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To Make the Rest Participate In It: The Use of Contemplative Pedagogy in The Holocaust and the Arts
Honors in Practice
Format: Journal Article
Publication Date: Nov 30, 2012
Pages: 39 - 45
Sources ID: 83271
Visibility: Public (group default)
Abstract: (Show)
Self-reflective writing is one method of inquiring into one's inner experience of learning. But what aspects of self are honors students invited to reflect on when they are asked to write informally in their notebooks on what they've just heard or read? Are they asked to explore their "thoughts" and "feelings"? "Feelings": are they asked to pay attention to and describe physical sensation as well as emotional responses to whatever text is under consideration? Are physical sensations--quickening of breath, sinking feeling in the chest, tightening of the throat--even relevant to critical imaginative thinking? Psychologists, neuroscientists, and educators familiar with the benefits of contemplative practices say that physical sensation is as worthy of investigation as thought, and they suggest that various kinds of contemplative practices, including self-reflective writing, repeating short phrases, concentration on the breath, guided visualizations, deep listening, adapted for the classroom, can help students improve their ability to direct and sustain their attention on an object of inquiry, learn to recognize and live with ambiguity and uncertainty, and develop resilience that is useful to learning (Hart; Palmer & Zajonc; Simmer-Brown & Grace). Richard Chess' experience of integrating contemplative practices into his The Holocaust and the Arts course has convinced him of the value of such practices for these reasons as well as for the purpose of deepening a sense of community among the students. Further, when these practices are clearly linked to the course "content," they increase the likelihood of students engaging deeply with demanding, difficult (emotionally, intellectually, even spiritually) material. Herein he describes a variety of contemplative exercises he used in teaching The Holocaust and the Arts. The intent of the exercises is to encourage students to observe their own experiences and possibly gain insights into themselves as well as into the experiences of others, including the experiences of Holocaust victims/survivors