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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Education to nurture the soul : an interpretive study of a professional leadership institute for librarians Brockmeyer-Klebaum, Donna


The purpose of this study was to capture, describe and interpret an adult education experience that moves learners in an emotional, soulful and spiritual way. Profound and deep learning was revealed through comments such as: This has been one of the most profound experiences of my life; and, Those five days were pure magic. These comments are the result of experiences at Northern Exposure to Leadership (NEL), which is a continuing, adult learning experience for professional librarians. The Institute uses senior librarians to serve as mentors and facilitators, and is a five-day, residential Institute held every eighteen months at Emerald Lake Lodge, near Field, British Columbia, Canada. This research is explored within an adult education framework, which is steeped in a rich tradition of creating caring learning communities that honour the histories of learners, listen to their individual voices, and allow for alternative ways of learning and knowing. This analysis and interpretation is set within a broader social context of individual, global and cosmic alienation, and the demise and loss of soul evident in a manufactured, technical and commodified world. The research indicates that soul in education is nurtured through: relationships with mentors, peers and self; the creation of a professional, caring community; ceremony, symbol and the sacred; risk; struggle and disclosure; ethics; creativity and imagination; physical environment; residential factors of seclusion and shared accommodations; and the use of a variety of teaching methods with a concentration on experiential learning. The confluence of these factors affects careers and lives of learners on a long-term basis. Ultimately, it is asserted that attention to soul in education elicits an emotional, spiritual and physical response that is affirming for all involved. Soulful approaches breathe life into education and infuse learners with energy, vitality and enthusiasm, and, in the case of NEL, is creating a collegial community with librarianship.

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