Gateway to the Dao-Field: Essays for the Awakening Educator

by Avraham Cohen

Description

Psychotherapist and educator of counsellors, Avraham Cohen is noted for his whole-person and deeply democratic-community approach to classroom pedagogy. His academic and pedagogical expertise and innovation have been valorized by the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors that awarded him the 2007–2008 President’s Award for Contribution to the Discipline. This award is given for “distinguished contributions to the discipline of counselling through exemplary academic efforts.” Cohen also received the Canadian Counselling Association 2008 Professional Article of the Year Award for his co-authored article, “Suffering Loves and Needs Company: Daoist and Buddist Perspectives on the Counsellor as Companion.”

This book evolved from Avraham Cohen’s doctoral dissertation, for which he received the 2006-2007 Ted Aoki Prize for the Outstanding Dissertation in Curriculum Studies from the University of British Columbia. Cohen, who has an extensive background as a humanistic-existential therapist and as a mindfulness meditator, believes that these two fields have much to offer in the field of education. His work in this book supplies a rich resource and shows that indeed the practice and philosophy of mindfulness and humanistic-existential practices is a gold mine waiting to be fully mined and applied in education. These ideas and practices come alive in his writings. This collection of provocative and evocative essays written for both educational theorists and classroom practitioners addresses very directly the much neglected human dimension and community development potential within classrooms. His groundbreaking work describes what most of us know intuitively to be important in classrooms, and which is rarely adequately addressed—how to be authentically and fully human, and how this pedagogy of being human is central to becoming a great educator. He points towards the practical implementation of pedagogic practices that integrate the personal inner work of the educator, classroom practice, and curriculum learning.

The philosophical underpinnings of his work are derived from Eastern and humanistic-existential philosophies. The combination of Eastern perennial Wisdom traditions and Western dynamism of individual existential freedom and developmental understanding is a formidable alliance for educational theory and practice. An interdisciplinary scholar, Cohen seamlessly weaves together his deep and fluent knowledge of the philosophy and practices of humanistic and holistic education, humanistic-existential psychotherapy, and Daoism and Zen.

Cohen’s classrooms are full of the heat of human interaction and connection along with the illuminating light of inner and personal reflection generated by the intense engagement amongst all the participants with their inner worlds and with each other, with personal inner work, and with curriculum material. His writing style has an immediacy that is hard to resist and the reader will feel themselves as in the experience. His students have described their experience as “life changing.” In the present volume, Cohen brings to life how such creative learning experience can unfold. For educators, this work provides a doorway into themselves, into their students, and into the integration of the personal, interpersonal, curriculum, the larger community, and the cosmos within which we all exist.

Cohen writes, “In my many years of work as a psychotherapist where I see and feel the open psychic wounds of those who seek refuge in my office, I have had the realization that the educational system has contributed significantly, even decisively, to the wounding experience of my clients. My clients speak of alienation, feelings of despair, and loneliness. My students and colleagues also speak of these experiences. My work as an educator of counselling students has been to look into the processes and structures that have contributed to these wounds and to provide an alternative and generative experience in an educational environment.” Cohen’s writings address these issues in a profound, clear, engaging, and wise way. This is an important book for those in education.



 

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