DEEPENING THE JOURNEY

I intend to speak boldly about what might be the real reason educators have not addressed affective literacy in their students. Why do we teach in traditional teacher-centered ways, even when we know it is poor teaching? What is it about my inner self that says I cannot change my teaching? Why hasn't the academy pushed for faculty to change from the teacher-centered model after all these years, or why do we believe technology is our answer? Moore (1940/1992) suggests that we as teachers are disconnected from our souls. Most teachers are the antithesis of soulful teachers. Moore says it this way:

It is commonplace for writers to point out that we live in a time of deep division, in which mind is separate from body, and that spirituality is at odds with materialism. . . . We cannot just think ourselves through it, because thinking itself is part of the problem. (p. xiii)

Palmer (2007) continues with telling his readers that this quest is not one where we find a “path away from the shadow of death.”

A soulful personality is complicated, multifaceted and shaped by both pain and pleasure, success and failure. Life lived soulfully is not without its moments of darkness and periods of foolishness. Dropping the salvational fantasy frees us up to the possibility of self-knowledge and self-acceptance, which are the very foundations of soul. (pp. xvi, xvii) Watson (2008) states that nurses are a work in progress, but as we approach Caritas literacy we will develop the following:

■ Cultivate caring consciousness and intentionality as a starting point

■ Ability to “center”—quiet down, pause before entering a patient's room or be still in the presence of the other

■ Ability to “read the field” when entering into the life space or field of another Ability to be present—be with the other as well as do for others

■ Accurately identify and address persons by name

■ Maintain eye contact as appropriate for person/cultural meaning and sensitivity

■ Ability to ground self and others for comforting, soothing, calming acts

■ Accurately detect the feelings of others

■ Stay within the other's frame of reference

■ Invite and authentically listen to the inner meaning—the subjective story of others

■ Hold the other with an attitude of unconditional loving—kindness, equanimity, dignity, and regard

■ Ability to be with “silence,” waiting for the other to reflect before responding to questions, allowing the other's inner thoughts to emerge

■ Respond to the other's feelings and mood verbally and nonverbally, with authentic affective congruence (p. 25)

Look at the emotional and social intelligence Watson is asking nurses to strive for. In addition, she is asking for nurses to show up in the healthy authentic self for the other—our patients, our students, our families.

If we are able to see where the soul is connecting and present by the behaviors presented earlier, then it is also possible to see the symptoms within a classroom when it is absent. The classroom cannot be pain free, and most would argue that it should never be. The place of pain is often a clinical sign of where to be more observant. If we are speaking of a student, then it would be a good thing that the student observes where and how he or she is learning, growing, or changing—all of which might cause some pain. If we are speaking of an instructor having pain, then this too is a place of learning, growth, or change occurring within the instructor. What a great sense of awareness for a teacher who is in alignment with his or her soul to sense some painful growth. The authentic teacher takes a risk in this approach, and as Weimer (2010) states, “Conduct in and out of the classroom conveys messages about values, beliefs, and attitudes, about teachers as human beings. These personal expressions make teachers vulnerable and teaching risky” (p. 9). We must continue to explore why teachers would take the risk and what it really means to care for one's students.

In order to better understand the risks we undertake in caring for our students, it is worthwhile to examine the types of care that we can have in the classroom. There are two forms of care that originated with Heidegger's philosophy of care (Heidegger, 1962). The first is a process where you care enough and are skilled enough to take over for someone who is incapable of doing so for him or herself. This could occur in a clinical sense with an unconscious patient, or in a classroom where the student does not know the path to knowledge in a particular area.

The second level of care is the ability to pull back and let the patient or student do self-care or self-learning, and the person caring gives back the responsibility and mentored skill to the client or student. Nursing students are taught how to care for those who are unable to care for themselves, and they are taught how to address self-care deficit knowledge through patient teaching. What can cause a risk to both types of caring is the teacher/clinician's need for power and self-preservation because of fragile inner psychic awareness—a wounded soul in the teacher. When this occurs, many things fall apart as described by Halldorsdottir (1990) in her chapter called “The Essential Structure of a Caring and an Uncaring Encounter With a Teacher: The Perspective of the Nursing Student.”

Many of us who are now nursing educators may have had experiences that can be described from both perspectives—the caring and the uncaring, as presented by Halldorsdottir. She describes the caring teacher as “professionally competent, has genuine concern for the student as a studying person, has a positive personality, and is professionally committed” (p. 97). Such teachers build mutual trust and formulate relationships between them and the students, which encompass a respectful distance. These attributes are very similar to immediacy theory practices for effective teaching found in the field of communications. In either case, the teacher is being asked to step up to his or her authentic caring self in order to establish a relationship with the student that will have many positive learning outcomes.

