Jenell Paris has been teaching anthropology to undergraduate students for nearly 20 years. She loves anthropology, and she also loves teaching. Yet, like many teachers across the spectrum of education, she is also weighed down by the challenges of teaching in a setting marred by institutional instability, budget shortfalls, hyper-attentiveness to assessment, distrust between administrators and teachers, market pressures, threats of violence, and other problems. In this climate, it is easy for teachers to become disillusioned, and to disconnect from the passions that drew them to the profession.
With what is likely to be another 20 years of teaching ahead of her, Jenell used the mid-point of her career as a teacher to reflect on why she does what she does. Last fall, Jenell was a resident scholar at the Collegeville Institute during a sabbatical from teaching. She began writing a book of creative nonfiction to encourage teachers of all sorts and help them renew their love for teaching. Her project, which is tentatively titled, Spirited Teaching, explores the connections between spirituality and the practice of teaching. Weaving together anecdotes both humorous and poignant—most of them from her own teaching—Jenell develops a pedagogy based on the virtue of love. In fearful times such as these, only love is powerful enough to sustain teachers in their art. In this video interview, Jenell introduces us to her thoughts on spirituality and teaching.
The eight-minute video is divided into several sections, outlined below: