The Soul of Learning
rituals of awakening, magnetic pedagogy, and living justice
The Soul of Learning is a groundbreaking book that bridges together cultural work, contemplative practices, and ancient scriptures. Inside each chapter, readers are challenged and inspired to come face-to-face with themselves as they encounter teachers in all forms—from spiritual sages to critical theorists, from prophets to poets, from hip-hop rappers to reggae artists. This book is multifaceted and multidisciplinary. It models the essence of education by offering multiple entry points into holistic learning: somatic, aesthetic, emotional, intellectual, ethical, relational, and spiritual.
The Soul of Learning embodies a pedagogical disruption in pursuit of personal sovereignty. What process must we go through to reimagine ourselves in relation to each other and the world around us? This book offers a semblance of an answer. As a way to bring the sacred into schooling, Keator and Watson courageously connect spirituality, activism, and education through curated readings, guided activities, and intentional exercises. It’s a ready-to-go syllabus and hands-on workbook all in one! Altogether this book is revelatory and provides innovative ways to teach and learn, lead and live. The Soul of Learning documents a transformative journey, through the interiority of our being into a revolutionary call for collective belonging.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Charles Scott; Preface: Collective Belonging; 1: Meditation on Education; 2: Silence; 3: Just Breathe; 4: Mental Emancipation; 5: Expanding Perspectives; 6: The Journey into Truth; 7: Into the Heart of Healing; 8: Teaching towards Sovereignty; 9: Beloved Community; 10: Ancient Futures; Afterword by Hodari B. Davis
Mary Keator, (Ph.D.) is the founder of Healthy Integrated Living (healthyintegratedliving.com) a health and wellness program that offers interested individuals and groups a customized plan for living a balanced, authentic, meaningful, and integrated life. She is also the author of Lectio Divina as Contemplative Pedagogy a resource for educators interested in learning how to integrate contemplative practices into their teaching methodology.
Vajra Watson is a scholar activist, faculty director, and professor of educational leadership and racial justice in the College of Education at Sacramento State University. She has over twenty years of experience as a teacher, community organizer and researcher. She received her Doctorate from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.
The Soul of Learning is a beautifully conceived project that rightfully urges educators to consider matters beyond that of the mind and intellect to ways of being and knowing that give meaning and importance to students' spirits and the wisdom of their ancestors' spiritual communities. While putting their work in conversation with relevant educational research, Keator and Watson masterfully integrate the words and sentiments from a truly diverse set of spiritual intellectuals and leaders into their analysis ranging from Rumi to June Jordan to Kahlil Gibran to Tupac. The book is made even more impactful by the practical activities that Keator and Watson integrate into each chapter to bring key concepts like silence, healing, and sovereignty to life. This book is essential for educators looking to meaningfully cultivate the spiritual lives and capabilities of their students.
Dr. Daren Graves, Associate Professor of Education and Social Work, Simmons University
Co-author of Schooling for Critical Consciousness (Harvard Ed Press), www.darengraves.com
We are often telling educators to find time to care for themselves; however, we seldom offer them tools. Soul of Learning captures what our teacher, Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts, always reminds us to do: Drink as we pour. This meditation invites us into the other side of justice and equity work—self-love and unapologetic self-care that is essential when doing the heavy lifting of this work. Educators, please keep this book close to you at all times."
Maisha & Lawrence Winn, Co-Founders and Co-Directors, Transformative Justice in Education (TJE) Center, School of Education, University of California, Davis
Our hunt for perfection consists of a deep instinct to discover eternal truth, the desire to manifest the fullness of our hidden potentialities and a longing for unending freedom. These are examples of humanity’s inevitable search for meaning. Without a higher consciousness, life will forever remain imperfect and incomplete. Without knowing who I really am and what my aim in this vast existence is, everything that I yearn, learn or earn will be unfulfilling and futile. The Soul of Learning takes us into the heart of this learning. People tend to evaluate personalities based on outward accomplishments, but those shallow triumphs could never add glow to one’s disposition. What we radiate comes from within and from knowing what we truly are – the path that this book is talking about! Dr. Keator and Dr. Watson offers us a way to hone in on our individual light as a way to shine brighter together.
Dr. Chinmay Pandya, BSc, MBBS, PGDipl, MRCPsych
Pro Vice Chancellor, Dev Sanskriti University, Haridwar Uttarakhand, India
The Soul of Learning is a courageous work. Courage is a virtue indigenous to all spiritual-philosophical teachings in world wisdom traditions. The Soul of Learning inspires and encourages us to move from being scarred and scared to sacred, inviting us to live out our days as a sacred act of sacrifice—that is, to sanctify self and world, to become holy by becoming whole. This book is a serious corrective to contemporary mainstream education that still bears the signature of soul-extinguishing and world-destroying delusional views and interpretation of who we are as human beings. The Soul of Learning is an activist manifesto for those who believe in soul-making as an educational direction.
Heesoon Bai, PhD, RCC
Professor, Philosophy of Education, Simon Fraser University | Burnaby Campus, Burnaby, B.C.