The Seed of Freedom

Barbara Clark

                                                                                                                                         Painting by Barbara Clark, 2009

                                                                                                                                         Photo by Roy Temple

“Oh smallest seed, oh greatest of possibilities, break down the fears of teaching and open my mind so that I might see the soul force of my imagination (Clark, 2009)! "

 

In our methods courses, each class begins with a mustard seed-one singular tiny seed-to represent infinite possibilities a pre-service teacher holds within. Freedom, as John Dewey stated, “involves the power to act and the power to choose; it refers, not to antecedents, but to what lies ahead. To take an initiative, to feel that one has a choice to make, is to break through the limits of what exists at any given moment; it is to try to bring something into being, something that is not yet” (as cited by Greene, 1983, p. 82).

 

Pre-service teachers expressed a sense of freedom that comes as a result of participation in aesthetic methods and a Creative Arts Commons. According to Bowers (2006b), the Creative Arts Commons are:  “Jam Sessions or gatherings of musicians, potters, weavers, dancers, actors, poets, painters, writers and sculptors...Ceremonies that involve participation of the entire community… Opportunity for self-expression, carry forward in highly symbolic form the collective memory of the community…” Each class meeting was designed as a creative arts commons so that pre-service teachers could explore aesthetic teaching methods and address innovative social/eco justice themes in the world community. The pre-service teachers revealed that the overwhelming sense of freedom and personal control of learning unlocked new voices, new ways to perceive learning and teaching beliefs through sounds, movement, masks, and poetry. After viewing the documentary titled, The Cove, teacher candidates were collectively outraged by the dolphin hunting and slaughter for profit in Taiji, Japan. This video captures a skit that was part of a community performance titled, Make a Wave, presented to 1,000 elementary children, and focused on the ecological disaster of dolphin slaughter for profit and entertainment. Teacher candidates created a marine aquarium simulation of trained dolphins demonstrating the significant trauma dolphins encounter in captivity.  

 

 

This short video captures the symbolic message created for the children to teach children in an authentic way to critically question ecological justice and to stop paying for entertainment that supports the cruel abuse against dolphins. Teacher candidates revealed that they became teachers of change and that curriculum must be authentic and problem-based.

 

I stepped from plank to plank

So slow and cautiously;

The stars about my head I felt,

About my feet the sea.

I knew not but the next

Would be my final inch,-

This gave me that precarious gait

Some call experience.

(Emily Dickenson, 1890/1959, p. 166)

With the sense of freedom to create and take action the pre-service teacher perceived their beliefs and realities becoming collectively ‘unmasked’ and in turn realized the vast potential for children to free their voices and ideas. Where stereotypes, prejudices, false judgments and accusations once existed the freedom to unmasking ideas opened space in a learning community and opening new vibrant possibilities for social and ecological community action.

All references to outside sources can be found in the bibliography sections of our published work.