Oren Ergas

I am very gratOreneful for the opportunity to be featured as member of the month. I’ll say some quite informal words about my”self”, or what I’ve managed to gather so far about “it”. By the time this will be posted it might not be fully relevant anymore, but I’ll do my best. So I’m Oren, the meaning of which in Hebrew is a “pine tree”. I lecture as an adjunct at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel and at Beit Berl Academic College in Kfar Sava. I am also a research fellow at IDC, Herzliya at the MUDA Institute for mindfulness in society. In the past ten years of my Phd, postdoc and onward to the present, my academic career has been focussing on the study of contemplative practices in education. I study this field based on my philosophical and sociological training on the one hand, but these are always grounded in my own contemplative practice on the other hand. That means that I work both to understand how this field is developing socially, and what kind of justifications are applied toward the incorporation of contemplative practices in the curriculum, but at the same time all this is grounded in my attempt to understand the practice as a pedagogy through my own body and mind. Contempaltive practice to me is a method of inquiry, that eventually serves as a way to reinterpret the meaning of “education”, “curriculum” and “pedagogy”. I’m currently writing a book on that.

I have tried many practices to which I have committed for shorter or longer periods. These include Vijnana Yoga, tai chi, Yi chuan, mindfulness, vipassana and several others and I was also a professional musician for many years so practice has always been my life. Tai chi and mindfulness are the ones I’ve been sticking with most as a daily practice.

The thrust of all I do is the overcoming of the divisions between academia and life, education and science, body and mind, and my wife and three kids will attest that I still have much work to do on the self/other domain. All in all I see no distinctions between being an academic, living, teaching, playing tag with my six year old, or writing. They are all life. They are all practice, and I’m not quite sure whether I got the order correct in these latter two sentences. They are all ways of my unfolding in this world that I seek to understand as they unfold, with the hope that my own unfolding is of service to others too.

I write quite a lot and teach courses that focus on the research I do in this field of contemplative education as well as generic courses in philosophy of education and curriculum theory. My courses always included contemplative practices through which I try to bring more students into a critical first person engagement with these practices. Based on this I hope that they too will examine these practices as education with a capital E, or at least make compelling arguments about why they are not as long as they tried them long enough. 

Most of my published papers (not always in the publised versions given publishing rights) are posted on http://huji.academia.edu/OrenErgas . My most recent publication is a co-edited book (with Sharon Todd of Maynooth Univesity): Philosophy East/West: Exploring intersections between contemplative and educational practices. (Wiley-Blackwell). In this book you will find chapters by good firends with which you are probably familiar from this network such as Claudia Eppert and Heesoon Bai as well as many other interesting work by dear friends.

I’ll end here, but any of you who wish to continue the conversation are welcom to write to me. I’ll also take this opportunity to wish us all that we will find meaning in our continued exploration of these paths, that seem to take us to where we need to be.

Oren Ergas, PhD

School of Education, Hebrew University

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