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Willing to Learn

Passages of Personal Discovery

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Paperback published by Steerforth (Steerforth Press)

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About This Book
Writer and educator Mary Catherine Bateson is best known for the proposal that lives should be looked at as compositions, each one an artistic creation expressing individual responses to the unexpected. This collection can be read as a memoir of unfolding curiosity, for it brings together essays and occasional pieces, many of them previously unpublished or unknown to readers who know the author only from her books, written in the course of an unconventional career.
Bateson's professional life was interrupted repeatedly. She responded by refocusing her curiosity — by being willing to learn. The connections and echoes between the entries in her book are as intriguing as the contrasts in style and subject matter. The work is grounded in cultural anthropology but shaped by the observation that, in a world of rapid change and encounters with strangers, individuals can no longer depend on following traditionally defined paths.
Willing to Learn is arranged thematically. One section includes a sampling of writings about Bateson's parents, anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. The longest section focuses primarily on the contemporary United States and deals with life stages and gender. Bateson argues that because women's lives have changed most radically, women are pioneers of emerging patterns that will affect everyone. Another section deals with belief systems, conflict, and change, especially in the Middle East, and the final section with different ways of knowing. Bateson is a singular thinker whose work enriches lives by bringing fresh, original ideas to subjects that affect all of our lives. Willing to Learn is at once an articulation of and an enduring testament to the artistic creation Bateson has produced pursuing her own life's work.
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Writer and educator Mary Catherine Bateson is best known for the proposal that lives should be looked at as compositions, each one an artistic creation expressing individual responses to the unexpected. This collection can be read as a memoir of unfolding curiosity, for it brings together essays and occasional pieces, many of them previously unpublished or unknown to readers who know the author only from her books, written in the course of an unconventional career.
Bateson's professional life was interrupted repeatedly. She responded by refocusing her curiosity — by being willing to learn. The connections and echoes between the entries in her book are as intriguing as the contrasts in style and subject matter. The work is grounded in cultural anthropology but shaped by the observation that, in a world of rapid change and encounters with strangers, individuals can no longer depend on following traditionally defined paths.
Willing to Learn is arranged thematically. One section includes a sampling of writings about Bateson's parents, anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. The longest section focuses primarily on the contemporary United States and deals with life stages and gender. Bateson argues that because women's lives have changed most radically, women are pioneers of emerging patterns that will affect everyone. Another section deals with belief systems, conflict, and change, especially in the Middle East, and the final section with different ways of knowing. Bateson is a singular thinker whose work enriches lives by bringing fresh, original ideas to subjects that affect all of our lives. Willing to Learn is at once an articulation of and an enduring testament to the artistic creation Bateson has produced pursuing her own life's work.
Product Details
Paperback (384 pages)
Published: October 19, 2010
Publisher: Steerforth Press
Imprint: Steerforth
ISBN: 9781586421908
Other books byMary Catherine Bateson
  • Composing a Further Life

    Composing a Further Life
    The Age of Active Wisdom
    Mary Catherine Bateson—author of the landmark bestseller Composing a Life—gives us an inspiring exploration of a new life stage that she calls Adulthood II, a result of the longer life spans and greater resources we now enjoy. In Composing a Further Life, Bateson redefines old age as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and challenges us to use it to pursue new sources of meaning and ways to contribute to society. Bateson shares the stories of men and women who are flourishing examples of this “age of active wisdom”—from a retired boatyard worker turned silversmith to a famous actress to a former foundation president exploring the crucial role of grandparents in our society. Retiring no longer means withdrawing from life, but engaging with it more deeply, and Composing a Further Life points the way.

    Composing a Life

    Composing a Life
    Mary Catherine Bateson has been called "one of the most original and important thinkers of our time" (Deborah Tannen). Grove Press is pleased to reissue Bateson's deeply satisfying treatise on the improvisational lives of five extraordinary women. Using their personal stories as her framework, Dr. Bateson delves into the creative potential of the complex lives we live today, where ambitions are constantly refocused on new goals and possibilities. With balanced sympathy and a candid approach to what makes these women inspiring, examples of the newly fluid movement of adaptation--their relationships with spouses, children, and friends, their ever-evolving work, and their gender--Bateson shows us that life itself is a creative process. "Well-formulated and passionate ... Offers nothing less than a radical rethinking of the concept of achievement." -- San Francisco Chronicle "Fascinating ... A masterwork of rare breadth and particularity." -- The Boston Globe

    With a Daughter's Eye

    With a Daughter's Eye
    A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson
    Though many books have been written about the famous anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, none match the depth and intimacy of this classic memoir by their daughter. An illuminating portrait that throws new light on the couple's extraordinary scientific achievements. Photos.

    Elise Boulding

    Elise Boulding
    A Life in the Cause of Peace
    Elise Boulding has been among the most influential of social reformers to advocate the integration of peace studies and women's studies. Her ideas inspired a number of works addressing the role of the family in producing social change and discussing women's unique capacity for promoting peace through nurturing and networking. Boulding's additional ideas on transnational networks and their relationship to global understanding are considered seminal contributions to modern peace studies and have earned her the title of "matriarch" of the 20th century peace movement. This biography is divided into three parts. The first and third deal chronologically with the life of Elise Boulding, beginning with her childhood experiences as a Scandinavian immigrant. The 1940 Nazi invasion of Norway significantly influenced her concepts of pacifism and Quaker spiritualism, laying the foundation for her future work as a leader in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and her dynamic professional partnership with and marriage to the internationally known Quaker economist and poet Kenneth Boulding. Part Two expounds upon Boulding's philosophy of education, her role as a member of the Religious Society of Friends, her espousal of the conceptual evolution of cultures of peace, and her theoretical work in women's studies and peace research. In recognition of these achievements, Boulding has been the recipient of over 19 awards and was a 1990 nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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