Review of

Rendón, Laura I. (2008). Sentipensante (Sensing/Thinking) Pedagogy: Educating for Wholeness, Social Justice, and Liberation.  Sterling, VA:  Stylus Publishing.

Recently academic and administrative faculty members at Eastern Connecticut State University were introduced to this text within our Project Compass community of practice. Launched in April 2007 by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and organized by the New England Resource Center for Higher Education, Project Compass is a multi-year regional initiative to help more underrepresented minority students succeed in and graduate from public four-year institutions of higher education in New England.  Although Professor Rendón was unable to participate, due to transportation challenges,  in our February 2011 regional meeting with colleagues from Bridgewater (MA) State College, Lyndon (VT) State College, and the University of Maine at Presque Isle, this text stimulated and inspired discussions on how we might further design and implement curriculum and student services to enhance student achievement at our universities.

Dr. Laura I. Rendón, Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies,College of Education and Human Development, The University of Texas San Antonio, develop this text “to assist in guiding the transformation of teaching and learning in higher education so that it is unitive in nature, emphasizing the balanced, harmonic relationship between two concepts, such as intellectualism and intuition, teaching and learning, the learner and the learning material, and Western and non-Western ways of knowing” (page 1).    

Professor Rendón writes that we need to move away from the privileged agreements currently governing higher education – 1. the  agreement to privilege intellectual/rational learning – that does not account for theories on multiple intelligences and emotional, spiritual, and heart intelligences;  2. the agreement of separation – with educational departments operating in silos and disciplines having little or no collaboration;  3. the agreement of competition – invoking the theory of endosymbiosis, that coming together, not competing, advances evolution;  4. the agreement on perfection – understanding that education is an inward journey of self-change; 5. the agreement of monoculturalism – on campuses with increasingly diverse students;  6. the agreement to privilege outer work – keeping ourselves busy with academic tasks to the neglect of our health and social lives;  and 7. the agreement to avoid self-examination – so that potential changes is not internalized by an individual’s actions (pages 24 – 48).

Drawing from others’ stories, the experiences discussed within interviews of 14 faculty members in community colleges and state universities who are striving to create an integrative, consonant pedagogy, Dr. Rendón describes how these colleagues used journaling, field experiences, service learning, students’ creation of personal statements, and positioning themselves as social change agents, healers, and liberators to move students beyond knowledge to wisdom.   The respondents suggest strategies to encourage change in learning and teaching – recognizing the flaws of the old vision; engaging in pedagogical dissent by operating under the radar screen, emphasizing scholarly achievement, finding supportive colleagues, assuming powerful roles on campus, having a strong mentor, and adopting the ethic of working harder than others; becoming confident with one’s own style;  and assessing students after setting high standards of learning, providing constructive feedback, and recognizing that learning takes time and may continue beyond the academic term.  Of these professors, students write that they appreciate their holistic approach to teaching and learning, their service as role model, mentor, and friend, their investment in their students’ learning and social development, and their development of a classroom community where learning is transformative and social consciousness and personal emancipation are awakened. 

Building on the experiences of these colleagues, Professor Rendón posits that the sentipensante approach strives to foster the educated person of the 21st century by disrupting and transforming the entrenched belief systems within higher education, cultivating personas educadas, well-rounded individuals who possess knowledge and wisdom, and “to instill in learners a commitment to sustain life, maintain the rights of all people, and perserve nature and the harmony of our world” (pages 135 – 136). She concludes that “just like any other pedagogical approach, the model I propose will not work for all faculty, and not all students will respond well to an approach that invokes heartfelt emotions as well as logical thought processes. …One must be willing to work within the paradox that conflictual situations and chaotic disturbances are the guides to growth and true change” (page 147).  Professor Rendón calls for “spiritual warriors who are on this magical journey … [towards] the vision of a transformative dream of education that speaks the language of heart and mind and the truth of wholeness, harmony, social justice, and liberation” (page 151).

If you would like to see Dr. Rendón further discuss her ideas, please link to

Rendón, Laura I. (2008).  Interview with Laura Rendon on her new book Sentipensante Pedagogy.  Retrieved from

If you would like to comment on this review, please visit .



Vanguard February 2011

David Stoloff, Vanguard Media Features Editor,

(also found at Media Review:  Troubled Academics in Media,  Connecticut AAUP Vanguard.   Volume 31, Number 1 (Spring 2011), page 4.)

If you might be interested in reviewing media related to higher education – our life-styles, news, upcoming events on television, films, radio, music – for the online version of the AAUP Connecticut Conference, please contact David Stoloff at .

