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Travelling Together

I finished reading a book by Jacques Rancière and am reading another by Emmanuel Levinas. Their philosophic writings suggest a preexisting ethical condition exists in when encountering another person. There is an empathic quality calling humans to walk in the other’s shoes as we encounter each other.

In my dissertation, I argue a teacher’s subjectivity forms in placing themselves in relationship with others, students and topics. Rancière argued humans take part in life, and are not merely external observers at a spectacle. Teaching is relational and is one where the relating with students and topics is the matter that matters.

W.S. Merwin’s poem proposes even when separated humans can wait on the other person’s side of things. In mindfulness and attentiveness, humans place themselves in the shoes of the other. Today, as I read, talked to my advisor, and chatted with Kathy a question came to mind. What has happened in the world today that we struggle with the ethical and empathic living that might heal the world we live in?

If we are separated I will
try to wait for you
on your side of things

your side of the wall and the water
and of the light moving at its own speed
even on leaves that we have seen
I will wait on one side

while a side is there

About ivonprefontaine

I have been an educator for almost 20 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry for 15 years, then returned to university to earn my education degree. For the past 11 years, I have been a co-creator of learning in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. A main theme in my learning there has been the roles of systems thinking, complexity theory, and organizational theory, and how they apply to education generally and the learning environment I share with students, parents, and colleagues.

11 responses »

  1. Enlightening read at early morning…thank you for this

    Reply
  2. Merwin! We do share some taste in poets, for sure!

    Reply
  3. Good question.

    Reply
  4. I think that some of what’s happened is that we’ve lost the luxury of time to cogitate, meditate, contemplate on our relationships. For example, when I was a child, I wrote letters to loved ones. The composition of those letters, thinking of what to share and how to phrase it, imagining the other person’s reactions and thoughts to my news, and then anticipating and awaiting the responses, were a huge part of the relationships I had. Today, with voice mail, e-mail, texting, skyping, and all the other modes of instant communication that are available to us, the emphasis seems to be on responding quickly instead of thinking through and savoring the exchange. Thanks Ivon. It’s good to think through! xoxoM

    Reply
    • Yes, we have lost those things. I used to write letters to family and friends. It was engrained in the way we lived and we used to look forward to the responses. I would walk to the post office in subzero weather for letters I knew were coming back. Somehow, we need to rediscover the time which allows us to compose our lives in meditative and contemplative ways.

      Reply
  5. Great to see Ranciere and Levinas being name-checked in approaching the other and spiritual practice. Am enjoying your blog muchly!

    Reply
    • Thank you. I found my way to Ranciere and Levinas through Gert Biesta’s writing. He is an educational-philosopher who uses them and others i.e. Arendt, Derrida, and Dewey in his writing on education vs. School.

      Reply

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