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Delight in Disorder

Dissertation topics emerge, move to the fore, sink back, and are always a process. Mine is no different. I found material this week on the way K-12 curriculum comes to be. One of the books is about a post-modernist perspective on curriculum. Teachers and students co-create the learning within a matrix or frame provided. There is no expectation of clear and definable products at the beginning. Learning is messy. It is a rich conversation.

Robert Herrick, an 18th English poet, provided a metaphor for learning with a rushed dressing of a person, in this case a young woman. Learning is an art, an imprecise art which requires mistakes along the way and continuous refining that is never quite finished. It seems to get better with time. In that disorder, learners and teachers merge.

A sweet disorder in the dress

Kindles in clothes a wantonness:

A lawn about the shoulders thrown

Into a fine distraction,

An erring lace, which here and there

Enthrals the crimson stomacher,

A cuff neglectful, and thereby

Ribbands to flow confusedly,

A winning wave (deserving note)

In the tempestuous petticoat,

A careless shoe-string, in whose tie

I see wild civility,

Do more bewitch me, then when art is

Is too precise in very part.


About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

20 responses »

  1. An inspired poem. I used this for the title of my spiritual memoir about battling bipolar – “Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission.” I doubt Herrick had mental illness in mind when he wrote the poem, but it works so well.

  2. I don’t think I have any mental illness, but this describes what I loved most about teaching. The joy of co-creating learning with my students. We are all ever learning. Kids get excited when you are doing it together. There is a need to be knowledgeable, but a greater need is to be able to learn something new with your students as they learn for themselves. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. ‘Learning is messy’ – what a great reminder as I finish a hectic week!

  4. Messy is creativity…

  5. Chaos is a part of life, and a factor in personal growth.

  6. Ah, yes how the dissertation topics ebb and flow. Students as co-creators reminds me of Neill and Summerhill, the student-centered experiment in learning. Still a great book about student empowerment. I have to go and look but I think there is still a Summerhill School.

  7. I heartily agree. Imperfections are approachable, unique, adorable…perfection illusory at best.

    His writing is like tatting–so intricate and fine and other-era…

  8. Thank you for this lovely post, and for introducing me to this poet! Where have I been? This poem is a marvel, and I also appreciate your tying it in with the fact that ‘learning is messy’. Wonderfully put, Ivon! Blessings, Gina

  9. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

    This is beautiful! Taking time to read slowly it brings me back to my petticoats and crenolines of days gone by. ๐Ÿ™‚


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