted on) the call of Elijah—and with a flash of lightning consumed the evening sacrifice. In this demonstration of hearing power, the people believed and turned from their sinful idol worship; they cried out and worshipped the LORD their God, even slaughtering the prophets of Baal. There was great victory in the land.  104  A Poetic Pedagogy  An Instrument of Power A crown of light in the dark eastern sky, with streaks that stretched and met so strong in purpose high— split apart our sentences at an apex which opened into beyond all that mattered where we are reigned and written to in mystical message to learn to live and be But with the flash victory of lightning comes the temptation of totality, the act of beholding, where the object is held in place directly before the eyes as an instrument of the subject's power over the object. This beholding is a  metaphysics  of vision that tends to  overvalue constancy and totality: above all, we value sight...because sight is the principal source of knowledge and reveals many differences between one object and another. 105  It is a faith gravitated on a presencing of God, a presencing seen all Aristotle. (1). Metaphysics, trans. W . D . Ross. Internet Electronic Text Circulated in the Public Domain, Book I, p . l . 105  105  A Poetic Pedagogy  at once and once for all. Such a sight-dependent faith is futile.  106  For example, not long after the Lord's victory over the Baals, the Israelites began their idol worship again. What happened? The Isaelites lost sight of who they were supposed to serve. When no longer in their presence, God. became only an abstraction of the original, and soon only an isolated image preserved in some tiny space of the memory.  107  Hearing the lesson in these Old Testament words, my priestly . voice whispers the implications for my own teaching. I must recognize my over-dependency on sight, realizing that even though I claim to see, I tend to turn away from what is seen to retain only an isolated image abstracted from the original. I must recognize this tendency as damaging, even dangerous:  108  for eventually, this  capacity leads to assuming a theoretical power that in turn amplifies 106 p j i because it is based on vision, continuing the modernist paradigm of metaphysics. u t  e  Ironically, to view vision as sovereign and inseparable from knowledge actually compartmentalizes it, and eventually reduces or forecloses it. 107  Relying only on sight is dangerous for what begins as wonder and fascination, narrows to a curiosity, and before long becomes an archetype only interested in manipulating and controlling the initial visual spectacle. 108  106  A Poetic Pedagogy  its practical power over things, namely students. If, according to Levin, in the empire proclaimed by our metaphysics, our vision, our metaphysics of vision, it is clear that no fundamental changes, no contradictions, no reserve of difference will be allowed to disturb the power...of its comprehensive rationality, 109  then teachers are apt to be dictators who see all things and know all things. For me, I dictate when I rely too,much and/or too often on materials: the texts, slides, notes, and overheads. For, like the Israelites, that would be forgetting who I serve. To present only what I've read earlier is not hearing because all the mistakes, the misunderstandings, and the mishearings are already worked through. It is, instead, abstraction—distorting my ears by relying on my eyes.  110  And because I forego any tension which might exist  between my ears and eyes, I exclude my ears. In a sense, my ears are  1 0 9  Levin, David. (1989). The Listening Self: Personal Growth, Social Change and the  Closure of Metaphysics. New York, N . Y : Routlege Press, p. 30. 110  This is the modernist conception of both hearing and seeing.  107  A Poetic Pedagogy  recreated as eyes. Paradoxically, my ears now translate experience visually. Thus, when I control the dialogue of the classroom I have ears, but do not hear. Like the ears of an idol, my ears become only representations of authentic hearing. Having doubled the function of the eye, my ears become functionless, foreclosed, dead. The 111  result is absence, silence, foreclosure on conversation. This silent language is profoundly unspiritual, stubborn to prayer, and "unthankful for the original gift."  112  The Sun for the Sunset watched by a thousand eyes, the sun the squat white figure silently slid above the mantle of the mountains neglected red orange, gold rays tingled/tinged the clouds around everyone 111  What is lost is the gentleness, the weakness, the temporality of the whisper.  Jardine, David. (1992). "Reflections on Education, Hermeneutics, and Ambiguity." In Understanding Curriculum as Deconstructed and Phenomenological Text. New York: Teachers College Press, p. 124. 112  A Poetic Pedagogy  108  abstract unique (I, personally, found it more appealing than the others) watched by no one threads of a glorious net lace night the break of dusk still u n t o  u  c  h  e  d  a  l  o  n  e  Whether a lightning strike or sunset, not surprisingly, it is principally through vision that we interact. But when we seek a permanent visual record of signification, when hearing is subverted by seeing, knowing, and naming, when the symbolic flash encourages a reifying and totalizing, then a conversation is problematic, if -not impossible. Restoring communion with others (especially students) is an experiential gathering, a recovering which is an uncovering of a sense of wholeness. Because we need a way of thinking which attempts to avoid the metaphysical grasp of presencing, I now focus on an altogether different experience in this narrative.  A Poetic Pedagogy  Silent in the Dark We swing on the old tire in the darkness empirically silent Then the moon speaking Spanish pricks my ears And [I] kiss the tip bit of your ear and inhale your words like cherry blossoms Twisting and turning on the fraying tired rope A river of grass soon our playground  109  A Poetic Pedagogy  110  In "Silent in the Dark," I write for a different kind of knowing through hearing, a hearing with fewer presuppositions of the subject's knowledge and the object's ability for inerrancy; I long for a hearing which provokes in its disposition the desire to measure the speaker's ignorance. Hearing toward the origin of ignorance rather than knowledge is a critical, playful hearing.  113  pricking of the ears"  114  Daignault says it is "a  which, I claim, continually replays  knowledge, where in the midst of motion and movement arises a tension between permanence and the freedom of ephemerality.  115  Understanding is an endless and violent playing with the text (whether heard or spoken). In relation, the reader/listener is always already in a perpetual struggle with the meaning of the text, drawing life from this meaning while simultaneously disturbing and provoking it; the reader/listener is a vector directing the movement of reading and giving it meaning. 