The Pain of Yearning


Yearning isn’t easy. In our readings it is pitted against the idea of “schooling” or what I would consider performing well and succeeding within typically traditional institutions. The binary is too sharp here. The reasons are hidden (in this analysis) behind personal attributes, disappearing the socio-cultural and economic realities of many yearning schoolers.

I must admit, however, I yearn. According to Seymour Papert, yearning is the desire to seek around the system, around grades and norms within higher education. I remember vividly the day I learned to read and wanting more. Soon I began making small books out of my mother’s parchment paper. I was used to glossy pages. School was not easy. Disciplines were hard to adhere to, as were seats and time periods and fill in the blank assignments. As I grew older this shifting focus began to emerge as interdisciplinary thinking, or at least that’s where I found an educational system that fit. Even there, in a radically independent, individualized and interdisciplinary program yearning was painful. The college, or “fit” I found was in a Dewey pedagogy. The need for traditional assessment and evaluation –or schooling which had been reinforced for nearly twelve years—was difficult to surpass. Learning to accept that working around the system was a system itself took a level of un-schooling that learners are simply not prepared for through the traditional system.

Similar to Seymour Papert’s explanation of schoolers and yearners I followed the path of working around the system, entrenching myself in the work and ways of John Dewey and then finding myself in a program built on the work of Paulo Freire. Reading this article I realized how truly amazing my academic path has been—I do not believe that all yearners find (non)establishments to search and seek and create in the short amount of time I have. My junior high and high school instructors noticed my need to expand beyond the classroom. Had I not received their support I would likely have given up on the system or rebelled. Had I not found a Dewey-based college, passing and maintaining the idea of strict disciplines and limited course options would have made completing college difficult and likely impossible? However, again, I was given space and it was acknowledged. In a Freire master’s program yearning was celebrated—unlike many of the stories I hear in the seminar. I realize how unique these experiences are and as an educator within a more traditional research institution I hope to offer such space as I can because yearning isn’t easy.

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3 Responses to The Pain of Yearning

  1. Miko says:

    I really enjoyed your post. It really makes me believe even more in the idea of connected learning. There are many students always wanting more and wishing to connect their personal interest with education. It is necessary to give them chances to do so.

  2. jeena2010 says:

    I enjoyed the discussion of yearners and schoolers during out last class … This article is a subsidiary thought to the discussions from class … So far I classified myself as a schooler more, but now getting amazed with the idea of yearning and connected learning … Same is the idea of community learning also …

  3. Mahi says:

    First I must comment on your writing style, beautiful and unique. The title of the post really attracted me. I admit that I haven’t really felt that I’m a yearner till I experienced how to be a TA for sometime. I yearned for something different for my students, for more than just traditional schooling. I had to seek around the system, to be able to put them in a more learner centered experience and at the same time satisfy the expected traditional measures (their grades). It was really hard, painful and very time consuming. However, I believe it made me a better teacher and them better students I hope. Yes, yearning is painful.

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