Joe Kincheloe's Critical Complex Epistemology/Pedagogy & Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage

Nine Dimensions of Bricolage and the Multidimensional Process

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Paradis, V. J. (2013). Did Joe Lyons Kincheloe Discover the Golden Chalice for Knowledge Production? The Application of Critical Complex Epistemology and the Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage. (Doctoral Dissertation)

Nine Dimensions of Bricolage and the Multidimensional Process

The “framework” Kincheloe (2005a) recommends for this bricolage is a nonlinear, reiterating process, which is more accurately viewed similar to “dimensions” of space that are not separated but in and within and intertwining with each other. He listed nine dimensions, but it’s important to realize also that there are infinite dimensions and they are not completed in any specific order. These are simply listed for practical application purposes. Thus, bricolage consists of the following dimensions: (1) methodological bricolage; (2) theoretical bricolage; (3) interpretive bricolage; (4) political bricolage; (5) narrative bricolage; (6) philosophical research (constructivism, historicity, epistemological insight); (7) critical hermeneutics; (8) identification of what is absent; (9) fourth dimension of research in which the bricoleur is future oriented, discovering “a kinetic epistemology of the possible. In the process, the sophistication of knowledge work moves to a new cognitive level; the notion of rigor transmigrates to a new dimension. As in a 1950s sci-fi movie, bricoleurs enter the 4-D—the fourth dimension of research.” (Kincheloe, 2005, p. 346). The idea is, much as in reality, we weave in and out, around and through, back and forth through the various dimensions with each informing the other more each time. The book by Berry and Kincheloe (2004) provides many ideas for methods, theories, and perspectives to thread through the bricolage but the idea is not to select and use them like choosing something from a menu. As difficult as this might be for some, the process leads the bricoleur, not the other way around. I can’t really explain how that happens because it has always been somewhat natural for me. I could never write outlines for papers, for example, as so many teachers have required—at least not until after I wrote the paper. I think the key to being successful at this is to use the concept of “over-studying.” We “over-research” in the ways Kincheloe has recommended, we “let go,” and then it just all comes together.

Item (8), identifying what’s absent, which was covered in the analysis of Tarot card reading, is an often overlooked dimension because it takes great practice and sometimes extensive research and a deep analysis to determine what is missing. Sometimes we must accept that we know there is something missing but are unable to identify it. Intuitive abilities are helpful here and practicing this form of bricolage will help develop greater intuitive abilities. Item (9), the fourth dimension of research, has already been described and demonstrated to some degree, but in this study I have barely scratched the surface. I do not begin to know what Kincheloe envisioned when he conceptualized “fourth dimension research.” He was an adept by that point and it becomes the case of not being able to see past my blinders to see what he could see. This concept is one that will need to be explored for many years to come from our own positions in the web of complexity always striving to see more. One interpretation could relate to cosmology and the prophecy that earth is entering a new dimension. It may relate to the increasing consciousness of people as they are exposed to greater amounts of information and must learn to sort it in their own minds. It can mean so many different things and only time will tell how, once his work is taken forward and applied in a “fourth dimension” sense in many different research contexts.

Thus, bricolage as Kincheloe has conceptualized involves multidimensional work both in the concrete sense that many people will be able to apply right away to the FIDURODian world and hopefully break free from the constraints of that world. It also involves multidimensional work at a more “esoteric” level as one develops their intuitive and psychic abilities, remembering it is only esoteric for those who have not yet been able to see past the curtains that hide these things from them. At this level, there might be interpretations in the David Icke (2012) genre, indicating a battle between alien species in the cosmos and their war between good and evil, a battle for control of Earth. As Ephesians 6:12 presents, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (, 2012).

Dreams. Fourth dimension research can be eased into gently by incorporating what is learned from dreams. I have had many dreams in which I was provided new knowledge in various contexts (classrooms, Ascended Master retreats, visions, in more casual one-on-one settings with Master Teachers, and in our home library with Joe teaching me). I have tried every possible way to bring that knowledge back with me, including taking copious notes, and even attempting to copy from a computer in another dimension, thinking I could paste it when I got back here. As Lobsang (1990) puts it, when you take these fourth dimension excursions, you can’t take anything with you and you can’t bring anything back other than what you can remember. With practice, we can remember more. When I have expressed my frustration over not being able to remember what I learned to my teachers, they simply tell me not to worry—that when I need the information, I will remember it.

