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Permanent link (DOI): https://doi.org/10.7939/R3J38KR0S
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Inviting the Body into the Classroom University of Alberta
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Body as Knower
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This project explores the body as a way of knowing in an educational dance classroom. The purpose of this research is to demonstrate the importance of acknowledging and fostering the body in education, and to offer teachers a means for inviting the body into their classrooms through activities. This research resides in an animated paradigm, which conceives the world as organic, alive, and in flux. Here both the body and the unconscious are valued.
Using C. G. Jung’s theories of analytical psychology, focusing on active imagination and the unconscious, along with the educational philosophies of Alfred N. Whitehead, where bodily feelings and experience are crucial for learning, bodily awareness is proposed as another way of knowing, and thus should be invited into and fostered within the classroom so to enhance student learning. From an educational perspective, the body is alive and so an active part of learning. The body is central to our lived experiences, connecting past to present, even future, and according to Jung, it too reveals the unconscious. The body is always apprehending and sensing the world, but it is not until one acknowledges these felt sensations, and explores them further, that awareness is developed.
In using the guiding theories of Whitehead, Jung and some of Jung’s key students: Joan Chodorow, Judith Harris, Mary Starks-Whitehouse, Tina Stromsted, and Marion Woodman, I develop a teacher resource, in the form of activity cards, so to invite the body into the classroom. There are 16 cards divided into 3 categories: “Getting into the Body”, “Body Activities”, and “Grounding” cards. The cards are presented in a specific order, conducive to the process. The aim of each category of cards is to assist students in developing deep listening practices by quieting the mind and bringing awareness to the body through the “Getting into the Body” cards, to engage in a dialogue between the conscious and the unconscious with the “Body” cards, and to return awareness from the body and the inner world back into the space, grounding and rooting the individual with the “Grounding” cards. There is also an instruction manual to assist teachers in presenting the cards to their students. By selecting, creating, and presenting these cards, knowing with the body is made more accessible for teachers to support their students.
What arises from my research is that the body plays a significant part in learning and when given the opportunity it can reveal one’s character, desires, hopes, and history. By acknowledging the body in the classroom students become more aware of the continual responses of the body and in turn develop a greater sense of self and even well-being. When teachers provide embodied learning opportunities for students, in the circumstances of their actual life, learning becomes meaningful and valuable for the individual. As we begin to understand ourselves as “bodily,” our relations with one another, tree, bird, vegetable, and building, may start to reflect this respect and care.
Keywords: active imagination, analytical psychology, animated paradigm, bodily awareness, body as knower, dance classroom, depth psychology, education, unconscious
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