Most recently, as an attempt to push the boundaries of the Western scientific imagination in educational research, a number of scholars have called for the humanization of educational reform, thus foregrounding “human interests” as a priority in theory and practice. For the ancient Egyptian, Greek, and other spiritual, metaphysical, and psychological practitioners, soul itself appears to connect three seemingly different aspects of our being—the mind, the will and the emotional state of the person. The ancient Egyptians believed that the heart of alchemy is spiritual. Moreover, the notion of transmuting lead into gold, for example, served as an analogy for personal transmutation, purification, and perfection of the soul; thus obtaining what is known as the “Philosopher’s stone”, being the knowledge of one’s self. Unlike ancient times, and as a result of the Western Scientific imagination and the aims of modernity, the soulful pursuit in academia has been replaced with a fragmented approach to learning for material gain; consequently, neglecting the soul for the sake of certitude and efficiency. In attempts to reclaim the soulful connection in academia, scholars and practitioners have conceptualized the soul in multiple ways. Some scholars have framed the soul as a “perspective” or as an elusive source of energy driven by “a deep connection between people” that can be emotionally “felt” by connected-participants in the classroom (Kessler, 2002, p. 5). By recognizing the soul as a socially, culturally and historically influenced entity that manifests itself through multiple-formations of the self, the soul is also culpable of being politicized and therefore has the potential to reveal our inherent interconnectedness as fellow humans. It has long been accepted in contemporary academia that our own thoughts, words and actions are interwoven on multiple levels and thus directly influences the way we come to see and know ourselves. It should therefore require no stretch of the imagination to also view our manifested souls as important to our social interactions and ourselves, especially in relation to educational research and our everyday schooling practices.
Phil Bostic, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States