Most of us have learned that dreams are, well, “just dreams.” In his first edition of Getting Beyond the Facts and a number of his other works, Kincheloe (1989) has discussed using dreams for learning purposes. I have since found them very useful and have come to view them entirely differently than I had originally been programmed. The spiritual advisor I contacted shortly after Kincheloe passed away taught me that dreams are experiences of the past, present or future and that we have the power to change them. Once we gain better control over our dreams, we also gain better control of our waking life, according to what I had been taught. When I began to look at dreams from that perspective, I was able to learn much more about myself and the world than by ignoring dreams or assuming they only had “psychological” and “symbolical” meanings, although that form of interpretation can also be useful. I have come to realize there are many different types of dreams that seem to serve different purposes. For example, there are dreams of the recent past with the same loved ones that seem to be in a different dimension, a different reality. I have had dreams as far into the future as during the 7000’s and as far back as living in a cave, thus, forty thousand years ago. Dreams also go hand-in-hand with visions as well as with the transmitted communications I receive. I am still in the process of learning the range and significance of dreams, but just wanted to make this point that learning about them can be a very important process for this form of research. I have had many teachings from Masters in different contexts from being instructed individually, to learning in classrooms and even to celestial retreats where the teachings are emanations of colored light that become absorbed rather than teaching with words or telepathically. Another aspect of dreams relates to soul development. Some indigenous peoples believe that every time we suffer a traumatic event, part of our soul splits off and enters a different reality; I have felt this happen, personally, in a phenomenological sense. The result is that when I remember those events, I feel like there is literally a part of me missing. Shamans help people retrieve those pieces of the soul (Torres, 2002). Remembering some of my dreams has been healing and at times a “soul retrieval” process. But our soul is free and from what I’m coming to learn is that we like to “hang out” in different places, such as with our soul family. Indigenous cultures also speak to our having soul families, and I have discovered I do have specific very special loved ones I choose to spend time with and share an enormously loving and empathic bond with. Some people view these other people as “aspects” of us. In a sense, that might be true; we are all “aspects” of each other if one takes that perspective. Everything about spirituality is paradoxical. For example, the more I learned about how many things in common I have with Joe, how much I aligned with his philosophy, and the more I have come to feel “one” with him, at the very same time, the more I see our very complementary differences and the more “individuated” (in Jung’s terms) I have become and can view him. Dreams, visions, remote viewing, and telepathic transmissions have all aided this process. I have come to believe that some of the “visions” I’ve had in which I traveled to my home in the higher realms were what some people refer to as “shamanic journeys.”  Torres (2008) explains:

When a person journeys the soul leaves the body, and may travel to a spiritual aspect of places on the earth, or may go within the earth, or above it. In certain societies there are destinations that are peculiar to the culture. There are also destinations that appear to be the same for many different cultures despite the separation of these cultures by nature and geographic location. The map of these common destinations is referred to as a cosmology. (para. 2)



The Bricolage Is a Many Splendored “Thing”

