Courageous Pedagogy in and through Compassionate Mentorship


How might the notion of compassionate mentorship inspire and inform courageous pedagogical practice?

How might art education inspire and inform courageous pedagogical practice?

Each semester, I am inspired to take up courageous conversations alongside students, with the hope that these moments might prompt occasions for/of transformation. Most recently, I have referred to these conversations as desirable difficulties--or openings for deeply felt transformation. I challenge students in my Aesthetics course to take up inquiry and respond to contemporary aesthetic puzzles in order to develop insight into aesthetic issues and ultimately test and challenge aesthetic theories. Working alongside Dr. Sara Scott Shields (Assistant Professor of Art Education at Florida State University) in the development of this semester’s course content, each week, our students are challenged to apply these aesthetic puzzles to their own personal experiences as students, artists and preservice teachers. Practicing compassion allows us, as educators, to hold open a space for students to contribute varied responses to otherwise difficult topics. Our students have exhibited courage in doing so.


Weekly engagements in their journals/sketchbooks have revealed their thoughtful consideration of class discussions and readings and serve as a reminder that when we accept the mantle of educator, we are necessarily in service of respecting and caring for our students. Especially, “if we [aim] to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin (hooks, 1994). I take inspiration from the visual/textual musing of my student (above image) and agree that in order to embody compassion, we must shift toward selflessness in order to connect with stories beyond our own, even when it is difficult to do so. That said, I believe that compassionate mentorship takes place when we allow ourselves to be in dialogue with one another rather than simply to or about one another.


What do you think? How might we contribute to mentorship in compassionate ways? In what ways are we preventing compassionate mentorship from taking place? I’d love to know your thoughts.


hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New

York: NY, Routledge.