Troubled Academics in Media: 

Three Films on the Tribulations of Male, White Professors in the 21st Century:

Jacobs, S.; Monticelli, A.M.; & Sherman, E. (Producers), & Jacobs, S. (Director). (2008). Disgrace.  Australia: Fortissimo Films.

Weinstein, B.; Weinstein, H.; & Lucchesi, G. (Producers), & Benton, R. (Director).  (2003). The Human Stain.  United States:  Miramax Films. 

Rosenberg, T. & Lucchesi (Producers), & Coixet, I. (Director). (2008). Elegy.  United States:  Samuel Goldwyn Films. 

also posted at

            Pity the poor male, white professor!  Three movies in the last decade, based on novels by two renowned novelists, feature the challenges of desire, secretive lives, and forces beyond the walls of the academy on the endangered species, once lions in the jungle of intelligentsia, the white, male professor. 

            Going the distance from Connecticut, Disgrace is an Australian film set in South Africa, based on the 1999 novel with the same name by Nobel Prize Laureate (for fiction in 2003) John Maxwell (J.M.) Coetzee.  Coetzee has been a professor on 3 continents.  A native of South Africa, he earned his doctorate from the University of Texas, Austin, after several years in London as a computer programmer in the 1960s.   For 3 years, he was an assistant professor of English literature at SUNY Buffalo, until he lost his visa status due to his opposition to the war in Vietnam.  He returned to South Africa, where he taught at University of Cape Town for 28 years, eventually achieving the rank of distinguished professor of literature.   He immigrated to Australia in 2002, where he holds an honorary position at the University of Adelaide.

            For a trailer on Disgrace (film), please go to [].

            Disgrace (the film) was directed by Steve Jacobs from a screenplay by Anna Maria Monticelli.  It features John Malkovich, as a professor of literature who identifies with Milton’s Satan, alienated from his divorced wife, his daughter, and women with whom he has deep relationships for short periods of time.  When his affair with a student leads to her attempted suicide, Professor David Lurie pleads guilty before a faculty tribunal and is banished to the East Cape home of his daughter, played by South African actress Jessica Haines, who is trying to build an agricultural community in the post-apartheid society.  Father and daughter are attacked by three men from the community, leaving the daughter with child and the father with facial burns.  Both then struggle with finding safety in a new South Africa and rebuilding new lives.  Within that struggle, Lurie attempts to seek forgiveness from the student and her family.  The daughter becomes one of the wives of a local community leader so that she might raise her child and maintain her home in security. 

            In Disgrace, academics are seen as role-players within specific and limited communities.  In The Human Stain, a 2003 American film directed by Robert Benton, from a screenplay by Nicholas Meyer from the 2000 same-named novel by Philip Roth, Professor Coleman Silk (played by Anthony Hopkins) is disgraced after he used a perceived ethnic slur in his classics seminar and is hounded into retirement by a faculty writing campaign.  He begins a relationship with a troubled janitor (played by Nicole Kidman) that leads to his accounting of his life history to a younger writer, Nathan Zuckerman (played by Gary Sinise), a repeating character within the Rothian universe.  It turns out that Professor Silk has been passing as a white, perhaps Jewish man, for most of his adult life.  His roots were in the African American community in Newark, NJ, where he began his path away from his family when he joined local Jewish immigrant boys in a boxing club.  As in many novels by Philip Roth, the pettiness of academia is mixed with the uncontrollable sexual desire of faculty men.  In The Human Stain, the tragedy of always being a stranger to self and to others is magnified as one comes to the end of one’s powers and reasons for living. 

For a trailer on The Human Stain, see []. 

In Elegy, a 2008 drama directed by Spanish director Isabel Coixet and based on a 2001 Philip Roth novel, The Dying Animal, the caring for an ill, young student (played by Penélope Cruz) by David Kepesh (played by Ben Kingsley), also a recurring Roth academic character, and the sudden death of a mentor (played by Dennis Hopper) teaches the aging cultural critic and professor that connections between people make life bearable.  Kepesh is an academic super-star, renowned for his radio programs on literature, but is unable to understand emotional attachments.   Initially, Kepesh cannot reach across the generational and cultural distances with Consuela and loses her when he is unwilling to commit his professional persona and future to her.  Their relationship returns when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. He cares for her during what seems as her dying days. 

For trailer on Elegy, see [] .  

The challenges of connecting with women students for faculty men, their over-estimation of their powers and abilities, and their inabilities to operate in a world where they have lost control due to much larger cultural forces are highlighted in these films.  Your comments would be welcomed at