Gestare Art Collective

The dream scroll travels to the University of British Columbia 
for a workshop with the Urban Learner Cohort, Life Writing Institute of 2013

Taking the dream scroll to professional K-12 teachers, of the Urban Learner Life Writing Institute, together we pondered:

What does it mean to rest, sleep, and dream? How can resting and dreaming, during the day, enhance teachers' and students' learning and creative processes?

What happens when we rest our busy, thinking minds, even for a little while? Take a nap in the middle of the day? Though a practice in many places the world over, an afternoon nap can feel like a strange notion to North American teachers - beyond the pre-school years. Teachers are so often on alert in the curriculum. How can we incorporate resting and dreaming into our work as educators?


It was a lovely, sunny summer day for our Nap-in. Students decide to go outside onto the grass for their naps, and are able to rest peacefully on the earth.

According to research from neuroscientists, attentive relaxation is linked to enhanced mental clarity. The "alpha" brain state is ideal for the free flow of imagination, for visualization, for dealing with emotions, and for experiencing happiness and pleasure. Learning is better absorbed when the mind is relaxed, yet alert.

After napping, we come back into the university classroom. We write down our wishes and dreams onto pieces of cloth--stitching these into the dream scroll with thread.

Quoting from poet-thinker Hélène Cixous--on dream and naps in writing:

“The central interchange is the body in metamorphosis. What the dream shows us in its theatre is the translation, in the open, of what we cannot see, of what is not visible but can be sensed in reality....this teaches me many things I do not know about my own secrets.” (Cixous, 1997, p. 28)

“Yet another thing: the “sleep” part of the writing activity, the biggest, the nocturnal part, does half the work for me. I go to bed in order to dream...In the morning I harvest."

"When I’ve depleted all my energy I sometimes go to bed to “think” and imagine with another rhythm then the desk’s high-pressure one, a floating rhythm, aswim, unhurried, when I let images, phrases come or come back, a state of alert passivity, this lasts half and hour, I “float”, and, indeed the current bears me along and nourishes me.” (Cixous, 2013, pp. 123-124)

References: Cixous, H. & Jeannet, F-Y. (2013/2005). Encounters: Conversations on Life and Writing (B. Bie Brahic, Trans.). Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Cixous, H., & Calle-Gruber, M. (1997). Rootprints: Memory and life writing (E. Prenowitz, Trans.). London and New York: Routledge.

Finally, we release our dreams, bringing the long dream scroll back outside into the warm sun in a ceremonial-like procession--our dreams fly free!

I'd like to thank the students of the UBC Urban Learner Cohort 10, for participating in this exploratory day of napping and dreaming with me! With special thanks to Dr. Erika Hasebe-Ludt, who invited me to bring this experiential, arts-based learning workshop into the summer Life Writing Institute of 2013.

May all our dreams have wings! 

Nané Jordan

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