creativity, uncertainty and contingency

a non/dualistic relationship to knowledge is characterized by uncertainty and contingency,
and is necessarily cultivated through a vitally creative approach


This dissertation is a collection of essays that meditate upon the concept of non/dual pedagogy.  The text is an expression of my longing to speak beyond the limitations of dualistic pedagogy, in its diverse forms and locations, and to actively seek out those non/dualistic pedagogical traits that for so long have been split off, denigrated and dismissed within dualistic educational systems.  Dualistic pedagogies devalue the body, the spirit, the emotional, the passionate, the subjective, the intuitive, the non-rational, the chaotic, and the sacred.  My purpose is to go some way to revealing the richness, vivacity and complexity of non/dualistic pedagogical experience.  As the dualistic organization of pedagogical cultures leads to the experience of disembodiment, and reinforces other inequalities such as sexism and racism, this study may be considered both an ethical and political undertaking.

Paradoxically, the very word “non/dual” infers dualism in its structure.  Thus, I dwell in the hyphenated space between “non” and “dual,” a space of great possibility.  This liminal space touches upon areas that mainstream curriculum theorists consider somewhat impure, taboo even – including, the erotics of teaching and learning, and the interrelationships between pedagogy, violence and desire.

This text contains spaces of struggle and resistance as well as spaces of contemplation and meditation.  Although I do explore non/dualistic pedagogy in formal educational institutions, including schools, and teacher education and graduate programs, I have chosen to make forays into other less examined pedagogical sites, meditating on the pedagogy of Zen arts; the public pedagogy of popular culture; and, the pedagogy of family.  I also muse upon the practice of ritual; the powerful effect of place on the embodied self; physical and metaphorical notions of “voice,” lived fictions of identity and dis/placement; and, the interplay between embodiment and dis/embodiment as a legacy of childhood sexual abuse.

I suggest that non/dualistic knowledge, arising out of specific locations, contexts, and circumstances is dynamic, generative and unpredictable, and refuses the convenience of objectification and the order of stable systems of categorization.  Thus, a non/dualistic relationship to knowledge is characterized by uncertainty and contingency, and is necessarily cultivated through a vitally creative approach.

– Alison Catherine Pryer, 2002
The University of British Columbia Centre for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction.
Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Read the entire thesis HERE (highly recommended)
and visit Educational Insights to read her story about how mainstream Academe attempted to reject her thesis:
Cat Got Your Tongue?  Escaping Narrative Erasure in Academe

Alison Catherine Pryer was born in London, England, and grew up in the southwest of Scotland.  She has taught in Germany, Japan, and Egypt, and more recently at the University of British Columbia where she completed her doctoral studies.  Her poems have appeared in numerous scholarly and literary journals.

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