113  114  Daignault, Jacques. (1992). "Traces at Work from Different Places." In Curriculum as  Deconstructed and Phenomenological Text. p. 197.  Thus, in the poem "Silent in the Dark" the swinging tire is moving tension. So much so that the rope holding the old tire is fraying. Tension is not only in the rope, but in our hearts in the midst of crisis. When the old tire falls it is proper compassion to be disappointed, but paradoxically, more proper to celebrate; for when we rise above the empirical mindset, we see not grass but "a river." 115  A Poetic Pedagogy  111  Played Out Fragments to My Soul life plays (and re plays) tricks on us then laughs as we pick up the pieces lying before me shattered broken my face drawn tear streaked looks back at me mimicking me and my folly the shards cut I sweep weep bleed and put a renewed pane in the window Approving the play of tension, even in the face of pain, allows both permanence and freedom to be challenged. It is essentially a generative action, an eternal replacing what is fixed (or broken), even a mis(hearing) what is said to create neither this nor that, but a perpetual space concerned with the emergence of new life. This is what it means to hear, the parody of hearing: to hear  112  A Poetic Pedagogy  without ears. It is a misunderstanding of what is heard to hear what is unsaid. It is a return to the living among the dead —a true 116  conversion which enlivens conversation, in order that we might have hope for a future together. It is in hope that we are initiated into 117  and become part of a conversation that has always already existed. Reading Elijah's biography further, we find defeat is in the midst of victory. A threatening message from Queen Jezebel sent Elijah to the desert in fear. There he sat down under a broom tree and prayed for his death. What I characterized as a metaphysical, representative faith above, is for Elijah no less than a symbiotic faith, relying on holy intervention to subvert any trace of absence, growing only in symbiosis, stagnant with any hint of incompleteness.  The women who rose early Easter morning were looking for the living among the dead. Hearing what everyone else had heard they brought burial spices with them. Suddenly, as if hearing for the first time, they understood. At that point of conversion, conversation began. 116  117  Jardine, David. (1992). "Reflections on Education, Hermeneutics, and Ambiguity." In  Understanding Curriculum as Deconstructed and Phenomenological Text. New York: Teachers  College Press, p. 121.  A Poetic Pedagogy  I Am Alone / I I I  have had enough... am no better than my ancestors... have been very zealous... am the only one left...  Invisible fear runs past an untouchable boundary I am alone the shadows are long their shade disconsolate Black sorrow pulling me here to Mt. Horeb the thing next to my soul a heart bent forth on misery in a void With evening falling there is no point in which to center time emptiness begins I am alone in a void in sad defeated peace comfort smeared sadly When my grief is so great it reaches beyond death the mercy of quiet a few minutes, brooding ...and then a breeze starts up  113  A Poetic Pedagogy  114  There the Lord appeared to Elijah: Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came afire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper (I Kings 19:11-13).  By revealing Himself to Elijah in a whisper, God deconstructs Elijah's sense of identity. Elijah, certain of his status of prophet, claimed to be the only true follower, setting up a duality between himself and the rest of humanity. He travelled to Mount Horeb, previously Mount Sinai, hoping to experience God in the visionary way Moses received the Ten Commandments. But God does not affirm Elijah's egocentric desire in a replaying of the past. Rather, in appearing to Elijah as a whisper, he is calling into being a new vision of the holy ground where the ten commandments were given. As priest, I learn from this story that we need a new relationship with the ground, born out of an experience that is vision via listening.  115  A Poetic Pedagogy  Researcher's Journal (May, 1994) If you talk to the students who sit in the classes, and listen, you'd hear that the number one concern is something like: "my teacher is not the kind of person I want." I hear and read these kind of comments all the time: • • • • • • •  "She doesn't listen to me." "He doesn't give a damn if I'm there or not." "I'm just a number or a name." "She doesn't even know who I am." "He just treat me as a learner." "She just talks and ignores us." "None of us get any respect in the class."  Priestly pedagogy is different; it is a listening oriented to the other's voice, which denies the power to survey, the acquired narcissistic 118  sense to control objects, and ultimately calls for the delegitimation of our own voice.  119  things  Thus, when voices, like words, are no longer  we manipulate, listening becomes an experience outside 120  Clark Suzanne and Kathleen Hulley. (1991). "An Interview with Julia Kristeva: Cultural Strangeness and the Subject in Crisis." Discourse. 13(1). p. 151. 118  1 1 9  Levin, David. (1989). The Listening Self: Personal Growth, Social Change and the  Closure of Metaphysics. New York, N . Y : Routlege Press: p. 204. Bahktin, cb. Aoki, Ted. (1994). Course Lecture. Modern Languages 508b. University of British Columbia, July. 120  A Poetic Pedagogy  116  time and space. And once transitory and impermanent, each voice will elude being grasped, held, or possessed, and will be infinitely substantial.  121  Researcher's Journal (May, 1994) If we're deaf to what the student's are saying about themselves with word or gesture or even silence, we become unaware of why they do what they do. And, when we become unaware, we become ignorant, then uninvolved, cold, cynical and callous.  By attuning our ears to even the smallest vibrancies of sound, we begin to think about the possibility of developing our capacity for listening, and to give weight to the deeply inherent wisdom in it. Wisdom, the feminine sophia, is a different principle for thinking: the principle of paradox. So while acknowledging "life's original difficulty,"  122  wisdom is also a wholeness; so while forging  That listening can be both impermanent and infinitely substantial is a paradox of renewal. I remember this paradox best by a song I learned in grade three. The words and tune still escape, but the paradox still rings clear: if I keep a penny all to myself it will disappear, but if I share it, there will be plenty for all. Therefore, what is ever insubstantial (in other words, to be in substance) is paradoxically infinitely substantial. 121  1 2 2  Caputo, John. (1987). Radical Hermeneutics: Repetition, Deconstruction and the  Hermeneutic Project. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, p . l .  117  A Poetic Pedagogy  impermanence and denying a total grasp and possession, it is also, by nature, generative, concerned with the possibility of new life, embodied most profoundly in the holy whisper on holy ground.  