ERG SES H 08, Practices, Sociology and Education
«Because body has been considered more as a ‘problem’ or a ‘sin’ than a ‘treasure’, there is much that is unsayable about bodies in classrooms.» (Estola & Elbaz-Luwisch, 2003:702)
The body is the great means of communication and is always present in our life experiences. Research in Education has given little importance to the body in pedagogical practice, although being a teacher is an embodied activity that happens in the body and between bodies (Estola & Elbaz-Luwisch, 2003).
The body concept has been dominated by the idea of separation between body and soul, body and mind, body and consciousness. Following the Nietzschean thought of man as a “bodily wholeness”, Merleau-Ponty explains about phenomenology of the body and brings to light the notion of corporeality, of embodiment (Merleau-Ponty, 1958). Men is bodily embedded in the world, that is, his relationships with others and with the world are mediated by the body (Reis, 2011: 38). Man is a phenomenological unit, whose existence is corporeal - the opening to the world and to himself is made by the body. In other words, the knowledge of the world and self-awareness are mediated by the body. Therefore, Merleau-Ponty does not see consciousness as a mental operation based on the separation I-subject / I-object, but rather as a 'reflective act from what is perceived by the body' (Reis, 2011: 39).
The body is a 'set of experienced meanings "(Merleau-Ponty, in Reis, 2011: 41). Subjectivity is a bodily experience. The body movement is what puts us in touch with each other and in relation to things, giving rise to a sensitive cognition, a 'cognitive act mediated by sensation "(Reis, 2011: 41).
Merleau-Ponty also sees the body as expression, stressing that it is not just an outer shell of the individual, but the very expression of being. I do not have my body, I am my body. Therefore, communication has a corporeal nature, in which the expressed does not exist separate from the expression, because the body is what it means. The body is a sign and it is message. Still within the communicative dimension, it is especially important to highlight the dialogical nature of the body, which serves its social nature. The body connects, connects us to each other - subjectivity is constituted from the inter-subjectivity as it is always relational. Thus, subjectivity is corporeality and Merleau-Ponty talks about an embodied subjectivity.
So, this argues against the disembodied rationality advocated by the traditional Cartesian model. Instead, the phenomenological approach encouraged by Merleau-Ponty “explores our experiences as embodied actors interacting in the world, participating in it and acting through it, in the absorbed and unreflected manner of normal experience”. (Dourish, 2001)
The goal of this paper is to understand the importance of the body in the pedagogical relationship, bringing to consciousness memories of daily experiences we all had with our teachers in school.
Estola & Elbaz-Luwisch. (2003). Teaching bodies at work. Journal of Curriculum Studies. 35 (6): 697–719. Merleau-Ponty. (1958). Phenomenology of Perception, Taylor and Francis e-Library. Reis, A. (2011). A subjectividade como corporeidade: o corpo na fenomenologia de Merleau-Ponty. Vivência. 37: 37-48. Dourish, P. (2001). Where the action is. The foundations of embodied interaction. Cambridge: The Mit Press. Clandinin, J. (2007). Handbook of narrative inquiry: Mapping a methodology. Sage Publications. Bolívar, A. (2002). "De nobis ipsis silemus?": Epistemology of biographical-narrative research in education. Revista electrónica de Investigação Educativa 4(1): 1-24. Manarte J, Lopes A, Pereira F. (2014) Contributions to the empirical study of immediacy in the pedagogical relationship through self-naratives. Journal of Pedagogy 5 (2): 209-225.
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