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Love and Knowledge: Recovering the Heart of Learning Through Contemplation
Teachers College Record
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2006
Pages: 1742-1759
Source ID: shanti-sources-22465
Abstract: The role of contemplative practice in adult education has a long history if one includes traditional monastic education in Asia and the West. Its use in American higher education is, however, more recent and more limited. Nonetheless, on the basis of evidence from surveys and conferences, a significant community of teachers exists at all levels of higher education, from community colleges to research universities, who are using a wide range of contemplative practices as part of their classroom pedagogy. In addition to existing well-developed pedagogical and curricular methods that school critical reasoning, critical reading and writing, and quantitative analysis, this article argues that we also require a pedagogy that attends to the development of reflective, contemplative, affective, and ethical capacities in our students. The significance of these is at least as great as the development of critical capacities in students. The rationale for the inclusion of contemplative modalities is articulated within this context. On the basis of considerable experience in teaching at Amherst College, I present an "epistemology of love," which emphasizes a form of inquiry that supports close engagement and leads to student transformation and insight. This approach to knowing is implemented in the Amherst College first-year course, Eros and Insight. It includes a specific sequence of contemplative exercises that are practiced by students and integrated with more conventional course content drawn from the arts and sciences. Our experience shows that students deeply appreciate the shift from conventional coursework to a more experiential, transformative, and reflective pedagogy.