123  Born out of wisdom is the power of true hearing, which is listening to the whispers, to the unsaid. By developing our listening we might overcome the blindness in visual knowledge and thus recognize needful changes. For Daignault, listening is a learning that opens a space for discovery: "I am discovering...with my ears a new soul: my audiotactile body is my soul, the undying trace of my education. " 124  Hearing, like the soul, is in a constant state of flux—a way that lets go, lets move, and lets change. A companion faith, hearing is 125  born out of wisdom. For we have less control over what we hear.  This possibility is not limited to a few elect or chosen, as Jardine (1994) says it "does not and simply cannot simply string along a chromosomal thread." Rather, all who are human (from humus), are part of this generativity for it "exhales outward into the whole Earth" (p. 46). 123  124  Daignault, Jacques. (1992). "Traces at Work from Different Places." In Curriculum as  Deconstructed and Phenomenological Text. p. 196.  As Levin (1989) says, hearing is intimate, participatory, communicative; we are always affected by what we are given to hear. Vision, by contrast, is distancing, detached, spatially separate from what gives itself to be seen (p. 32). 125  118  A Poetic Pedagogy  Hearing, etymologically from the Latin  obaudire,  means to listen  from below, perhaps in a relationship of respectful understanding. Because it is easier for us to remain untouched and unmoved by what we see than by what we hear, the future of phenomenological and hermeneutic pedagogical practice and research depends on the conversation of listening. Indeed, what we see is kept at a distance, but what we hear penetrates our entire body.  Researcher's Journal (January, 1995) To be a priest is education's real professional secret. To ignore this truth is educational neglect. We just can't lecture, not lift up our eyes, and treat students as background to our profession. We can't listen to their questions and comments as if they were static that interferes with out brilliant oration, and walk out the room. So many of us haven't made the time to listen. We've been too busy talking, working on our committees, and deliberately avoiding. We must take the time to actually "hear" the student. If I don't know that a student is worried about her father's health and may die, I will be less effective in teaching her and she will be less likely to learn.  As a priest, I probe the students as if each was a mystery to record. I cannot "solve" the mystery, but I want to recognize it and understand it as best I can, for my understanding, perception, imagination will affect the way I relate to that  A Poetic Pedagogy  119  student. I want to know what the student wants, expects, fear, worries about. It's easy for us to say what a student knows and describe what a student does. We all can do that blindfolded with one hand tied behind our backs while standing on our heads. All too many of us merely look at a lack of information and lack of skills, and ignore what the student feels. It's the difference between merely observing that, "Johnny can't read" and realizing that "Everyone is telling Johnny he is not smart enough to read." The problem is not that Johnny can't read, it's that he believes what everyone is telling him and doesn't try to read. I think we have so grossly underestimated the attitude with which students confront their education, and the impact such attitudes have on how they do in a class or during their entire class career, not to mention their lives. What kind of person they are, what they are feeling about themselves and others filters what they read and hear and do. I can't teach students or help them learn if I do not know what makes them tick. A good teacher listens and then addresses the student's feelings. It's humble and frightening to think that sometimes the compassionate teacher is the closest students come to having some kind of support. My mission is to share my understanding of the anxiety they feel, to help them feel something positive from what otherwise is a scary situation. I want each student to believe that they can do anything they want if they put their mind to it, to take charge of their circumstances, and through caring for themselves make a difference. Do we have the generosity to do this, the desire to do this, the patience to do this, the calling to do this?  The Pedagogy of King  121  A Poetic Pedagogy  D i s p e l l i n g M o d e r n i s t  N o t i o n s  1  2  6  Researcher's Journal (August 1994) / can't help but think that a teacher/king is a dictator— a teaching model from the "efficient" private sector. Each worker has a boss who controls his or her work life by fear and intimidation. Do what the boss wants or risk severe sanctions!  The teacher as a king was difficult to ascertain, requiring much rumination and elaboration. Of the three voices it has been subject to the most personal criticism, and though I assured myself that the kingly voice was servant-oriented, doubts often arose:  Introspection Each little stone placed perfectly encompasses the boundaries of my habitat the strong able leader am [I] to be followed  "Notions" in the sense of textiles; the bits and pieces of threads that offer promise but without the entire fabric amount to very little. 126  A Poetic Pedagogy  Many dance around this land I do not I am above and beyond they chant chanting for the king I raise my hand I am to be served, there is no challenge and there is no inquiry to my rule I am to be obeyed unquestioningly reverently  122  A Poetic Pedagogy  Staying After School three o' clock the second hand reaches out for the pinnacle of its journey threatening to swallow the little hand— the Teachers's face like a portrait stands stone etched in pink granite the room shudders and D rolls in he drops his books like bricks and slams the door as if it alone were responsible for his head ache. two professional boxers punch each other repeatedly in the face, blood and sweat glistening on the leather of their gloves  the Teacher's face appears a sword length, counting the clock allowing time to draw steel from its sheath what do you think you are doing? arms dance back and forth rhythmically to pride  123  (  A Poetic Pedagogy  congratulating this surge of wit loose fitting jeans a black jacket and a team ball cap D stands slouching forward looking at the ground waiting for a roar daring it to come to stick its head in his mouth The bell sounds and the boxers come out of their corners, to resume hitting each other the taller of the two with red shorts with slightly less than the average number of teeth catches the other on the chin with a jab and sends him stumbling back against the ropes  why did you do it? probably out smoking, drugs and shoplifting the Teacher spits the words across the room hitting D in the face get off my back! you can't make me stay the Teacher is ready tongue a gas can poised and poisoned go ahead...quit!  124  125  A Poetic Pedagogy  they stand, statues from a mad sculptor ice cutting from frost the ring commentator says something about how each fighter is undefeated, how the champ is getting old, and how the title could go either way  the blows coming slower and less rhythmically in the end it is a draw unsatisfied, the fighters shake hands and return bloodied to their corners Researcher's Journal (August 1994) Schools are too often held together by coercion and intimidation by well-meaning people burdened by unjust cultural traditions and social history. Because many prefer this system, believing it "efficient," the authoritarian model is still the overwhelmingly dominant mode of education, and most teachers like it that way. If I were to advocate a teacher/king, wouldn't some read into my thesis justifications that I don't believe myself? 