We have a lot of stories to tell about how and why we teach and learn at and beyond Goddard. Because we realized how precious, amazing, and revolutionary such stories are, we decided to put together a book, drawing on faculty, students, and alumni of the GGI programs and concentrations. The result, Teaching Transformation: Progressive Education in Action, edited by Lise Weil and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, has just been published, and you can access a free download of the book or buy an in-print copy here. To give you more of a sense of the scope of the book, here’s also the preface, and if you go to the book page on this site, you can see a list of all the essays and descriptions of our marvelous contributions.
Time to Tell Our Story: Preface of Teaching Transformation
“It’s time for you to tell your story of how you teach here. What you do is very rare,” Elizabeth K. Minnich, author of the widely-acclaimed and deeply-influential book Trans-forming Knowledge, told our faculty several years ago. She re-minded us how Goddard College’s pedagogy in theory and action could be a catalyst for positive change in the world of academia. She reminded us that we both teach tranformation (guiding students to discover and use their best tools and vis-ions to transform their lives and communities), and we transform teaching through a student-centered pedagogy that challenges traditional academia.
Goddard College has a long history as one of the foremost innovators in experimental education. Founded over 150 years ago as a seminary, in 1938 Goddard took form, under the leadership of Royce “Tim” Pitkin, as a “College of Living” dedicated to “…breaking down of the barriers that separate school from real life” (goddard.edu). Based on the premise that meaningful and enduring education takes into account that life is always in flux, “people learn what they inwardly accept,” and “education is a moral concern,” the college took off, growing into an oasis of creativity, innovative thinking, and scholarship and activism for a changing world (goddard.edu).
The Goddard Graduate Institute (GGI) reflects this history as well as the current mission of the college—“To advance cultures of rigorous inquiry, collaboration, and lifelong learning, where individuals take imaginative and
responsible action in the world.” GGI houses three MA programs—Individualized Studies, Health Arts and Sciences, and Social Innovation and Sustainability—and within those programs, GGI offers concentrations in Consciousness Stud-ies and Transformative Language Arts. The GGI vision builds on Goddard history, and embraces education to foster greater justice, peace, ecological and social sustainability:
Bringing together faculty from across the humanities, social sciences, and health arts disciplines, the Goddard Graduate Institute seeks to integrate scholarship and personal development with social, ecological, artistic and cultural action to support students who want to effect positive change in the world. The pursuit of knowledge involves both a deep and rigorous intellectual endeavor and well-grounded and effective transformative practice. The Goddard Graduate Institute supports students whose individualized studies reach across and beyond established liberal arts and sciences disciplines to inter- and transdisciplinary studies. (goddard.edu)
Teaching Transformation both furthers this vision and responds to Minnich’s call for us to tell the stories, in all their complexities and challenges. As Karen Campbell writes in “The Virtual and Place-Based Culture of the Goddard Graduate Institute”:
Inviting into this culture individuals who have taken upon themselves problems to solve, or at least address, and calling them to weave their individual experience, knowledge, questions, skepticism (and fear) together is perhaps only a small step toward addressing the deeply disturbing phenomena of our time. It apparently “works”; our graduates are doing conscious work in the world that is helping to transform the injustices that drove many of them here.
In this collection, we share stories, insights, visions, and questions that unearth meanings and callings. As Sarah Van Hoy writes in her essay, “Undiagnosed Visionaries,” such education takes courage and perseverance:
We don’t offer a packaged curriculum where someone else has decided what constitutes knowledge, has organized that knowledge, has weeded out what they deem unimportant, and has emphasized what makes most sense to them. Our students don’t sit in classes and receive ideas. They don’t reproduce what already exists. Instead, Goddard students participate in shaping knowledge; they enter the collective conversation and move it in new directions. They are not satisfied with given meanings and comfortable practices. They are co-creating something that doesn’t always fit those givens. They are deciding what is important to them. Like the thawing of springtime, Goddard students take what has been frozen in place and they melt it and rework it, and in so doing they rebirth the world in their vision – their vision of justice, their vision of love, their vision of wellbeing and wholeness.
~ Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg