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Can one really teach what one does not know?

I feel humbled in comparison. The idea of walking in another’s shoes comes to life in this story. It is more than a story. It is what Levinas called substitution for the Other, the ultimate taking responsibility and empathy.

Shechaim's News of the Day

Local teacher living homeless for month talks to WFTV

Can one really teach what one does not know?

If you have really been reading my postings about my people you know the answer.

Did this moving story give you any ideas?

Leave it to a teacher to put a little sanity into a politically corrupt state.

Before you read this, think about a law stating that any government official or one thinking of becoming a government official spend a minimum of 3 days in this teachers shoes!

“What’s it like? It is horrible,” Rebman said.

It’s been just 11 days since the Orange County teacher started his homelessness project.

“Here we are 11 days in and I have less than $2 in my pocket. I really don’t know how my days are going to go. I thought it wouldn’t be this difficult as it’s been,” Redman said.

“People demean…

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About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

12 responses »

  1. Here is a book which details a similar experience of homelessness. It also explains how,the second most important person in a Japanese zendo is the cook.

    Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master’s Lessons in Living a Life That Matters
    Bernard Glassman (Author), Rick Fields (Author)
    This is one of Maezumi Roshi’s first disciple, a Soto Zen Buddhist Monk.
    He went to New York and mindfully bought a warehouse, remodeled it for apartment living, added a bakery, common areas, then with a few colleagues became homeless for a few days to experience the situation.
    He found it took so much more energy just to get up and get somewhere. Mindfully he purchased used furniture and empowered the selected families he chose to live in this building. He gave them Monopoly money so they could purchase, select the furniture from the pool he bought. They got to purchase, assume ownership of this furniture, it was not just furnished apartments ready for occupancy, they had established ties to their selection. Fascinating how much better we will take care of and protect something we select, own and not something over there.

    He set up training programs so residents could assume responsibility for the bakery. Apprenticeships, leading to independence, security, success, confidence, support, direction.
    He let them police each other and be part of decisions. He provided daycare, education and some assumed the nursery responsibility.

    It was like a small city of hope he gave families a chance, responsibility, training, encouragement and mindful training available.
    .we have many wonderful stories like this, our media chooses to show the horrible violent crimes every day, instead.

    We need not go,so far to give, buy a bag of apples, some corners have hungry humans, homeless in need, small things make big differences.
    One step farther buy an extra bag of apples and give a friend, explain what they are for and see their reaction.

    • There is a similar project in Winnipeg based on the work of St. Francis of Assisi. The people who set it up found that when given opportunities to do people responded to responsiblity by taking it. The French philosopher Jacques Ranciere suggested we learn abstract concepts such as compassion and democracy in the give and take of life than in classes.

      • Is that called apprenticeship in some ways
        Actual hands on real world learning and living

        Funny how Jesuits and meditation and prayer are similar

      • It is similar to apprenticeship and has a strong community feel to it. We never have so little it cannot be shared.

      • I was wondering where the bag of apples comment would fall, with your extensive readership, would someone respond and get the concept that small action trumps bookcases of novels and hours of discussion.

        Action separates men, I see as I grow old.

        My day yesterday started with discovering the three and half year old grandson threw the keys somewhere, $201.00 and three hours later, the front passenger tire was flat, parked on a hill, me with just operated on foot took an hour, then an hour and a half at the tire center.
        This would have destroyed my sanity, launched me on a rant, having me pass out judgments like jelly beans, but it did not.

        On the way home, stopped at a red light, a homeless 60ish woman stared at me. Mi reached over and grabbed two elegant Granny Smith apples. She lit up with gratitude.

        I shared with her how I take my Grandkids out and teach them what giving is about.

        This homeless lady, tells me don’t people know giving always comes back around.
        She just made my day, showed me these challenges were just that.
        Lots of happiness in giving.
        My troubles always are small compared to what I view each time I leave my doorstep.

        It is perception.

      • It is perception and karma. We make a habit of stopping and helping people with car troubles in the cold winters in Edmonton. This has paid back itself as, on those occasions when we have been unfortunate, someone has stopped for us and helped.

        When we give gifts with no expectation of return, we find gifts come back at the most opportune time that could never be planned for.

  2. In my mindful practice, I am amazed and humbled by the extraordinary some do, it is far more important that I take some action, however small, to bring thought into being, to impact someone directly stirs the mind to expand and grow.

  3. Thank-you for the re-blog my friend.

    • You are welcome. The story reminded me of a hockey general-manager, Brian Burke, who spent a night on the streets with the homeless in Toronto. This story takes it further. How do we experience what others experience without stepping into their world even partially?

  4. Sounds tiring…in a way. But, given my vulnerability for other things, that is precisely what I have endeavored to do on my blog tonight. If I can ever stop hitting the wrong keys and having to correct myself! Humbling…it is! 🙂


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