127  I write realizing I am going against the current; that I am confronting and trying to modify 12 years of learning habits ingrained by an educational system that generally does not educate once it gets passed the 5th grade; that I am confronting personal and social baggage; and that I am struggling against the neutralizing impact of my more traditional subject-oriented colleagues. 127  A Poetic Pedagogy  126  Still, I must expose the tendency for teachers to accept their positions in organizational hierarchies with little reflection on the consequences for their quality of life or the quality of their self-governance. To do that, the modernist conceptions of king must be deconstructed—otherwise classrooms will continue to teach children the importance of accepting a dependent power relationship, passing on the paternalism without reflection. It would be much easier if the path were marked out for me. Sometimes I feel like I'm building this thesis on sand...  The Sand the sand shifted blowing into waves dry hot waves which shift and cover dry hot bodies turned to leather by the sun grey bones glinting through grey skin grey skulls smile and greet me the wind is blowing the sand whipping it into waves with frothy tops that crash all around me I reach out and feel the coolness of a hand which cracks and becomes dust that fills my eyes my eyes are gone  A Poetic Pedagogy  127  changed to dust and I can feel the empty sockets with my hand which is brittle and grey it is the desert only there are walls in this desert walls which never end and never join but venture into infinity the sand also never ends but continues forever shifting in the wind and shaping cosmic patterns to be read by lines I am trapped in the sand waves that have no beginning and no end Exposing my doubts requires humility. Whenever I hear a tyrant in my kingly voice, I offer this simple reminder: I am not yet the teacher I want to be, and most likely will never be. I must remind myself that teaching is a dwelling in the in-between, not some outside style or technique or technology. This reminding, like re-writing, does not offer peace or ease, but ensures that from within a space of tension will spring renewal, and there is much within yet to be explored; learning and growing are unending, lifelong processes, not  128  A Poetic Pedagogy  results or destinations. Those believing a classroom is marked by progress towards definable goals will miss the rich tones of the kingly voice. Aoki has written a text partly devoted to showing teachers how they might replace the reliance on modernist methods that is not a method but "bits" of living. His recent thinking contrasts patriarchal notions, 128  their use directed to consensus, with a postmodern expectation that a classroom will have diverging opinions. The implication is that the kingly voice, while trusting in persuasive rhetoric, cannot argue from a point of knowing, but must accept that information is always provisional, growing, in the midst of renewal. Further, the teacher/king must abandon "grand narratives, "with their emphasis on a unified conception of language arts, science, philosophy, and so on, in favour of "little narratives," extracted from personal insight and local experience. For the teacher/king these are  1 2 8  A o k i , Ted. (1993). Legitimating Lived Curriculum: Towards a Curricular Landscape of  Multiplicity. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision. 8(3): 255-268.  129  A Poetic Pedagogy  implicating, but necessary suggestions: this means consideration 129  of alternative points of view, with particular attention to minorities and divergent issues. It means realizing that the imperatives of the real, the actual, are no longer in contest with our desired meaning. It means that different times and circumstances will so slant a given topic to be at once recurring and unresolvable. Thus, finding the 130  "true" story, that discovery of the "real meaning" within or behind the events that come in the form of "historical records," is not the only production of truth, rather it is one of many plays  131  enacted in  different situations for different reasons.  Necessary, because the eschatological nature of kingship presupposes that kings must first be servants. It is impossible to be a servant without sacrificing one's pride in the power of the preferred or desired meaning, a meaning which the king is tempted to hold with unquestioning authority. 129  In comparing grand narratives with "little narratives" it is important to expose the modernist distinction between exegesis and eisegesis. Exegesis draws (or leads) the truth out of the text; eisegesis imposes the reader's beliefs upon or reads them into the text. Traditionally, no confusion is permitted between these two. It is an ethical distinction: exegesis respects the integrity of the text, and eisegesis does not. Metaphysics is also involved: the text contains a truth within it, which the skilful reader can extract more or less undamaged, and without imposing too many preconceptions upon it. The text is in some way connected to reality—a reality which is outside of the text (extratextual)—and it is this reality which grounds the proper meaning of the text, inside of the text. 130  Clark, Suzanne and Hulley, Kathleen. (1991). " A n Interview with Julia Kristeva: Cultural Strangeness and the Subject in Crisis." Discourse. 13(1). p. 150. 