On Pedagogy (For All Of Us)

I am soooo loving this book, From Teaching to Thinking: A Pedagogy for Reimagining Our Work. Ann Pelo is one of the authors, who I know personally. She is thoughtful and grounded. My pages are rather dog-eared now. Poems. Passages. Insights that I want to carry with me for next gatherings that I’m part of.

This book is written in the context of the educational field, particularly early education. I want to suggest it’s reach is so much broader. For pedagogy, a theory of how any of us learn, and a statement of assumptions about context — well these matter to all of us. It’s the thing behind the thing that shapes how we encounter each other.

It’s a book about being better humans, together. It presupposes and advocates a shift from “teaching to” to “thinking with.” It highlights two grounding and guiding questions of significance that underlay so much of what any of us are up to in most every field of human endeavor. 1) What kind of people do we want to be? 2) What kind of world do we want to live in?

This book grows thoughtfulness, in part because it’s grounded in stories of young kids learning. And because it highlights the leadership, and I would say human-growing, that is culture making. We make who we are and how we are in the world by what we become with one another, starting anywhere.

From Ann and her coauthor Margie Carter, their reflections on “pedagogical leaders”…

  • hold the space for generativity
  • cultivates in self and community an appreciation for and aptitude with complexity
  • seeks to increase the diversity of perspectives that contribute to a conversation, understanding that many stories can be true at the same time
  • develops intellectual discipline in the community, the discipline that is necessary for collaborative study and intentional action
  • links theory and practice in continual conversation
  • tells the stories of the community — stories about children, stories about educators, stories about families.

Glad for any of us with the courage to name the story under the story.

Teaser — Book Publishing Nearer

For the last year, a lot of my writing practice has been creating and compiling poems. The poems mostly begin with raw material from my private journal. It’s been sense-making. It’s been healing. It’s been getting the inner to the outer. The title came to me as I was learning to befriend despair, rather than just resist or deny it.

Along the way, a friend encouraged me to consider publishing to book format and harvest. I’m grateful for the support of CentreSpoke Publishing.

I’m excited (and a bit nervous also) to share that a book release is near.

A Cadence of Despair:
Poems and Reflections on
Heartbreak, Loss, and Renewal

I’m awaiting “proof copy” now. Which means that after a few more edits, it’s going to print. Ordering information will be available mid March. As will a  website with more info and context.

A Cadence of Despair has some pretty thick and heavy material in it. It’s got the deeply personal that I believe connects to the broader universal. My intent has been honesty. Authenticity. Vulnerability. The chapters follow a progression that descends to shame and grief, peeks up with hints, insights, and friendships. It descends again to loss and fear, to rise again to renewal and new life. I would offer that the descent is as important as the ascent in these journeys of well-being that so many of us seek. I wrote this book (it’s also accurate to say that this book wrote me) originally thinking it was more for men, but I think it is for women also — we are all trying to find our way.

I’m grateful for readers and the praise they’ve offered, which will be included in the book or on the website. Below is a little sample from a few of my writer friends.

From Christina Baldwin, Author of Life’s Companion, The Seven Whispers, Storycatcher, and The Circle Way

In this brave and vulnerable book, Tenneson Woolf illustrates once again that we humans are made stronger at our broken and mended places. His mid-life descent, survival, and ascent into a man still in process is a profound map. We may try to avoid these dark corners, but whatever we, the reader, face will be strengthened by the light he shines.

From Margaret Wheatley, Author of many books including Perseverance, Leadership and the New Science, and Who Do We Choose To Be

Whenever anyone tells the truth about their experience, hiding nothing, we have the chance to recognize the human experience. Dark nights of the soul are an initiation into spiritual wisdom. Dwell with Tenneson in these poems and you’ll know what this means. If you find yourself in these pages, you will have received the gift that Tenneson offers.

From Charles LaFond, Author of Note to Self: Creating Your Guide to a More Spiritual Life

Tenneson has wandered the valleys of grief and the mountains of success. His poetry is a companioning prescription for anyone living life with all of its joys and sadnesses. These poems are soul-food – healthy and healing. Drink deep of these poems and be not alone.

From Ann Pelo, Author most recently of From Teaching to Thinking: A Pedagogy for Reimagining Our Work

In his brave book, Tenneson embodies the courage of vulnerability and the grace of truth-telling. “Be with life,” he writes, and that’s the story he offers us—the story of being with life, in grief and discovery, with companions and alone and, always, with steadfast presence. In his poetry and essays, Tenneson opens his heart to us, and invites us to open our hearts to life.

Excited. Nervous. Grateful. And near.


3/17/20 — It’s now live. Please enjoy exploring here and ordering a copy as inspired. With appreciation.

This Place

I did something on a whim this morning. Didn’t follow the routine, good as it generally is — journal, meditate / breath, blog, exercise, shower, breakfast snack, start Pandora station Classical for Study, work.

I went for a walk. Down Lakeview Road (once upon a time before development the lake was a bit more viewable). Past the horse pastures in which each year a couple of new ones come along. To Pheasant Brook Park. The moon was still up and near full. The mountains were purplish in their wakened morning hue.

I brought my journal with me. In the park, I sat on a bench to breath, casually. A bit more deeply, as the mountains and something about being outside in the early morning, does in fact, inspire. And on that bench, I wrote two of last night’s dreams that I could catch.

My friend Ann Pelo reminds me in her book, The Goodness of Rain: Developing an Ecological Identity in Young Children, that it is important to walk the land. That’s Chapter 2, though it isn’t numbered. Ann is smart enough to challenge linearity. And, it’s in that chapter that Ann quotes Gary Snyder, American Pulitzer Winning Poet, Environmental Activist —

“Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul.”

My walking today was meditation. A different kind. Needed. Not sitting on my chair. Not with candle. My stillness was in movement. My light was the fading full moon and rising sun over Utah’s Wasatch Mountains.

I think I need some shake up. I don’t think I’m alone in this. Even from good habits that have become a bit stale and rigid. Practice is one thing, and the discipline it takes to establish practice as more that “a few times and then forget about it.” To get back to another kind of source. It’s likely “out there.” It’s likely also “in here.” My best teachers have always pointed me back to self and to simplicity.

I’m guessing that many of my posts in the next 30 days will simply be about place. Noticings of what is in front of me (isn’t this core for so many of us as needed skill and as hungered-for experience), with perhaps a bit of reflection, or perhaps, simply images.

This place.