The fear-driven teacher shows up and creates the opposite student responses. Fear may be related to feelings of incompetence, lack of personal concern for others because the self is in crisis, the need to control or exert power in order to feel safe, or a type of initiation to a perceived rite-of-passage the teacher believes the student must go through. Singham (2007) states:

The typical syllabus gives little indication that the students and teacher are embarking on an exciting learning adventure together, and its tone is more akin to something that might be handed to a prisoner on the first day of incarceration. (p. 52)

All of these uncaring teaching approaches create negative outcomes on the part of the student. The challenge in shifting this teaching approach occurs because it creates a divided self for that instructor. The problem is that this divided self is full of fear, self-doubt, need for additional safety, and uncaring teaching behaviors, which may be flowing from the shadow side of self—the hidden, unconscious self (Hall & Nordby, 1973; Palmer, 2007). The work must begin with the teacher individually and what has brought him or her to this career using the methods you do. The authentic self by itself is not acceptable for soulful teachers even though it is necessary. We do not want the Mr. Hyde showing up in the classroom.

We want Dr. Jekyll to be there. A movie trailer from the story is found at youtube.com/watch?v=wbg5oXpq42Y. This clip highlights the idea that good and evil both lurk within us. Thinking that we all may have a dark side is not easy for some to understand, but others know this to be true. However, Parker (1999) also suggests that both are part of the same person, but one is the dark shadow side that is not conscious. “The second thing I didn't learn [in school]—and this takes me even more deeply inward—is that there is within me, in the shadow of my own soul, a little Hitler, a force of evil” (pp. 25–26). Nodding (2005) warns the teacher of the same thing by stating:

We live in an age both blessed and encumbered by a new orthodoxy in speech. . . . We are properly aware that words can hurt badly and even inflict real and lasting harm. But as our language is purged, our fears, misgivings, and dislikes sink into a layer of the psyche that Carl Jung (1933) called the shadow. This is the individual and collective side we deny. Continuous denial does not destroy the shadow. It stays with us, and sometimes creates spontaneous explosions of verbal and physical violence. (p. 120)

The same is true for students who are in need of faculty who understand the complex issues in today's vulnerable world where students may also be showing their shadow side. Kirman (1977) stated, “Only by attending to the individual unconscious needs of students, can we hope to reach out to that vast majority of children and young adults for whom school is still a less that meaningful passing of time” (p. v). Kirman also believes educators need this shadow awareness because he states, “Of course, an individual cannot be truly loving until he has the capacity to be truly hating in a controlled way” (p. 5). It would appear that we need this level of awareness to finally be conscious and authentic and, at the same time, creating a place of choice.

[This is a good time to drink more water to wash down the red pill even farther].

As we start to own our shadow side, we can take the shadow out of hiding—own it—and ask this part of us to have a better purpose in our lives. This means I can know how I can hate, but now I have a conscious choice to love even more deeply instead of hate. It does not mean that I will be more likely to hate, but rather, when I feel hate come over me, I can choose to face it differently. I can love even more.

Here are some psychoanalytic explanations of what is meant by “shadow.” Many writers (Jung in Hall & Nordby, 1973; Bly, 1988; Jacobi, 1973; Zweig & Abrams, 1991) dealing with the issue of shadow, place it into the psychoanalytical framework of unconscious where it is often projected onto others. It can be seen as positive and negative attributes of self, but is simply that part of our unconscious that we cannot accept and therefore we put it on others. Zweig and Abrams have collected writings from over 40 authors who have written on some aspects of the shadow in their text called Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature. Hillman, who is a Jungian analyst and currently writes on the issues of the shadow, is quoted as saying, “The unconscious cannot be conscious; the moon has its dark side, the sun goes down and cannot shine everywhere at once, and even God has two hands. Attention and focus require some things to be out of the field of vision, to remain in the dark. One cannot look both ways” (Zweig & Abrams, 1991, pp. XVII–XVIII). Zweig and Abrams describe the integration of the shadow as shadow-work. “Shadow-work is the conscious and intentional process of admitting to that which we have chosen to ignore or repress” (p. 239).

The shadow side of self causes the competent and caring educator to have a dark side that keeps showing up if that part of self has never been integrated properly. Teachers who are unable to integrate the suppressed self, the unconscious self, or the hidden self run the risk of seriously acting out experiences that are very destructive to self or those around them. This means we want the conscious authentic self to show up in soulful teachers. This would be described as a teacher who has integrated enough of his or her own unconscious self in a way that the teacher can be present for others in an authentic caring way. Fear will slowly be removed and caring behaviors will be present more often as the dark energy is given a new role in the life of the teacher. This energy transfer could be called scripting a new life for this dark energy once the teacher knows what it looks like. The key is to do enough of your own personal work so these attributes show up in a healthy authentic way— as a natural reflection of who you are, where the darker side can be safely released in a special learning community, a Caritas learning community, or a circle of trust. You will notice if you have the shadow in balance once you are showing immediacy, care, or caritas practices in the classroom. Affective pedagogy allows the instructor to bring these attributes to the classroom in a smooth and seamless manner. These actions cannot be forced or they will be noticed as such and will be rejected because they are inauthentic.

Consider the power of the support group safety net in creating authentic practices in the classroom through the new member's journey presented in Vignette 12.1.