The more I researched, the more it began to look as if the bricolage was anything and everything, and yet I have been selective in my choices for metaphors. As Berry puts it, “bricolage is many a new thing understood” (p. 147). Thus, bricolage developed into an almost mystical experience of being one with everything, similar to a “philosopher’s stone” and I was one with the bricolage. Prior to writing up my research I explored numerous metaphors, even though I had already been “handed down” the title for this dissertation that implies the golden chalice as the metaphor, early on in the research. Engaging in bricolage is a journey, a seeking of greater understanding, of rediscovering who we are. Kincheloe’s metaphors of “treasure hunts” and epistemological road trips” highlight this journey-like feature. But it is more than that even: It is a passionate seeking. And it is creation itself. Dharma relates to the act of holding up the universe or cosmic Law by the way we live our lives and pursue our passions. Thus, one interpretation might be that bricolage leads us on a journey to discover our passion and our personal Dharma Project. In that process we discover ourselves. It is self-realization. The Golden Chalice symbolizes the same form of quest. While there are many interpretations of the Golden Chalice in the popular media (some of them pretty strange), the predominant interpretation is that it represents a quest of Divine Union with one’s true soul mate or Twin Flame, often referred to as the Hieros Gamos. It is the ultimate love. The love of all loves as sanctioned by God. Thus, I keep returning to the idea that bricolage is love because it requires that spiritual energy, pure love, the “Holy Spirit,” The Great Spirit, Eros Love (or whatever one wishes to label it) working through us if we are to achieve the ultimate love, union with our Twin Flame. Bricolage provides the means but make no mistake: It requires a lot of work and it requires unconditional commitment. As I have discovered, my work has no beginning and no ending, but the experiences have become more positive and richer as I’ve engaged in this process, and life has a purpose.
Relative to this current project, just the data collection alone is astounding and I don’t know how I did it so faithfully except that I was driven by a very powerful love. My data includes more than a thousand blogs and about 8,000 pages of journal entries which I had begun writing right after Joe passed over in December, 2008. I have also taken thousands of photographs documenting treasure hunts, road trips, and other experiences. And none of this is what I would call “bricolage” (as a noun) no matter how I might juxtaposition various items. It is only part of the process and preparation for writing the bricolage. This addresses a question Berry (2004a) has posed: “Is it bricolage when the knowledge produced is a potpourri of discourses, challenges and resistance to the status quo?” (p. 106). I would conclude that while these items might serve as instructional pieces and preparation work and may even get people to thinking, they do not constitute the multidimensional critical complex bricolage in a similar manner that producing a metaphoric patchwork quilt or montage also does not. Perhaps, these activities would best be viewed as preparing the mind for bricolage—engaging in research and writing activities that help develop that epistemic consciousness Kincheloe states is important for understanding how power and domination keep people oppressed. They are also resources from which we can draw as we write and construct our bricolage. Writing these pieces helps us see more connections which increases the potential to create something new and unique. They are mind exercises. But they can be used as POETs to be brought together through bricolage to construct new knowledge.
While I was simultaneously creating the “potpourri” of discourses in the form of web activism, blogs, research artifacts, and a journal it was as if my mind was in some kind of natural reorganizing process (could it be autopoieses?). I felt like I was in a self-recovery mode after having spent my entire life to that point believing lies and being unconscious. I was discovering missing pieces of myself and putting myself back together again through memories of my past and future lifetimes, and even parallel lifetimes. The most shocking thing about this research is that there seems to be no end to the lies and deception I’ve been taught. It’s as if the entire world has been operating upside down. The reality we believe in is not reality at all.
The Crystal Amaryllis
Kincheloe (2008c) provides us with a beautiful metaphor for bricolage that addresses the uniqueness of us all in his last book. With his reference to the “crystal amaryllis,” the bricolage is us. He tells us, “Once we have jumped through the critical ontological looking glass and seen our reflection in the crystal amaryllis of criticality, we begin to understand the complexity of human existence in previously unimaginable ways” (p. 251) [emphasis added]. There are several interpretations for this metaphor of course, and for this interpretation the crystal amaryllis is us in a similar way that what we see is a reflection of ourselves. The amaryllis is an “elegant, sensual, mysterious” and “tender tropical plant” that “bursts into a magisterial flower from an oversized bulb.” All it needs is “light and water. It is cued to perform.” Deriving from the Greek word amarysso or amarussein, amaryllis means to “sparkle, twinkle, scintillate, or shine.” The famous belladonna (“beautiful woman”) amaryllis is from South Africa (Ockenga, 2002). A crystal amaryllis is an aesthetically created crystal flower with thousands upon thousands of sparkling facets. No two flowers are alike. In this case the bricolage is us and we are reminded that each one of us is beautiful, multifaceted, multidimensional, and unique, similar to the qualities of the crystal amaryllis flower, which simultaneously signifies our common aspects. The critical complex epistemology and multidimensional critical complex bricolage endow us with “a key to discern the multiple realities obscured by Western science that can help unlock the door to a new vision of humanness and human action” (p. 233). Thus, we can examine the infinite aspects as represented by those sparkling facets of the crystal amaryllis to remake ourselves and the world. The belladonna amaryllis of South Africa reminds us that we must bring back the “beautiful woman,” the Divine Feminine. By bringing back the Divine Feminine, the Divine Masculine returns in his true scintillating glory as well.
