Long Line: Looking Back

This post is part of a series of posts pulled from a piece of writing I completed in November 2012. For more information on this series, see this post.

Context | Looking Back | Transformation | Looking Back at the Looking Back | Questions | On ethics | Letting Go of Nothing | Taking on Subject and Objects | On meaning making | Why the language of causality trouble me | Conceptual versus Empirical | Futuring | Temporality and Time | Brief Note | Back to Time | What to do with the Past | Some tools to help us be | An example from my past | Avoiding Labels | The educational turn | Being and curriculum | Curriculum of Being | Curriculum Futuring | On dispositions as ways of being | Being and pedagogy | Being and technology | Being and the body | References

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Looking Back

How far back does one look? Masters work? Leaving teaching? Finishing teacher certification? Every time I attempt to look back the words of Benjamin Zander* echo in my mind: “look for the long line in the music.” In his TED talk Zander speaks about musicians that have reached a maturity in their careers when they can play a phrase of music and see the phrase as one “long line” rather than a certain number of notes, rests, flats, sharps, and on and on. The long line is where the magic is. As I turn back to see how I got to where I am, I try, desperately, to find the long line. It is how I make meaning of my life and its future direction. It is not static, but dynamic. I recreate it in every sharing. In the naming and drawing of my map, one of the strategies or tools# is an examination of the underlying, unspoken, and hidden assumptions that ground everything we do, say, think, and are.

These are the parts (aspects?) of myself that I think are important to know as I ground my writing and inquiry. As being is integral to this writing, consider how each of these things, these pieces, literally are me. They are the boundaries of my knowledge and self. Not boundaries as the concrete wall or electric fence, but they do bound, to some degree, my initial or in-the-moment, lived experience. I come from a family with a mother and a father. I am the oldest child, with one younger sibling, a sister. From the beginning I have wanted to be busy, to fill my days with meaningful activity. My first love was music and it remained my passion until I was 18. By happenstance I learned that I possessed a disposition towards teaching. It simply came to me, easily, intuitively.** This led to university for an education in teaching and learning which turned out to be easier than I thought. Intrigued by technologies, they became integrated into my understanding of teaching, learning, and being in the world. I felt called to teach at an independent Quaker school after university; the school’s philosophy of equality, silence, integrity, and stillness seemed to best align with my views on teaching and learning. Among other reasons I chose to leave the middle school classroom after four years to figure out what my “big questions” were and see if I could find some answers. And, if I could not find answers, I was sure I wanted to rewrite the questions that were being asked.

From my “long line” I bring a musical understanding to my everyday experience. I hold an assumption about teaching based on my own experiences of teaching as “easy” and “natural.” My first “real” professional work experiences were housed within a Quaker school and these dramatically informed my understandings of students, curriculum, parents, teachers and teaching, and so on. But there is one event (actually two) that occurred within my teaching years that truly drive me, that kick me out of bed in the mornings, that I want to turn to next. In this turning, however, I must reiterate how the musical, the intuitive teacher, and the Quaker philosophy*** are woven within who I am at any given moment. This will become more and more obvious as my fingers keep moving.

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* http://www.ted.com/talks/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html
** As mentioned above, I recently (28 November) sat in on Gert Biesta’s talk at UBC on pragmatism. I think my draw towards pragmatism may find its roots here in my first teaching experiences.
*** Carolina Friends School: Mission & Philosophy - http://www.cfsnc.org/page.cfm?p=362

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