I am thrilled to announce that I signed a contract last month with Information Age Publishing to bring out my new book The Thing with Feathers: Hope, Beauty, and Sustainable Caring Practice, anticipated summer 2020.
If you’ve been following this blog at all, you know I’ve been worried about attrition rates in teaching for some time now. More than half the teachers in my state leave the field within the first five years. Why is this acceptable? What is going on? What can we do about it?
Simply put, I am convinced that helping teachers stay in touch with a daily experience of beauty in the world, and in their work, is an important part of the solution. What’s going to be most exciting about shaping this book will be keeping it readable, urgent, useful. It will be by a teacher, for teachers, about the challenge that confronts us all. How do we stay in touch with the sacred sense of vocation that brought us to the work in the first place, when so many forces seem determined to change the job into something quite different from what we signed up for? How do we thrive in the work, not just survive it?
From the proposal:
This book seeks to help teachers confront their despair and sustain their hope through experience with beauty in their lives and work. It will comprise three parts:
• a bringing-together of thinking and research on beauty and education from curriculum theory, arts education, narrative medicine, and expressive arts therapy that gets these areas talking to each other in ways that are relevant and useful for practicing teachers;
• an exploration of multiple examples of how conscious encounters with beauty can work with the inner life of a struggling teacher and help her tap into deep sources of sustainable power;
• a series of invitations drawn from the author’s twenty-five years of experience in
teaching and teacher education that will allow readers to experience the power of beauty to support hope in their own teaching practice.
It will be an embodied and timely response to the specific policy and identity crises teaching faces in this decade. It will advance a new microparadigm designed to support future and practicing teachers as they take responsibility for the sustainable cultivation of their own inner relationship to despair, beauty, and hope — the better to work for political and social transformation out in the world that confronts them.
It feels like so much of the wide-ranging work I’ve done over the years – in arts education, in curriculum, in medicine, in expressive arts – has been pointing towards this project; all these perspectives can talk to each other, but they never do. It will also incorporate and extend some of the music and other writing about beauty I’ve been sharing here and elsewhere over the years, which will fit wonderfully in the larger exploration.
TL;DR: I can’t wait to get underway. Thanks for your support and readership over the years. Watch this space for updates! More to come!