Bricolage for Elementary School: Sacred Sun Where Art Thou?
Writing was difficult for me in early elementary school for several reasons. I remember not liking the requirement to write so large; it took great concentration to form the large letters and my small hands had difficulty with the task. I have never understood the requirement for such small hands to write so large. I knew the alphabet well before even beginning school and my understanding of oral communication was at a much higher level than I was able to communicate in writing or verbally. I used to love sitting with the adults and listen and learn from their conversations, rather than playing with the other children.  I was also a very quiet, shy child who had been abused into submission in a psychologically unbalanced household, so I rarely spoke out or asked questions in school.
My difficulty with writing was that I did not know how to spell the words I knew in my head. I had been taught not to guess at the spelling (the trend at the time), thus I felt very restricted by only being able to write the vocabulary I had mastered. For one particular second grade assignment, the teacher gave an oral presentation about the sun. She presented it formally as a professor might lecture to a class and then she assigned us to write a report about what we learned from her lecture. Many things hampered my efforts: memory, not having the confidence to ask questions, feeling that it was a test of my abilities which caused me anxiety, not knowing how to spell the words I knew verbally. Nevertheless, I did the best I could and I was proud of my effort. The paragraph I wrote was well formed with an introductory statement, the body, and a concluding statement—even if it was redundant. After I had finished, my teacher came over to my desk to read what I had written and to my incredible embarrassment she laughed loudly for the entire class to hear. I felt devastated and humiliated. To conclude this story, when I took the paper home to show my mother, hoping I would get a more loving response, she also laughed. That hurt. And I never forgot the incident and what’s more, I still have the very paper I had written that day, complete with a bright yellow sun I had colored at the top of the page. It is amazing I still have that paper; I guess I was saving it for more than fifty years for this dissertation. I don’t know how it, along with two other papers written at the same time, survived numerous moves back and forth across the country in spite of losing many other possessions. The cosmos works in mysterious ways. Yes, the writing was very rudimentary and I do find it humorous now, but it affected me negatively to the extent that it still stands out in my mind today as the highlight of second grade.
This experience brings to mind many questions. How might bricolage have helped in this situation? And this question is not asked in terms of one individual but with the idea of presenting possibilities for many children who suffer from far worse types of debilitating experiences daily in the standards-and-test-driven schools of today where teachers are losing their professional privilege to design curricular materials (Kincheloe, 2003b, 2008c).
Wundt(er) What Happened to Soul? As a new second grader, I loved learning about the sun, but learning from one oral report and only one perspective in which the teacher used a traditional direct teaching approach was extremely limiting and even debilitating. It is interesting to consider briefly the history of direct instruction in the United States and the ramifications it has on the human mind. Direct teaching of the form used today can be traced back to William Wundt. Born in 1832 in Germany, he was a psychologist who operated from a positivistic point of view and had founded educational psychology. He determined that it was not possible to study and quantify the human soul, thus, he eliminated the consideration of soul when he developed educational psychology. This altered education from its initial goal of drawing out innate talents, interests and abilities to a “situation-response” formula for education, according to Iserbyt (1999, p. 2). Thus, students’ brains became viewed as objects for teachers to insert pre-specified information. This process discredits what children already know because it’s not pre-specified conventional knowledge (Kroll, 1998). Kroll suggests that teachers spend more time critically exploring the writing development of the children they teach, contending that “if educators can start with what and how children know, they have a better chance of designing developmentally appropriate instruction” (p. 139). As it stands, the writing process is deconstructed for teaching purposes while the child is trying to see the whole system, according to Kroll.  When this deconstruction and decontextualization turns into the system of high stakes testing in operation education today, it becomes dehumanizing and debilitating.
The teacher who had provided this lesson about the sun was clearly trained on Wundt’s model that eliminated a consideration of soul from instruction and taught in ways that only acknowledged learning from the five senses, primarily the ability to listen. The sun was described from a science perspective. She may have tried to appeal to visual learners by holding up a photograph. Much like the process of gradualism that those in power use to strip people of their rights and free thought, it was a step backward in my educational process. I knew how to learn, obviously, since I came to school nearly knowing how to read already and no one had provided direct instruction. In school I was being prevented from learning.
Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage. How could things be done differently? How might multidimensional critical complex bricolage be introduced to young learners who are beginning to learn to read and write? As Kincheloe and many other educators today prescribe, the best place to begin is with what the child already knows. This assignment also could have been made more interesting and personal if the teacher had taken the class to the library to allow students to do their own research on the sun. I loved the school library and wanted to be there every day, not just the one time a week.  She could have also highlighted the different interpretations and perspectives about the sun, from the sciences to religion to mythologies, and experiential activities. She could have shown artwork in which the sun was prominent and let the children discuss how the sun was represented. There is music about the sun and memorable experiences being in the sun. The topic is vast, open, and multidisciplinary and each child could have been encouraged to focus on their particular interests. And to broaden it further, bringing in hermeneutics and polysemy the teacher might have pointed out that sun and son are pronounced the same but are different ideas, yet related in some unexpected ways. Remembering my interests at that age, I would have been fascinated at the idea of contemplating Jesus as the sun of God, for example, or of the story of Osiris and Isis. If the “epistemological road trip” takes a child “off topic” from the sun, so what? Does that matter? The sun is clearly connected to everything.
When my oldest son was in school and I was called in for meetings I often heard from the teachers that he was a problem during discussions because “he gets off topic.” Knowing my son, I also knew he had made some interesting connections in his mind. It would be fascinating to learn more about how children who get “off topic” get from point A to point Z when everyone else is still on A. It is very likely not linear, and we could learn a lot about how these creative children think and come up with their creative ideas (their consciousness construction) if we simply praised them and explored their paths. Albert Einstein is a great role model for that nonlinear form of thinking. This alludes back to the idea of empirically researching bricolage as a complex process comprised of processes for understanding that everyone might benefit from. In my own research for this project, I often took what I call the “scenic route” and if I followed it through not even knowing why, but simply went with the flow, the reasons would become clear down the line. One day I discovered an entire “Beaver Town” on a Treasure Hunt epistemological road trip, which amplified all of the previous humorous Hermes jokes and synchronicities about the “Eager Beaver Critical Pedagogue” discussed earlier in this dissertation. Every business in the town was a “Beaver” business, and even the “Beaver Community Church” sat on the corner of “Beaver Street.” I had great fun that day and I had simply followed the less traveled road, as guided by a great Master Teacher.
Critical Complex Epistemology. Hermeneutics, critical complex epistemology, and many research methods could have been interwoven in that early lesson about the sun/son that would have allowed learners to capitalize on their interests and create a range of knowledge products that demonstrated their understanding. That reminds me of the blessed opportunity I had to meet Joe. I know; this seems out of context, but it’s not. He knew I was an online student and there are sometimes limitations in that regard if we don’t step outside our learning boxes. He asked me if I could say “epistemological.” He was joking and I said it for him really fast, and we both laughed. Something about Joe, even from that very first moment meeting him, made me sense his humor and feel comfortable revealing my human foibles. The point is, however, we must teach children not only to say “epistemological” (and watch them laugh), but we must teach them what it means and how to do their own critical complex epistemological investigations. We can show them how much joy there is in “treasure hunts” and “epistemological road trips” in the real world as well as online. We can convert those boring predetermined single destination web quests into self-created web quests of every imagination. Learners can create their own “worksheets” and other creative projects to share with the other students, and of course, write stories and picture books. The guardians of education would never go for that at this particular juncture in history: the children might maintain their natural love for learning, thinking, and creating. And they might acquire the HOT knowledge Texan lawmakers are attempting to outlaw (Naik, 2012). Heaven help us.
Hermeneutics to the Rescue. In relation to this idea, I remember before entering school I used to receive some interesting stories in the mail that were written in a format for beginning readers. Images and symbols replaced some of the words and there was a hermeneutic/polysemous quality to them which I enjoyed and learned a great deal from. Thus, the stories might very well have had an image of the sun when the story was about a father and son. When I discovered it was not like that when I entered school, that the worksheets were immensely boring and mechanical, I became increasingly disappointed with school. By the time I reached middle school and found that so much of what we were learning and the way we had to learn it was just a rehash of the unsatisfying curriculum I had already been exposed to, I had given up the idea of becoming a teacher. My interests diverged from teaching to art where I thought I could at least be creative. However, in college, my creativity was squelched rather than enhanced by most of the art assignments so again I changed directions, moving toward the sciences and education. Today, I actually prefer to engage all of these disciplines in my work.
