Long Line: Transformation

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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Transformation

One of many things that my school (the Quaker school, or Carolina Friends School, or CFS) championed was professional learning and development. Think outside the box of normal professional development: I was supported financially and via release time to integrate a yoga practice into my life, I was urged to present at conferences across the US, and I was sent to participate in the Landmark Forum* and Advanced Course** on recommendation by my head teacher. And here I impart on uncharted territory.

Not being a child of the 1960s or 1970s, I can only read about and watch YouTube clips to attempt an understanding of the cultural milieu of the time. I understand, rather superficially, that there was a “loosening” across the board for many areas of life in the US. One of these areas was in the avenue of self-help or “New Age” movements. I select these terms (and they are probably the incorrect ones) simply to frame the experience, the context, that allowed for this loosening. One of the groups that grew out of this context was known as EST, or Erhard Seminar Training. Using a mixture of adult educational theory, philosophy, sociology, psychology, counselling, and psychiatry, groups of individuals were led through a number of discussions and activities that resulted in ontological shifts, or transformations.

Given the Western tendency to label unknown things as witches, EST was cloaked with the label of cult. In order to redefine itself, the EST group reorganized and reincorporated into a new company now known as Landmark Education in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I was supported and encouraged by my head teacher to participate in the Forum and the Advanced Course who had completed both courses and a number of others as well. Now, my integration of this line of thought is not meant to distinguish Landmark Education as not-a-cult, and I will simply employ one of Marco’s language-games to dissolve this concern for the time being: Landmark is a cult if you say it is. I say it is not a cult and within that context is how I will move forward. Having gotten into a routine in my teaching, I think my head teacher felt it appropriate for me to participate in two of Landmark’s courses to assist me in my long term journey. I can question all day long why she recommended that I participate but without her here to inform me, I can only guess.

I have been extremely wary to connect myself to Landmark Education within the realm of my academic career. However, I think it is integral to a fuller understanding of my topology and I believe I have identified a framework that may enable others to move past the cult assumptions. Prior to my participation in Landmark, I had become familiar with the basics of epistemology and ontology through Parker Palmer and other spiritual and philosophical writers. But it was my participation in the Forum (and later the Advanced Course) that truly grounded me in the realm of ontology. As we have been discussing in 901 and in 911, there is no turning back from stepping into ontological understanding or distinctions. Therefore, for the past three or four years, I have been attempting, via any means possible, to find disciplines, strategies, tools, or distinctions that can (1) help me get a firmer grasp on being, (2) help me relate what I think I “get” about being to others, and (3) what that then means for education as a whole***.

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* http://www.landmarkforumsyllabus.com/
** http://www.landmarkeducation.com/landmark_advanced_course
*** It was quite a shock when I stumbled onto Jack Mezirow’s adult learning theory “transformative learning” and realized that within the field of adult education the phrase “transformative learning” was not taboo. Thus, whenever I speak of “transformation” or “transformative learning,” I am truly referencing “Landmark.”

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