Creating an Integrative, Consonant Pedagogy

Creating an Integrative, Consonant Pedagogy
January 2009

Laura I. Rendón
Professor & Chair
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Iowa State University
My Learning Inquiry: Core Question
What is the experience of working with an integrative, nondual, consonant pedagogy in higher education?

Core Agreements About Research

  • The agreement that quantitative research is superior to all other research methods.
  • The agreement that truth results when the researcher remains a detached observer.
  • The agreement that intellectual training and analysis alone provide the road to understanding.
  • The agreement that non-Western views of truth as espoused by Third World perspectives, as well as Indigenous Knowledge, are at best objectified as “the other” and at worst, as primitive and anti-intellectual.

Marginalization of Indigenous Knowledge

Ontological Perspectives in Anti-Colonial Research

  • We are whole human beings–intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual
  • We exist in relationship
  • Humanity seeks belonging

Epistemic Perspectives in Anti-Colonial Research

  • Knowing is fluid, a journey, a process, a quest for knowledge and understanding
  • Transdisciplinarity–learning occurs across, between, beyond and outside all disciplines.
  • Honors diverse ways of knowing and recognizes that truth comes in many forms
  • Trusts the ways of knowing of Indigenous People, as well as the power of traditional knowledge

Epistemic Perspectives in Anti-Colonial Research

  • Grounded in not knowing and openess to knowing
  • Union/deep engagement of the knower with what is to be known
  • Unitive nature of science and the divine
  • Self-reflexivity–focus on introspection. What is the truth I seek to find? How is this study related to me and the world? What is the deeper meaning of this study? How will this study truly make a difference?
  • Grounded in subjectivity of the researcher, and the relationship between the researcher and what is being researched

Epistemic Perspectives in Anti-Colonial Research

  • Truth evolves in the relationship between conventional knowing (i.e. Western ways of knowing, scientific method in social and behavioral sciences, objectivity, etc.) and postconventional knowing (i.e., intuitive, multiperspectival, engaged, participatory, etc.)
  • Feeling and thinking are simply “a choice of ways and explorations” (Lorde, 1984, p. 101) to seek knowledge and form truths.

Spiritual/Theoretical Framework Based on Indigenous Knowledge

  • The Quiche Maya view dualities as complementary, rather than opposed, and believe that the realms of the divine and human actions are connected through mutual attraction–Tedlock, 1996
  • The Maya cosmos is based on the principle of the unity of existence
  • For the Aztecs, a creative act results from the interaction and exchange between two opposites.

Aztec Philosophy of Flor Y Canto/Flower and Song

  • In the Aztec cosmos, there is the principle of in xochitl,
  • in cuicatl (flor y canto/flower and song). Principle of 
  • employing the heart in search for individual 
  • growth and universal truth
  • What is the poetic character of teaching and learning? What is the flor y canto of teaching and learning?

Methodological Approach
Heuristic Research (Moustakas, 1990). Heuristic research is a:

  • “[P]rocess of internal search through which one discovers the nature and meaning of experience and develops methods and procedures for further investigation and analysis. The self of the researcher is present throughout the process and, while understanding the phenomenon with increasing depth, the researcher also experiences growing self-awareness and self knowledge (p. 9)
  • Like phenomenology, heuristic inquiry involves understanding a phenomenon in human experience. However, heuristics puts equal emphasis on both the persons experiencing the phenomenon and on the researcher. It requires that the researcher have the experience being explored, has researcher self-awareness in the foreground, and portrays the intrigue and personal significance involved with the search to know.

Methodological Approach
Transpersonal Research

  • Grew out of the field of transpersonal psychology “epicentered” in northern California
  • One early innovator was Abraham H. Maslow
  • “Transpersonal psychology seeks to honor human experience in its fullest and most transformative expressions. It is usually identified as the ‘fourth force’ in psychology, with psychoanalytic, behaviorist, and humanistic psychologies as its historical predecessors…Whenever possible, transpersonal psychology seeks to delve deeply into the most profound aspects of human experience, such as mystical and unitive experiences, personal transformation, meditative awareness, experiences of wonder and ecstasy, and alternative and expansive states of consciousness”–Anderson (1998) p. xxi

Position I: Creating an Integrative, Consonant Pedagogy

  • Connects inner learning (working with emotion, reflective processes, subjective views, etc.) and outer learning (working with intellectual activities such as reasoning problem-solving, etc.)
  • Diverse forms of contemplative practice used to engage the learner deeply in the material

Contemplative Practice

  • “Contemplative practices quiet the mind in order to cultivate a personal capacity for deep concentration and insight” Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
  • “Contemplative education unlocks the power of deep inward observation, enabling the learner to tap into a wellspring of knowledge about the nature of the mind, self and other that has been largely overlooked by traditional, Western-oriented liberal education” Naropa University
  • Examples: meditation, mindful walking, ritual, storytelling, poetry, music, communing with nature, free-writing, photographs, community work where social justice themes are highlighted, etc.

Uses of Contemplative Practice

  • Professor Norma Cantu, English, UTSA || Using guided imagery in writing
  • Professor Alberto Pulido, Ethnic Studies, University of San Diego || Cajitas (sacred boxes) Project


  • Aztec literary device
  • Dialectical space where two concepts, critically examined to reveal both how they differ and complement each other, illuminate a larger reality.
  • Examples: 
  • in

Knowledge & Wisdom

  • Goal is to acquire facts
  • Focus on outer experience
  • Begins from “objective” space
  • Based on rationality
  • Interpreted by detached observers