Herman Knew Tics. The multidimensional critical complex bricolage includes teaching even preschoolers the value of interpretation using hermeneutics. As stated, one of my most interesting and fun early reading experiences was before I even entered school and it made use of hermeneutic techniques. Contrary to what some teachers might believe, it did not confuse me, but actually made learning to read easier and more fun. I can see it now: “Kincheloe’s Hermeneutic Reading Quest.” I actually wrote a story about a guy named Herman and he knew ticks well (and a lot of hermeneutic magic tricks, too). He lived in the forest and was always getting tics. Even though he was isolated in the forest, he had a computer and high speed Internet connection, so he researched tics and ticks and even tocks. He knew about all different kinds of ticks! The moral of the story: Herman Knew Tics! Oh well, sometimes my imagination goes wild, but still, I think children might enjoy stories and learning that are based on hermeneutic concepts and learn to pronounce hermeneutics at the same time. Taking time to learn the pronunciation of hermeneutics is not as off-the-wall an idea as one might think, considering that some of us as online doctoral students have mispronounced the word as “hermenetics,” perhaps confusing it with hermetic or hermeticism, which are related. That gives perspective on why I found Joe’s question about whether I could pronounce “epistemological” so humorous. He really did “get it.” Our sharing of our foibles crossing the U.S.-Canadian border was even funnier.
Today, of course there is the library and the Internet and children should be taught to use both resources proficiently for their own research, even beginning in early elementary school, including sound files to help with pronunciation. The Internet should not be used primarily for predefined teacher-dictated research or the library solely to check out a story to have read to them, although that’s important too. Children should also be allowed to write words as they sound (and today, thankfully, this is a practice that is encouraged in some schools). At the same time, care must be taken so that the child comes to understand they are using this as a process in order to learn how to spell more words and thus improve their writing. Thus, they should be shown the correct spelling and allowed to make corrections as the natural process of learning to write, not as some punitive process that makes them feel deficient just because they have not learned the proper spelling yet. The teacher could encourage dialogue about what the children learned in their research, perhaps providing the children opportunities to record their stories and reports or use voice-to-text technology so that the words they know can be translated to the computer screen or printed out. Then, to ensure they understand what they have written and as a process for learning to read, they can practice reading it until they recognize all of the words. Children would be able to learn to read and write so much easier if they can tell or choose their own stories and teachers make the move away from scripted reading programs (C. Anderson, 2011). Of course, technology back when I was learning to read and write was not at the level it is today but it was still a possible approach that could have been taken on some level. And while today the technology is readily available, it is not being utilized in productive ways. Instead it’s being used to drill knowledge into children’s brains or to fit children into specific “reading boxes.” There are many ways technology can be integrated into the classroom yet today that are not being accomplished. Even Internet use is vastly restricted. There are “technology integration” classes that teachers are required to take as part of their professional development coursework, yet technology has not been integrated into the classrooms of America. These things seem like common sense.
Thus, something as simple as a teacher laughing at a child’s work, when analyzed educationally, psychologically, socially, and politically is complex and has multidimensional levels of interpretation. These dynamics and interrelationships, even in this one minor example, can be explored more fully. If teachers were to allow their students more freedom to explore their own interests, guiding them toward interdisciplinary learning that centers on these interests, thus, engaging in the introductory aspects of bricolage, it would create more positive, productive, and enjoyable learning experiences. There are infinite ways to teach creatively while still addressing the educational standards, but it’s getting more difficult today as teachers are finding their freedom to teach stripped away from them and they are increasingly being forced to teach more students and become more technocratic, teaching from scripts. Teachers would benefit from the critical bricolage approaches presented in Kincheloe’s (2003a) book, Teachers as Researchers, and would discover productive means to create the changes that are needed.
Autopoietic Flow: Where Did It Go? Critical complex epistemology and multidimensional critical complex bricolage capitalize on autopoieses which works naturally to increase cognitive ability. Consciousness construction, when allowed, becomes self-construction. Kincheloe (2008c) describes this Santiago theory of cognition, also known as enactivism that was developed using bricolage and incorporates chaos and complexity theories:
Maturana and Varela’s basic idea here is that living beings constantly remake themselves in their relationships with their environments and contexts. When such an idea is applied to a critical complex epistemology, we can visualize the emergence of a critical complex ontology—a notion of an autopoietic selfhood where we constantly reconceptualize ourselves in relation to the demands of the contexts in which we operate, social justice, our confrontation with differences of various varieties and the knowledges we encounter. (p. 179)
How do we work with that “autopoietic flow” children seem to be attuned to instead of stifling it, as seems to be the purpose of schooling? I believe, first of all, we need to stop stifling it. My daughter, whom I homeschooled for part of her education, was highly in tune with flow. As often happens when engaging in flow, chaos can creep in. One day when she was about 11 years old, in spite of trying to keep her work organized, she had misplaced a piece she had been working on for a science lesson. I had written in my Master thesis (Paradis, 2005):

