For over twenty years, I have been aware of a complex inner world frought with hazards where my joy of dance and my passion for social justice are rooted. In spite of the clatter and busyness of classroom and school life, I am not distracted. I discovered these words of Anais Nim while exploring Powell’s astonishing bookstore in Portland, Oregon. They capture the essence of my life’s journey – “I must be a mermaid. I have no fears of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” Within this blog, I seek to unpack and reveal my inner life as a teacher.
appreciation to melanieuys.blogspot.com for this powerful image
Daniel Siegel (2003) claims “How you make sense of your childhood experiences has a profound effect on how you parent your own children.” I suggest extending this to include “and on how you approach your role of teacher.” Like Siegel and many others, including John Bowlby and more recently, Gabor Mate and Gordon Neufeld (2004), I root my practice as mother and teacher in the belief that the attachment dynamic between a child and a significant adult is dependent upon the adult’s willingness to mine deeply – picking through the strata – uncovering and understanding their own early-life experiences. The capacity to make choices and exercise freedom grows significantly when oppressive patterns of the past are brought into the light, grieved and then healed through forgiveness. “I have discovered the value of psychology and psychiatry, that their teachings can undo knots in us and permit life to flow again and aid us in becoming more truly human.” (Vanier, 1998). The disposition of a mermaid has been the greatest and most challenging gift given me at birth, revealed by Annie Dillard (1994) – “I myself was a dark object I could not ignore. I couldn’t remember how to forget myself. I didn’t want to think about myself, to reckon myself in, to deal with myself every livelong minute on top of everything else – but swerve as I might, I couldn’t avoid it. I was a dog barking between my own ears, a barking dog who wouldn’t hush.” I have always been aware and wondered deeply about the behaviours and motives of others – at first my parents, then brothers, family, neighbours, teachers and peers.