What to Do When a Sublime Generosity Is Moving Toward You: Make Rituals

Arborial-liminal-rhizomatic

I have been doing research along with my students. I am at that early and fun/frustrating stage where the question I want to answer is struggling away from me like a slippery fish full of fins.  My question is whether or not Harold Jarche’s “seek-sense-share” personal knowledge mastery can reach across into pedagogy.  I want to know if I can use it not only as a tool my students can take with them into their own worlds, but also whether it can serve as a frame for doing the everyday work of teaching courses face-to-face.  In other words can I use “seek-sense-share” as a method to structure and present each day’s instruction.

I was reading an article from Jarche’s website, where he referenced the work of Clark Quinn’s blog, Learnlets. I have followed Quinn’s work previously, but hadn’t dropped by of late. This post really caught my eye: “Signifying Change”

Interesting, a discussion of ritual in the workplace. Why not ritualize the classroom experience for myself, if not the students. Or perhaps I can use ritual in the classroom with my students, perhaps not “quiet as it’s kept” but in the open?

Why bother? Because sometimes the classroom feels holy, a sacred space. I don’t know what to do with that when we cross the liminal thresholds from profane to sacred, from starting the routine classroom time by calling the roll to realizing that exactly as Rumi advised, “Don’t move. A sublime generosity is coming toward you.” This happens often enough to remark upon, but like the Muse it cannot be called, only listened to. It feels like the romantic call of Shelley in his “Defense of Poetry” when he argues,

Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle, and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

This sacredness feels like an “unapprehended inspiration” in that the feeling cannot be “apprehended,” caught by the ankle and held. The sacred feels like a future shadow cast back upon us in the present. It makes sense if you think of the future as behind us, liminally, not in front of us like Western thought asserts. The sacred feels like the unmoved influencer, a catalyst that invokes but is not consumed. As teachers we feel the sacred descend upon us and then move away. How transformational it would be if we could create the conditions just as poets do to call up the sacred liminal boundary. I cannot help but look back at this paragraph and think, “What bombast!” Yet the Truth for me is that this sacredness happens unbidden, maybe I could invite it in more often with ritual.

So it would seem that my research question has transformed: can ritual be a healthy part of my pedagogical experience? If so, how can I use it to do so?

Here is my initial gathering together of an answer, what Jarche refers to as the “seek” part of the triumvirate of “seek-sense-share”. I am finding Wakelet to be a very handy tool for the initial part of this gathering together. It is a super, digital folder. And if I have been consistent at all I have used this post to seek out information, make sense of it and share it. The model feels right, perhaps not sacred, but not unholy either.

1 Comment


  1. // Reply

    Interesting use of Wakelet to aggregate links to articles you’re encouraging others to review and discuss. I suspect if the class were assigned a search, review and share project related to a specific topic each student could create their own Wakelet, and someone could aggregate each into one larger collection, expanding the ideas of all in the group.

    As I read your post I thought of the transitory nature of classroom teachers. A student comes to you for a class, lasting a semester, or a year, then moves on. A stranger at first, then a student, then perhaps a colleague, and then she’s gone. The teacher may try to follow and stay connected, but a new class of students is entering who need attention. Does this feel like your experience?

    In leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program I felt like i was on an island. Students and volunteers were boats in an ocean of life who would dock at my island, as strangers, just as your student were. Since we kept many students and volunteers coming back for multiple years, our bonds were able to grow deeper. However, ultimately, the students graduated from 6th grade, or HS, and moved on with their lives. Most volunteers only stayed one, or two years, but 10-15% stayed 3, 5 and even more than 10 years. But they, too, ultimately moved on. As that happened new students and volunteers were always joining.

    Being the one who stayed on the island, keeping the program’s light’s on and the doors open, often seemed a bit lonely. People coming. People leaving. Yet, because of the nature of the program, the time we spent together was longer than what I think most educators have with kids.

    The Internet has changed this. Now I’m connected on Facebook with many former students, and a few volunteers, too. I’m connected to former volunteers on Linkedin. I’m still on my island, but I’m less alone.

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