She had been working on a rap song about the parts of cells that she wanted to perform for her video.  When she wanted to work on it, it was nowhere to be found.  She decided to start over again and then became very frustrated. She informed me, “I don’t like forcing myself; I just like letting things flow the way they’re supposed to—the way God made it.” I asked her how she feels when she forces herself. “Not that happy.  I just don’t like the fact that I have to force myself. Science gets to be boring and pretty stupid to me,” she continued. (p. 37)


It is clear in this example that she was working against natural flow (probably because I had urged her to continue with the project to meet requirements of the program we were participating in). She loved science and making videos and now she had a negative experience attached to something she enjoyed. Most likely, if nature had been allowed to take its course she would have come across her rap song eventually and that would have prompted her to finish the project. But we were attempting to meet the objectives of a predetermined curriculum and timeline which illustrates how doing so hinders the natural educational process. On one occasion, when I let her deviate totally from the curriculum, she wrote an amazing paper on reincarnation and told me about what she remembered about her previous life. What was noteworthy was that I had never discussed the topic with her at all. Her “guides on the side” were apparently working with her. This process is contrary to how we typically raise and teach children, of course.  As parents and teachers we think we need to push and prod them, providing direct instruction, but this can be counterproductive as it was in this particular example.
During my own research, my books and articles became masses of chaos. I sometimes ended up “losing” things. But more often, I would just happen to pick up an article or open a book to the exact information I needed for my paper at the exact moment I needed it. As some people refer to it, it could be considered “organized chaos.” Something, some unexplored process, has put the chaos in the order it is currently, books and papers in piles all over my desk and the floor, too. Typically, toward the end of my research when I’ve finished the writing, I start filing things as I double check citations, so when I’m finished everything has been filed neatly, all references have been checked, and order has been created out of the chaos. I have learned to adopt a more flexible attitude about these matters and trust autopoietic flow.
As Kincheloe (2003a) provides with his book, Teachers as Researchers, teachers can also engage in their own critical action bricolage similar to the reflexive example above about my teaching my daughter to help inform their teaching so that they serve as informed guides to their learners rather than blindly following the technocratic instructions that research shows is “best practice,” accepting rules without question as handed down by upper administration, or following artificial timelines. Sure, it would rock boats! We need to tip the boats over, in my estimation. We don’t need to be just another “cog in the engine of the mechanisms of dominant power that harm people in all of our communities and around the world” (Kincheloe, 2008b, p. xi). It behooves parents, teachers, students, and administrators to consider what we can do to rock the boats of education and create change that can serve to alleviate suffering inflicted on the children and simultaneously provide for a rigorous, interesting education. While my examples about the sun and my daughter’s issues with “flow” are minor, there is immense suffering even at the elementary school level today in this high-pressured high stakes testing era. One thing is guaranteed with all of this: very few people will discover their Dharma Path and come to know Divine Love when they are so “psychologically debilitated” (as Kincheloe describes it).


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Big Deal-Catch Up 
“As a child I wanted so desperately for magic to be real. I would work for hours collecting what I hoped were just the right combination of ingredients to make some type of magic potion that would provide me with special powers….I found such magic in words viewed in a postformal matrix and I observe and practice that magic everyday.” (Kincheloe, 2006, Reading, Writing, Thinking, p. 13)
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