131  A Poetic Pedagogy  Games The score love fifteen I am serving as always You are winning as always Your eyes waiting distant not playing but winning I'm trying now to throw down my racket and quit It's funny how in a tennis game love is equal to nothing I think it's time to play doubles find a partner not an opponent  130  131  A Poetic Pedagogy  T h e  K i n g d o m  R e l a t i o n o f P r o p h e t  a n d  P r i e s t  Thin Black Smiles I picked up an eyelash resting on your cheek let it lie motionless on my finger a sophisticated curve Blow it, you said Make a wish and  I nodded breathing the thin black smile back to you seeing no end to the dreams falling from your eyes  In the Old Testament there is one inter-testamental book in which the picture of a priestly King is drawn. In 200 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes made a deliberate and savage attempt to wipe out Judaism, but the Maccabees (then High Priests), against incredible odds saved their people, and emerged not only as heroes but as kings— quite an unusual position in the life of the Jewish community. It was not a situation of which all Jews approved, but at the same time the kingship and the priesthood became amalgamated. 132  A Poetic Pedagogy  I Am Timeless Hope I never run out: though filled with dust and bones grey bones that are brittle and break grey skulls smile and greet me  132  133  A Poetic Pedagogy  The relationship between prophet, priest, and king is largely eschatological. Eschatology, not by definition but by experience, is an attitude of wishmaking: forward looking and forward moving. To understand it, we must live it from first to last—not merely in the epilogue. For like a good wish, it is not just for the future but revolutionizes and transforms our ways of seeing and hearing the present. In this sense wishmaking is inaugurated. As well, eschatology must not be thought of as something only found in Biblical times: it cannot simply mean biblical doctrine of the last things.  133  Pedagogical eschatology refers to effects in relation to the individual that are still to happen. It includes all "forward living;" 134  135  and  Though the bible and intertestamental literature contain a variety of eschatological ideas, eschatology, strictly, is a non-biblical term. The term comes from two Greek words, eschatos, meaning "end" or "last parts of existence" or "final days" or "final periods in our lives;" and logos, which has a wide range of meanings, among other things, "voice, word, saying, reason, message, discourse, teaching, explanation, conversation, question, reckoning, account, settlement, value, charge, matter, thing, and book." 133  A l l educators are concerned with the future "blessings" of their students. In so doing, the teacher lives "forwardly" where past and present are filled with kingdom language: this is the space between prophet and priest and king. 134  Essentially, pedagogical eschatology is characteristic of all teaching and of the existence of every relationship. 135  A Poetic Pedagogy  134  therefore, by nature, eschatological teaching engenders hope.  136  Not a hope that just prepares students for the future, but a hope that encourages and upholds students in the spaces of difficulty of their daily living.  Wrestling with Hope I kept the fibre carefully woven in journals now, when I weave you streak away my fingers stretch across a white space filled with stale responses an impenetrable snow-fort that doesn't melt even when I try to embrace the text of your life— 137  The image here is midwifery, where the pedagogue is bringing out a hope that has always already existed. 136  Pedagogical eschatology is underhanded when teachers doubt the individuality of their students. Teachers must learn in the greatest distress to rely on the students' ability alone. This is not to suggest there is any lack of love and fidelity, it is only to underline that when catastrophe comes, students should not be anticipating a teacher's intervention. To be 137  A Poetic Pedagogy  The Original Difficulty I am afraid of putting you in my pocket along with all the coffee quarters and old interims Hopeless never to get out and never dissolve I am afraid it will happen again My self assurance spilling down the edges of the bathtub drain you to walk on eggshells to float on your way towards the sun  eschatologically oriented is not a promise to protect from, but to be with.  135  A Poetic Pedagogy  136  A Firmness of Purpose (Researcher's Journal, November 1995) To engender hope in however a small way is not a small thing; the greatest mistake I make is doing too little because the results seem so small. I must keep before me the resounding reminder that to have guarantees is a stale and deadening faith. It takes a firmness of purpose, but I must continue to serve my students not knowing when I engender hope, and to what depth that hope will become an attitude of wishmaking. I mentioned this to a friend of mine, and her reaction to my message of hope is also a message of hope: I found your note motivational and, in a way, a deciding factor for the future of my career. I have always thought and told people that I am getting my teaching certification because I wanted something to fall back on in case I didn't get a "real job" when I graduate. Many people, including my family, see a science degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry as a money-making tool. I saw it as a subject in which I had interest and could probably find myself a good job where I could be happy doing the things I love. Teaching wasn't really considered except as an alternative. I was almost embarrassed by my peaks in enthusiasm for teaching because I never knew how much I could give students; more than just information, but personal growth by way of treating them with respect. Your note has made a very big difference in how I see teaching now. I am proud to say that I do think this may be the fulfilling career choice that I have always sought — something that would make me feel that I was doing more with my life that just earning money. I started reading her message in a matter-of-fact fashion. Very quickly I was engrossed by a total, immobile, stunned silence. I would be less than honest to say some tears trickled down my cheeks as each word passed ever more slowly before my eyes. I reread it with such  137  A Poetic Pedagogy  a profound and quiet sense of fulfillment, love, and, humility. To realize the impact one human being can have on another is indeed humbling and overwhelming. I have always said that to touch a student is to change the world. It is a nurturing feeling that I wish and want all to feel, for it is a feeling that makes it all worth it.  Engendering hope is difficulty not easily overcome. It is a messy, tangled, and knotty pedagogy that requires a firmness of purpose and a heart of long suffering. In the eschatology of the Old Testament these specific relational concepts are embodied by the 138  coming Redeemer, who was not only a prophet and priest, but 139  also a suffering servant-king. The concept, "suffering servant" appears frequently in Isaiah, and is poignantly pictured in chapter fifty-three, where he is wounded, bruised, and chastised for the people he serves.  