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Classroom as Dojo: Contemplative Teaching and Learning as Martial Art

Heesoon Bai, Sean Park, Avraham Cohen


This paper identifies assumptions about education behind the mainstream North American schooling: that the primary educational goal is to teach subject matter and deliver knowledge and skills, most often divorced from the immediacy of students’ lifeworld, in the service of consumerism driven industrial civilization. Moreover, student behavior defined as unproductive and disruptive in terms of reaching such instrumentalist goal is seen as in need of control and management, which then becomes central concern and operation of schooling. This paper challenges these assumptions and offers a larger educational vision and practice in alignment with world wisdom traditions, namely becoming more fully human. We describe becoming human in terms of becoming increasingly whole, integrated, attuned, and in alignment in the three-fold relationality of self-other-nature. We then propose contemplative education as a way to cultivate becoming human, and offer an example of martial art practice and an alternative paradigm of classroom-as-dojo as a guiding metaphor. Contemplative learning in the dojo aims at embodied, intersubjective, and self-authoring practices.


Education; Martial Arts; Pedagogy; Classroom Environments; Embodiment

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