8 Responses to “Shamanistic Teaching: informing a posthuman pedagogy”

  1.   Sharon Boyd Says:

    Oh Jeremy this is superb! I’ve been pondering the shamanistic links in posthuman pedagogy too and have been reading both Davies’ Techgnosis and Harner’s The Way of the Shaman for inspiration, and this really excited me (and I love that the final prezi “image” is a person – genius!

    Harner speaks about the similarities of scientists and shamans – the awareness of and respect for “the complexity and magnificence of the universe”, and the humble knowledge that you can’t know it all. Harner also describes shamans as empiricists – emphasizing firsthand experience to acquire knowledge – which I thought fit in well with Edwards’ paper.

    And as Harner says “In shamanic work it is important to be on the lookout for the occurrence of positive synchronicities, for they are the signals that power is working to produce effects far beyond the normal bounds of probability” – and sure, this course already takes us beyond those normal bounds :)

    When I started this course, the first image I posted to Tumblr was of me in Shetland coming out of one of the Jarlshof wheelhouses (http://bit.ly/h1GFyc). I said then that I felt I was in the dark but would soon come into the light of understanding (feeling poetic at the time :) ). It struck me last week that there was a similarity with shamanic journeying – often carried out in a cave or man-made structure like a kiva – and thinking of the role of the teacher as guide as the student steps out on their own journey. Come to think of it, I also stuck quite a few pictures of the Fool on my Tumblr too… hmmn, I think I’m seeing patterns in my patterns and better step away from the keyboard!

    Thank you again so very much – so much food for thought!

  2.   Siân Bayne Says:

    @Jeremy I agree with Sharon – this is just great. The artistry of the Prezi is brilliant, and the navigation through what turns out to be a humanoid figure – a kind of concrete poetry – is beautifully done!

    I wondered whether you might pursue these ideas into theories of education and learning via radical constructivism and the separation of cognition from ontological ‘reality’? There’s lots on the web about this, but maybe try:


    Great stuff.

  3.   Jeremy Knox Says:

    @Sharon Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I think this shamanic idea has some real potential, and I’ll follow up on your texts, thanks. I really like the link you make to experience, as a method of the shaman, and the acknowledgement that ‘we can’t know it all’ is a really important I think, especially in a world where information seems to increase beyond our capacity to ‘know’ it. I found this paper the other day, you might be interested in it:

    Techno-shamanism and Educational Research:

    I think the core concepts of the cyborg and posthuman are pretty radical, and they do require a fundamental shift in perception, something that shamanism seems to seek out.

    On Jarlshof, great pic, it reminded me of my visit a couple of years back. I was really overcome with the preservation of the site, it is truly an amazing place, and one of the best neolithic/historical sites I have been to. This is a great metaphor, and for me the cyborg/posthuman element of this course was a real epiphany, and resonates with how I understand lots of other things. Definitely feels like I have seen the light!

  4.   Jeremy Knox Says:

    @Sian, many thanks. Fascinating link, I am always attracted to an idea if ‘radical’ is in the title. It is interesting to read this with the Edwards paper in mind, and I see many crossovers with postmodern ideas, particularly the suggestion of a collapse of subject-object.

  5.   Marie Leadbetter Says:

    Jeremy, this is great and on a personal level brought back lots of memories of reading Castenada’s books!

    A strong theme throughout this course when looking at digital culture (and i always seem to come back to this when reading your blog) is bind between the technological and natural. It’s easy to see them at odds with each other (just as you might with music played with a guitar/ piano etc and that created on a computer) but they both have many strong associations at their core and are, essentially, the same..

    I agree that Shaman and Cyborg have a lot in common. I think Posthuman is still a step back from this, maybe where Castenada started…the curious, dabbling, very much still human…In this sense perhaps we could plot a journey from Human through PostHuman to Cyborg.

  6.   Sharon Boyd Says:

    @Jeremy – brilliant, thank you so much for that article, I’m going to sit down with a cuppa and enjoy that! I agree, there is that awareness of the shaman being open to the experience rather than seeking a specific “expected” or pre-defined answer – that shift in perception we need to encourage in ourselves and our students.

    I was amazed with Jarlshof too – you can tell by the daft beaming grin, I could have stayed there for days – it was one of those places to wander in body and mind. I agree about the epiphanic effect of the course too – and I’ll be downloading Sian’s “radical” article too!

    @Marie – I love “the curious, dabbling, very much still human” view of the posthuman – I’m a curious dabbler for sure!

  7.   Jeremy Knox Says:

    @Marie, thanks for this. I really like the distinction you craft here between cyborg and posthuman. Despite this being one of the course questions a couple of weeks ago, I have probably been guilty of using the terms cyborg and posthuman indiscriminately, and it is certainly worth me addressing this in my recent thinking, thanks. The curious and dabbling is a good metaphor for new domains of learning I think.

    I read a few of the Castaneda books some years ago now, and enjoyed them immensely, but was unaware until recently of the cultism and controversy.

    @Sharon. Agreed, there is definitely something to this notion of shamanistic teaching. My commonplace understanding, and admittedly I don’t know much about shaman cultures beyond rather inauthentic films and the odd book, sees the shaman as letting their ‘learners’ experience, and come to their own understanding, rather than attempting to transfer knowledge from teacher to learning subject. This is cretainly reflected in radical constructivisms insistence that our understanding of the world is individual, and cannot to simply transmitted to another.

  8.   Sharon Boyd Says:

    “This is cretainly reflected in radical constructivisms insistence that our understanding of the world is individual, and cannot to simply transmitted to another”

    and thank you for giving me the key to understanding radical constructivism too – I was going round in circles with that!