Though a search into the biblical history of eschatology will bring rich tones and textures to any pedagogical tapestry, there is little possibility in creating a theological text for pedagogy. There can be no theological text because the text is the trace which escapes onto-theological closure (closure of the "volume," of the "work") even as it inscribes it. 138  In the tragedy of eating from the tree of life is also a promise. Often called the "mother promise," it sets the tone for the entire Old Testament. The enmity placed between humanity and the serpent implies that God, who is also the serpent's enemy, will be a friend. In the prediction that ultimately the seed of woman will bruise the serpent, is the promise of a coming redeemer. And from this point on, the whole of Old Testament revelation is forward looking. 139  138  A Poetic Pedagogy  This is the heart of interpretive inquiry. For though I did not enter teaching to serve, through dialogical, poetical, autobiographical interactions, those elements in society which previously devalued the meaning  140  meaning.  141  of  serving,  gave way  to  profoundly  renewed  In my case, that teaching, like all living, is  eschatological, and should be born in an attitude of wishmaking.  Derrida, Jacques. (1978). "Force and Signification." Writing and Difference. Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 140  The hope of this kind of inquiry is the revealing power of its call, drawing renewed meaning from what has always already been there. For whenever one supposes to grasp, to name, or to see, of course, things reflow never exactly the same as they were before. Inevitable things are slightly different from how they have just been. Being only slightly different, there is a trace of what has been that is now more understandable, more meaningful, more connected. 141  A Poetic Pedagogy  The Principal's Garden When I walked through the garden there a girl sat on the grass around her grew rose bushesshe was watching them bloom I'd heard from a friend that she was fading out of school Near the garden was a chapel whose clock rang out the time in chimes at every hour After a while the girl came less often to sit on the grass and watch the roses bloom soon she stopped coming and the roses began to wither I'd heard she quit quietly in her sleep and that the funeral was later this afternoon at the chapel whose chimes she'd heard every day I watched at a distance the mourners come and go and at sunset when all was quiet I carefully cut the last blooming rose and laid it on her desk it was hers, in a way, after all  139  Endings  141  A Poetic Pedagogy  N o t  Legacy of the Elusive illuminated in the setting sun, they appear as angels between the trees; I know they would eat me alive but I long to run through them or be one of them between sun and moon in twilight illuminated  a P e r m a n e n t  S t a t e  142  A Poetic Pedagogy  Meaning is always elusive, or problematic. This is a central theme of my inquiry. And so I end this text with a beginning: what is it to be a Christian English teacher, and a prophet, priest, and king from within the spaces of "Christian" and "English" and "teacher?" This question has insistently called from many deeper and deeper layers within my own vocation. To me, this question does not end a narrative/textual inquiry, but always begins lived experiences already left too long unexamined and unquestioned; it also begins a lifetime of always questioning the texture of being, of already who I have become and am daily becoming, and to which pedagogical spaces I belong. I cannot simply close the book or wash my hands of this inquiry. It is no longer possible to stand definitively against time and in some final reverie proclaim "It is finished."  142  Because of this,  Such a stance is even now a temptation; for like the magi in Eliot's poem "Journey of the Magi" I want to end this journey with a written testimony that authenticates my experience. This, however, would not serve to renew the prophet, priest, and king vocation, but foreclose it. 142  143  A Poetic Pedagogy  I return to the initial question not to frame a method from which an answer might be realized, but to acknowledge the mutability of questions and answers.  143  With inspiration I cannot expect answers;  more often the interplay between these questions calls more questions into being, which is the emerging nature of this inquiry. Not surprisingly more questions are called: what is my title? my vocation? do I completely forget my right to being? To raise such questions invites continual reflection not only on the voices of prophet, priest, and king, but because of the implicit and specific cultural conventions in communication, such questions also invite 144  tension into the very nature of pedagogy and, possibly, even on the nature of humanity itself. Before beginning this inquiry, I would not have presumed to question such an emerging tension, nor would I have wanted to. I was content with the less controversial, understanding myself as an  143  Gadamer, H . G . (1989). Truth and Method. New York: Continuum Books.  Barthes, Roland. (1988). The Semiotic Challenge. Trans. Richard Howard. New York H i l l and Wang. 144  A Poetic Pedagogy  144  educator who is also a Christian, or a Christian that teaches, depending on my particular mindset and situation. This appears to be a mere paraphrasing, with little semantic differentiation. However, what I have noticed is that in separation there is no intimacy. By separating the terms "Christian" and "Educator" I had reduced a controversial tension, but had lost my ability to hear the deepdwelling and intimate voices of prophet, priest, and king. Without the forcing of tension there is no intimacy, and the renewing nature of juxtaposition and paradox are removed. Over the course of this writing, amidst graduate courses and daily journaling, I have become alertly conscious of the difficulty and fortune of living between Christianity and English and teaching. But at this point of difficulty was the greatest potential for exploration; at this point of self-risk was the greatest potential for self-discovery; for in this space of tension emerged the voices of prophet, priest, and king. Voices which created further spaces (or breathing places) from where I might enhance my understanding of self, it was no accident, it was the possibility of opening myself.  A Poetic Pedagogy  145  What does it mean to open myself? In one sense it is much like dwelling in the depths, in the inner-most portion of my soul—but more. According to Jardine, remaining open is to create a place for renewal. He says that hermeneutics cannot be deeply understood through a historical, linguistic, and cultural interpretation...[this is] dusty and deadened talk. [Being open] is hoping for the reenlivenment of human life. 145  Renewal, growing from amidst the voices and questions, was the "bits of living" created through reflective rewriting (i.e. journaling). It is and was an approach that finds meaning in the experience of inquiry, the creation of new meaning through misreading.  