Sentipensante

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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9myr-glKZgE.

If you would like to comment on this review, please visit https://writingsdls.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/sentipensante/ .

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