"There is a saying that a teacher appears when the student is ready. I think the converse is also true. Allen appeared at a point in my academic life when I was ready to embrace and commit myself to a rather unconventional—an alternative, if you would like—conception of what it is to teach and what it is to pursue teaching as scholarship. The conventional or traditional in this case is that scholarship is fundamentally an individualistic pursuit, even though, in reality, the work of research and teaching is more a field phenomenon wherein individualistic accounting breaks down and is ultimately untenable. I would argue that what’s at stake for us in the academy is a confrontation between reality and ideology (in the present context, individualism), and the latter typically prevails. This has been frequently the case in the humanities and social sciences.

I have always been critical of the ideology of individualism, and I wanted to practice scholarship and teaching based on full recognition and support of the abovementioned field phenomenon that undergird what we do in the academy. Allen had a keen understanding and appreciation for all this, coming out of his decade of dedicated work of supporting, from behind the scenes, students and faculty members in post-secondary education. He was already seeing in action what I was talking about; and moreover, he could see the possibility of extending and augmenting the critical “human infrastructure”—as my colleague, Dr. Laurie Anderson terms it—in research and teaching.

I would like to use the horticultural analogy: the quality of fruits and vegetables we get is as good as the quality of soil. Cultivating and nurturing good soil is the first priority in horticulture. In the many diverse settings of teaching, learning, and researching, how do we collectively cultivate and nurture the soil that nourishes individual students, teachers, and the overall context of educational and human communities? Allen sees expanded and creative possibilities in this question. I believe his interest in contemplative learning and practice goes after that question with vigour and precision.

My eight years of academic journey with Allen has been a deep source of joy and fulfillment."

 

- Dr. Heesoon Bai

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Student Profile: Allen Yee

September 29, 2021
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Educational Theory and Practice doctoral student in the Faculty of Education

Professionally, I have been working in post-secondary for the past decade, first with international and study abroad students, and recently, in academic advising. There was a short stint to UBC, but that did not last very long as I was drawn back to the mountain. It was probably the snow, I do love snow. Academically, I finished my BA, PSYC Major at UBC and completed the MEd,Contemplative Inquiry program here at SFU.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I was fortunate enough to take EDUC437 (Ethical Issues in Education) with Dr. Heesoon Bai. This course transformed my perspective towards education, which led me to the Master of Education (MEd) in Contemplative Inquiry and Approaches in Education here at SFU. I wanted to continue working, studying, and researching with Dr. Bai, so SFU was my first and only choice.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

I am interested in the impact of contemplative practices in post-secondary administration. All educators teach more than their subject, whether they want to or not. Some of these extraneous teachings are overt, for example, a bias they may openly admit. Some of these extraneous teachings are subtle; they may have stress and concerns which would affect their work. These subtleties can have drastic effects on the classroom and learning environment. This is an example of my research in contemplative inquiry. What is on the outside is on the inside, and what is inside magnifies outward. So how can we support these educators, inside and out? One way this can happen is through contemplative practice. Contemplative practices are activities that help us better understand our inside and how it affects the outside. Some contemplative practice examples are mindfulness, meditation, land-based practices, gratitude, art, etc. I am interested in how these practices affect the infrastructure, the administrators who support the educators.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

The openness, support, and generosity from the faculty members, and the university. A special thank you to Dr. Heesoon Bai, Dr. Laurie Anderson, Dr. Charles Scott, Dr. Kumari Beck, Dr. Vicki Kelly, Dr. Celeste Snowber and Dr. Wanda Cassidy for their support and guidance.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?

I am grateful and fortunate to live, work, study, and play on the unceded traditional territories of the səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

 

Contact : ayee1@sfu.ca