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The Contemplative and Critical in Community

Caroline Barratt


In this paper, I reflect on my experience of organising and participating in the Contemplative Pedagogy Symposium in the UK in August 2018. The event brought together educators with an interest in contemplative pedagogy, living and working together as a learning community for four days. A sense of deep connection developed as we dared to explore social justice, discrimination, industrial action, the neoliberalisation of higher education, and how our work in the classroom engaged with or was affected by these issues. The feeling of community that emerged from being able to sit with what was beautiful and ugly, joyful and painful has flowered in the months since and generated the energy and commitment to sustain difficult and important work. The event clearly demonstrated to me how the contemplative can bring us into a closer relationship with the critical. Contemplative practice is about not putting our heads in the sand but developing the awareness and responsiveness capable of holding our own vulnerability whilst engaging creatively with that which threatens us. It is through working closely with other educators who are similarly committed, open, and kind that I have come to see how contemplative practice can develop the courage and patience we need to let down our defences and see the world differently.


Critical Pedagogy; Contemplative Pedagogy; Learning Community; Leadership

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