Influences

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To name a disparate assortment of compelling ones….

Deep Democracy/Process Work –  I am drawn to the rich process this approach offers of recognizing the complexities of our inner and outer worlds in our attempts to connect and create community. I appreciate the recognition and inclusion of “rank” in all its dimensions and a view that our complex histories of privilege and oppression and our conflicts are rich sources of information for creating change. Check out Amy and Arni Mindell, and the Process work Institute, Portland sites for more on this approach.

Poststructuralism – and the understanding of the importance of discourse to shape us and our reality, along with our ability to shape and shift discourse underpins all my research and writing. Check out my discussion paper on how discourses in adult literacy limit taking up the impact of violence on learning

Buddhism/Mindfulness – and the focus on the interconnectedness (anatta), and changing nature of all things (anicca), the importance of understanding the power of conditions to shape and influence each moment. Check out an article on the way our imagination shapes our reality

Mind/Body Research and the work of Dan Siegel, Peter Levine, Lou Cozolino, and many more….

Feminism and integrative anti-racist analysis

Participatory Research and Popular Education

Environmentalism/Connection to the living world

Psychodrama and body-centred psychotherapy

Sociology

and of course Social Justice. I appreciate Rinaldo Walcott’s 2011 take on art and social justice:

What is most important and crucial about social justice and its philosophical and political call is that it opens us up to rethinking the entire process of organization should it be necessary. Social justice then embeds critical diversity as a normative way of doing things and thereby social justice is a way of being in the world. Social justice is a whole way of life... Social justice is both an approach to living life and an orientation to thinking differently about the present and the past as a way of setting in place the conditions for a different kind of future. (What’s Art Good For)

In 2007 I mused about my early influences:

Along my own early educational journey, after an oppressive but privileged schooling, eye-opening study of sociology, summers teaching reading to young gypsies and organizing play for immigrant children displaced by “slum re-housing” deepened my questions about education and equity. My ground shifted when I experienced a new culture and new role as a teacher and trainer in Sierra Leone, was introduced to the work of Paulo Freire, and began to actually see my taken for granted assumptions about my culture, class, education, and the contradictions of colonialism. In Canada I was powerfully influenced by an introduction to feminism as a graduate student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, discovering and delving into popular education through my work at the Participatory Research Group, wrestling with the intricacy of post-structural theory to make meaning of my doctoral research data, and moving into activism in the adult literacy community in Toronto – during the 1980s.

My doctoral research began my journey into the impact of violence on learning and educational approaches to support learning in a context of violence. An adult literacy student who disclosed, finally turning silence into a torrent of need and stories, cemented that direction, and many years of weaving research and practice deepened my understanding, and my conviction that addressing the impact of violence in all education is a fundamental necessity. Along the way I came to see that my own unknown story glimpsed mostly through fragments of body memory was braided into my need that this issue be addressed, and my resolve that my life work is to try to ensure that it will be. I also grappled with a shift from a focus primarily on childhood sexual abuse to a growing understanding of the interweaving of all forms of violence, including racism, sexism, ableism, classism, ageism, and the way these frameworks foster further violence, interpersonally and systemically. I see understanding and addressing the impact of violence on learning as a fundamental part of an integrative analysis and practice of anti-oppression work.

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