146  In the journal the voices of prophet, priest, and king  created spaces from within layers and textures of meaning where "the eruption of something new"  147  145  enhanced my understanding of "the  Jardine, David. (1992). "Reflections on Education, Hermeneutics, and Ambiguity." In  Understanding Curriculum as Deconstructed and Phenomenological Text. New York: Teachers  College Press, p. 120. 146  147  Press.  The reader is made possible by the misplacing of the word which is writing. Jardine, David. (1994). Speaking With a Boneless Tongue. Bragg Creek, A B : Mayko  A Poetic Pedagogy  146  call of teaching." These voices promoting change were a means 148  to facilitate not fixed meanings but new meanings.  Aoki, Ted. (1993). The Call of Teaching. The British Columbia Teacher's Federation.  147  A Poetic Pedagogy  H a r k e n i n g  t o t h e  N o t e s  Because my playing out of the voices of prophet, priest, and king seemed to align with deconstructivist approaches, I have often found that Derrida's voice was and is interwoven with my own, and like David Jardine's, advocates the search and re-searching of shifting meanings in text; for without signification, all text has always already said what it does not mean and meant what it has not said. Derrida's perplexity about the necessity and the inaccuracy of language is 149  manifested in a state explored earlier by Heidegger, called sous (under erasure). A word  sous rature  rature  is crossed out, yet remains  legible. It will not do, but one cannot do without it. Such a realm of possibility was and is nurtured in my poetry. Through poetic metaphor there was an unfolding not only of the musicality of the voices of prophet, priest, and king, but also the  Derrida thinks that traditional philosophy binds and distorts our thinking about the relations between self-consciousness, thought, and language. Traditional thought about these matters promotes a number of powerful and yet unspoken assumptions that have blinded modernists to the deceptive nature of speech and writing and their role in human activities. 149  148  A Poetic Pedagogy  autobiographic exploring of the "other" significant points in language.  150  Here is a realm beyond generalizability and abstract  knowings. For it is a tonal discourse, favouring the ear over the visions and intimations of the eye.  151  Like Jacques Daignault, I find that understanding text as "notation" has restored the lost art of hearing writing.  152  rhythm and rest  in  In "Traces at Work" Daignault's metaphor connecting  a musical composer with a textual composer has opened my ears to the voices of prophet, priest, and king. The development of his metaphor rests on the assertion that whether in music or writing, the composer always already is an "expressing." That is to say that the composer (in this text the prophet, priest, and king) is not a person, not even any form of individual, collective or transcendental consciousness. For Daignault, the composer is nothing but an 150 "other" as understood by Julia Kristeva is not much different from Derrida's concept of difference. Both recognize the creative power of language when it resists closure. 1 5 1  Levin, David. (1989). The Listening Self: Personal Growth, Social Change and the  Closure of Metaphysics. New York, N Y : Routlege Press. 152  Daignault, Jacques. (1992). "Traces at Work from Different Places." In Curriculum as  Deconstructed and Phenomenological Text. p. 197.  149  A Poetic Pedagogy  interplay of an analyzer and of a synthesizer.  153  The analyzer  loosens or shakes what is taken for granted or labelled as truth, while the synthesizer adds to the dynamic of time and/or movement. Thus, in the dynamic interplay of both is the possibility of the continual emergence of new "expresseds." It is in this space of dynamic interplay that the expressing creates expressions Daignault calls "notes." Notes are expressions embedded with meaning, manifest in symbolic order, but "not reducible to signs and significations." Notes are not signs in the sense of what defines language; they do not belong to any language. Daignault points out that notes simply "subsist" in language. And because notes subsist they cannot exist. By implication, my inquiry into prophet, priest, and king cannot exist either. What I write cannot be a text because there is nothing expressed. Daignault would prefer to think of my inquiry as an agent in the subconscious, but not a something outside the text. It is not as Daignault's understanding of composer as "expressing" is another move toward the continuing problematization of the ego which is to eventually end with the death of the author. Indeed, nobody is the composer. 153  150  A Poetic Pedagogy  the phenomenologist might understand it,  154  but more like a Utopia  of subconscious—the non-symbolic par excellence. Prophet, priest, and king are, therefore, in the text as a weave of interlacing signs and notes, as a postconceptual experience of the world which depends on language for subsistence. Therefore, after a year of writing and re-writing, searching and re-searching, what I am left with is an assemblage of subsisting notes that cannot "be" but a pure virtuality never expressed. We might say that this thesis is free of the resistance of language and knowledge, but found in language and thinking. According to Daignault, 155  thinking is the bridge between the expressing's self consciousness and the subject of education. Thinking is the incarnation...of composition; it is what gives birth to an assemblage of notes...Hence, an assemblage of notes is a kind of test for its author about his or her contribution, as an expressing, to the composer's creativity and therefore to a better world. 156  The phenomenological assumption is that composition is a preconceptual experience, and that this experience is a foundation for what is authentic in writing. 154  155  156  For composition, as suggested above, cannot pre-exist language. Daignault, Jacques. (1992). "Traces at Work from Different Places." In Curriculum as  Deconstructed and Phenomenological Text. p. 199.  151  A Poetic Pedagogy  When Daignault says a "better" world he means the composer's composition, which is a matter of thinking but not a production of knowledge. If Daignault is right, there will be no determining what exactly prophet, priest, and king entails—for there will be no knowledge—everything will resist determination. The re-writing of prophet, priest, and king, then, will have little to do with determining the best way to teach, and research into it, likewise, can only tell us that composition continues to subsist. Thus, rather than trying to bridge the gaps between Christian and English and teacher, rather than try to eliminate the distance between sign and signifier, this inquiry  celebrates  my experiences,  157  (the  spaces between  "Christianity" and "English" and "teacher"), and recognizes that from within my experience is the opportunity for discovery and rediscovery, not only for my prophet, priest, and kingly voices, but for teachers in general. The implication for pedagogy is that it forces us to take note of voices often ignored in the establishment of educational priorities. Indeed, according to Donald Murry (1991), all writing is autobiographical (p.66).  