Vignette 12.1

Teacher Support Group: Meeting every other week for 2 hours. We have a new member joining today. As you know, the requirements are to read a book on shadow, and then bring a teacher reflection to this group to discuss “one- step-back” and then have the person attempt to look at his or her “two-step-back” process as best as possible while in the group.
As a reminder, nothing at this meeting can be repeated outside of these meetings, and you are only allowed to discuss your own self-awareness experiences outside this room. Let's repeat our mission and purpose for this meeting: “We are here, knowing we are all connected. We are able to become aware of what was hidden to us, and having this awareness supports the conscious authentic teacher within us.”

Welcome! Tell us about your journey to this gathering of care teachers.

I have had students know me so well, they were open to giving me honest feedback by saying, “You look really stressed today. Are you okay?” It was obvious I did not prepare my inner self for that class because my emotional energy was all over my face and body—I brought the wrong teacher to the classroom. I thanked the students for letting me know this so that I could readjust and calibrate this energy that was still attached to me. I find it amazing, humbling, and a benefit if I have students who can tell me my pant zipper is down at the beginning of a class and not hint to it at break 50 minutes later, or tell me my negative energy is sitting on my face and maybe I want to do something about that before class starts. I see such openness between students and instructor as creating an authentic classroom where I also get to learn what I may unconsciously be bringing to this learning environment. When the students raise the authenticity bar in the classroom, the instructor has at least two choices: (1) go into an ineffective coping state such as denial, projection, or hiding, or (2) step up to the reality that each person is learning and that faculty also have knowledge deficits and embarrassing experiences that can also produce learning moments for them. My hope would be that every teacher can always say, “Well, what can I learn from that experience?” Here is a chance to practice the second choice using this Vignette 12.2.

Vignette 12.2

You are caught wearing one black and one dark blue shoe that are identical in shape. A student says, “Your shoes are different colors.” You say. . . . (What comes to mind? Write it here.)


Try this response: “Thanks for telling me. I appreciate your helping me where I might not be awake. I need to remember this about myself during class today as well. It may show up in other ways, so thanks again.”

As students open up to an authentic and open classroom, anything can happen so get ready and stop taking it personally. Another example is seen in Vignette 12.3.

Vignette 12.3

You have a blouse button that is not buttoned. A student says, “You have a button that is not fastened.” Think to yourself “Well, what can I learn from this experience?” You might say to the student, “I was hoping to only discuss self-disclosure today, and not demonstrate it. Thanks for telling me this. I might need to keep a closer eye on my topic today than I anticipated.”

Be open to the possibility for student feedback being immediately provided to you in the classroom because it could be coming. If you have never had such open feedback in a classroom, it could be a little shocking. I also believe many faculty may fear such openness in the classroom for the very reasons I have just described—it creates highly open and direct feedback for the instructor in the moment.

Palmer (1999) believes the best way to bring the teacher back to the sacredness of teaching and the teaching relationship is to:

■ Be aware that each of us has come from our own type of dark society and cultural biases, which means we need to learn how this impacts our beliefs and behaviors

■ Be aware of our own internal little Hitler, and that we have a shadow and dark side that can easily be let out

■ Be aware that when we recover the sacred, we recover our sense of community and this is the heart of good teaching

■ Be aware that when we recover the sacred, we recover the humility that makes teaching and learning possible

■ Be aware that when we recover the sacred, we recover our capacity for wonder and surprise (Palmer, in Glazer pp. 25–29)

Palmer defines the sacred as “that which is worthy of respect” (p. 20). He believes we can practice this at any time and in the moment once we understand it. Unfortunately, Palmer sees academia plagued by fear as the primary motivator for teachers. If each teacher is able to take on his or her need for reclaiming the sacred in all things, each will become passionate regarding building connections and relationships that will be respectful and humbled by the differences we have as we seek learning-centered classrooms. In addition, we need to reflect back on what it means to have classrooms that promote affective literacy for the students. The definition we used earlier in this text suggests that affective pedagogy requires that educators become much more aware of what is going on inside of them during their teaching moments. This definition, found in Chapter 1, is the individual's integration of knowledge regarding emotion, preference, choice, feeling, belief, attitude, ethics, and personal awareness of the self.

The current topic could not be more relevant to meet the affective literacy of the instructors who wish to be soulful teachers. To have such inner awareness is extraordinary, risky, difficult, and even painful for teachers on this journey.

The academy does not typically have environments encompassing safe places for educators to gather together and flush out unconscious behaviors that are affecting faculty, where there are no significant power differentials or where there are safe ways to challenge one's assumptions using critical reflection. However, we are seeing a less aggressive movement where issues are not as deep but other versions of faculty support are provided through a learning community, a Caritas learning community, or a circle of trust.

We fear affective education methods for many possible reasons and the biggest risk is that affective teaching sounds like educational therapy—and maybe it is. How can faculty take such risks in their classrooms? How would they address the criticism of bringing psychotherapy to their classes? How will we create an academy that will value faculty growth in the affective domain as well as student development toward affective literacy? Well, it is too late for you—you have already taken the red pill, so you will either take some safe actions toward being a soulful teacher as you create care pedagogy for your students, or you might take larger steps. I recommend doing the larger steps in some locations where there is personal support for the red pill explorers like yourself.

 
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