I am an artist, musician, and writer currently working in public education and as a doctoral candidate at Columbia, Teachers College. Coming Together, Coming Apart is a space for rumination and observation of ways that concepts and theoretical thought introduced in my academic studies operate through the perspective of my day-to-day life. (The photographs used throughout the blog are mine unless otherwise noted.)
Teaching is a second career for me, having completed undergraduate studies in Art History and Studio Art. I decided to continue my education in higher ed after a serious bought of burnout within my first five years of teaching. Having had a personal meditation and yoga practice for nearly twenty years, I found it conflicting that such a thing could happen to me. I had already faced my own “bottoms” in my personal life and came to teaching— To support kids to be whoever they dreamed of being— having felt I was prepared with the life experience and self knowledge, that might make me “built to last” in the alleged and notoriously tough field. During the time, I sought out my own support through a series of self-funded and grant provided trainings on mindfulness and yoga for stress and trauma. I became familiar with a variety of practical modalities that could be applied in practical settings for both teachers and students. I sought out the research of those within the sciences and social sciences, as well as further investigation of ancient and ethereal texts and began to apply it to my classroom practice.
At one point, I took it upon myself to see if I could get accepted to graduate school in an attempt to to save myself by “learning more”. Perhaps I could leverage my way out of the rut and live to tell about it, I thought. Call it a problematic attempt to find a floating life saver upon the sea of life long learning, Call it what you will. In academia, I began to face much of my own unchecked naiveté, privilege, and failure from the burnout that had “taken over” over my career. I realized my reliance on a logic expressed through binaries, ideology and antiquated discourses, something I continue to struggle with. Even more so, my spirituality was deeply challenged. Yet, this deconstructive experience became the loophole that would allow me to unravel my reliance on assumptions and logic that were in fact limited and contradictory, a state of mind that I have come to believe limits our ability to change education and society in the ways necessary for sustainability and equity. I wondered how much of my “made to teach” mindset and ability to cope with stress could be part of the problem. I began to see how paradigms of thought and constructs of power were far bigger than I could mend in a year (10 months) in a classroom, or shift within my consciousness overnight.
As a result, much of my academic research so far has focused on teacher burnout, teacher identity, contemplative pedagogy, and the teacher-student relationship. My academic work is also influenced by a resurgence of cultural heritage within my family, as we have been recently recognized as Aboriginal Canadian Metis among two tribal groups. I have spent a considerable amount of time retracing our genealogy and the politics following Aboriginal groups in Canada as a result. For this and many other reasons, post-colonial theory, post-modern feminism, and an overall interest in post-structural theory have taken deep roots in my heart and mind (as a act of emancipation).
At the moment, I’m currently facing a new meaning of powerlessness, something I had become very familiar with in my experience with twelve step recovery, and underneath it all a tiny part of me still remains hopeful, though I have yet to determine why. Perhaps I still feel beholden to making life, and the condition of our social and ecological environment, better for the next generation and those to come. This blog is an attempt to capture the deconstruction of an outmoded mindset as it occurs within my own self-reflection, (mixed with a glimmers of hope and flashes of rage from time to time), while providing a space for narrative writing that sits in a variety of contexts and conversations.
* COPYRIGHT: (c) 2016 Jennifer Dauphinais, All Rights Reserved, Borrowing” my ideas for your own work without mannerly citation is frowned upon (and in fact quite lame), while conspiring together on ideas is strongly encouraged.
For more information about my work as a musician please visit: http://www.ponybirdmusic.com