18 SES 10 A, 'Physical' Education: Dilemmas and Considerations
Our aim is to analyze dinghy sailors learning of body techniques in educational settings. The theoretical framework consists of a model of learning ‘body techniques’. It relies on situated and pragmatic perspective of learning and the development of an action oriented understanding of Mauss (1973) concept ‘body techniques’ (se Crossley 2006; Shilling 2008; Andersson, Östman & Öhman 2010). More specifically we rest on Dewey’s embodied theory of meaning as Mark Johnson (2007:273) defines it:
“Meaning is embodied. It arises through embodied organism-environment interactions in which significant patterns are marked within the flow of experience. Meaning emerges as we engage the pervasive qualities of situations and note distinctions that make sense of our experience and carry it forward. The meaning of something is its connections to past, present, and future experiences, actual or possible.”
Johnson here builds on the distinction Dewey makes between experience had and experience known. “Engage the pervasive qualities of situations” refers to the immediacy by which experiences are had. To “carry experience forward” refers to experience known.Dewey regards the distinction as an analytical one, because he does not believe that our knowledge derives from two different systems of experience. Commonly,Immediate experiences are easily associated with corporeal aspects (to move, to feel fear etc.) while experiences known are not. We develop a pragmatic model of learning ‘body techniques’ to show that Dewey developed an embodied theory of meaning which explains the continuity between experience had and experience known. As linguistic beings (capable of knowing experience by using symbols) we bear a powerful tool. Dewey were convinced that if we believe that our capacity to know experience only is for creating abstract concepts and propositional knowledge we will neglect the craft and the artistic dimensions we are capable of. Therefore, Dewey understands human beings moving from situations of immediate experience (experience had) to situations where we intellectualizing experience (experience known) as a process that aims at reinserting our self and our products in the immediate stream of life again. Only then will the continuity between experience had and experience known be recognized. We investigate these “reinsertions” as they take the form of intelligent habits in dinghy sailing. All such habits are truly embodied according to Dewey.
Mark Johnson (2007: 24-32) and Chris Shilling (2008:85-103) argues for placing movement at the center of human beings processes of meaning-making. This notion of movement and Dewey’s concept of habit are keys to understanding and investigating how we advance from psycho-physical activities to those ‘‘physio-psycho-sociological assemblages of series of actions’’ that Mauss (1973, p. 85) understands as ‘body techniques’. In Line with Shilling (2008:15) we here recognize habits as unifying “the body with the natural and social world in particular ways, having specific object and technologies as their targets, and exerting a certain command over the environment. Taking departure in this theoretical reasoning we have developed a model for conceptualizing and investigating teaching and learning “body techniques”. This model can in a simplified way be expressed as: we learn what we can do in the same movements by which we learn how things can be for us. Learning a body technique is then to situate movements and in power of shaping habits fill these movements with meaning.
Andersson, J., Östman, L. & Öhman, M. (2013). I am Sailing – Towards a Transactional Analysis of ‘Body Techniques’. Sport Education and Society. DOI:10.1080/13573322.2013.802684 Crossley, Nick (2006). Reflexive Embodiment in Contemporary Society. Berkshire: Open University Press Johnson, Mark (2007). The Meaning of the Body – Aesthetics of Human Understanding. Chicago: University of Chicago Press Mauss, Marcel (1973). Techniques of the body. Economy and Society, 2(1), 70- 88. Shilling, Chris (2008). Changing Bodies: Habit, crisis and creativity. London: Sage. Wickman, P.-O., & Östman, L. (2002). Learning as discourse change: A sociocultural mechanism. Science Education, 86, 601-623.
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