152  A Poetic Pedagogy  Re-thinking the textures, tones, and voices that are politically or socially invisible helps us get away from the "univocal" often attending centralized, fundamentalist teaching practice. At the same time, there remains a paradox teachers must continue to address: no matter how widespread the popular, academic notions, one must not promote them by falling into the essentialist trap of assuming those are the attitudes. As Jardine warns, There is a paradox: perhaps renewal requires our providing room, providing a foundation that is denied in renewal. [But] perhaps the antifoundationalism of later hermeneutics and deconstructionism is an attempt to take over renewal for ourselves. 158  It is a legitimate warning. Deconstructionists must be ready and willing for inevitable deconstructing of deconstruction.  158  Jardine, David (1992). "Reflections on Education, Hermeneutics, and Ambiguity." In  Understanding Curriculum as Deconstructed and Phenomenological Text. New York: Teachers  College Press.  A Poetic Pedagogy  Harkening Space is the face of the wind turn back to see what is left proximity has no face only metaphor for what is literally true the slope of sunlight distorts a dustmote climbs as if it were the ladder to a firmer sight unlight with sadness or aught else there is what can't be seen, but felt the act of defining things unnecessary, even as it passes into obscurity, the slipped disc of the sun declining into a marsh as flat as paper. II  What we feel is not so clear, words clotting as soon as formed, but making a field in which to talk about it nothing else holds us together and yet nothing is so difficult to remember like a lake whose shores denote no difference it teaches us the art  153  A Poetic Pedagogy  of recollection in reliving rewriting wisdom as the applied memory that mediates between the present and what constructed it the past's most certain contingencies III Have we got to the point where poems think out their implications, not stopping for sunsets the dislocations of place, which refigure the self in ways we can never know there no thinking but in music, the notes the force of counterpoint like an ever moving system, never stopping, even for history, the substance of time without spirit? sometimes I balk at that thought that poems create apart from themselves anything except the momentary glimmers undefinable, outside intuition, the sideways surfaces of words turned like rear-view mirrors to catch the sight of nothing but sunlight on the concrete like shadow-boxers  154  A Poetic Pedagogy  IV The shifting current of sadness and happiness are less shared than shareable, the yellow plain of being together but sunlight, the flakes of food in a fishbowl, sifting downward from surface into depth, a metaphor so simple it must be true. V Late morning—none content from all folds, gaps there come screeches, and the dull monotone of a territorial imperative somewhere being violated by me? I feel immune from the danger that narrows to a symphony of noise until silence seems the barest nostalgia; abstraction is the mind's own silence retreat from danger the predator's cave when I go there I hardly notice what it is I'm leaving the thought of leaving  155  A Poetic Pedagogy  an old fear that what one leaves one loses easier to write that pronoun as if one could transcend the selfishness defining us self-creation having no rules but those we write as we go along VI As these lines go on they lose substance, as cities their suburbs gathering strength for the inevitable implosions and inept expositions that lack a landscape no landscape, finally, is necessary though it gives names for who we are and doesn't tease us hence VII The loneliness desolate even in the midst of plenty what we take never give back except in the names we affix to signs that mean less than we want always someone there before us, taking away what had never promised to be like the rivers  156  A Poetic Pedagogy that wend their way through valleys dotted by the shells of houses, trailers, the paraphernalia of rootedness without reasons  VIII The irony of exile virtue in language reduced to its negative white houses set like teeth in a jaw that knows silence not as the lack of speech but as its substitute the exhilaration of roller-coaster rides to replace the near-ecstasy of the heretic who can't abandon the old language of the church: dusted our shoulders like butterflies threatening decadence with origins substituting our history for praise, we forget the inevitable mediocrity of origins instances of doubt choosing to hold to the old stories forgotten, like those who show us not heroes born of conflict but emblematic standers-in being in division for its own sake because we cannot do otherwise, knowing that the sun never sets twice in the same  157  A Poetic Pedagogy  way, except when you give memory access to the desire that exacts a toll every image it delivers IX spontaneity and sorrow I used to think them linked an umbilical that draws the present into disjointed futures, where what's past is best the nostalgia in which one loves the past precisely because it could have been better lived an odd disjunction arises between my old Self so long at the center of things careering off-course as effectively as a race car with a broken axle and my present one (certainly not new, just more consistent) with and in its past incarnations perhaps such pedantic visions are merely prologue to the epic that comes after, when the desired exile is restored,  158  A Poetic Pedagogy  literal this time, not some further ism of the mind  X  Whatever we remember we forget it here nearby a spring burrows through the hill a clear vein and it takes work to see how simplicity becomes so strange so in cahoots with all the subtle grammar of the seasons and how we ever forgot this immured to a landscape rendered more strange making words to govern it as the frame of a picture implies closure even i f you know there are other fields to walk and love the complexity of simple things take this bumblebee its traffic pattern evident, though unmeasurable, stitching an invisible cord between the pollen's collocations as i f there were no other anywhere  159  A Poetic Pedagogy  abstraction, then, is either too easy or too difficult must be implicated in the radical fact of the world its gardens no emblem of simplicity but an achieved grace camouflaged by our willingness to accept it at face-value and to read ourselves as the players on its stage no wonder it takes so long to know oneself at all since we are less categorical than inspired no throw of the dice is unexpected and nothing anymore astonishes, although we've long ago been estranged from every assumption there ever was  160  161  A Poetic Pedagogy  REFERENCES Aichele, George. 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