08 SES 12, Embodied Conceptions of Wellbeing in Education
In 1991, Francisco Varela, Eleanor Rosch and Evan Thompson published “The Embodied Mind. Cognitive Science and Human Experience” (revised edition 2017). This book represents the foundation of Embodied Cognition theory (EC) and enactive cognition. It marks an epochal shift from the traditional science of the mind (Gardner, 2011) with vast repercussions on a number of life and social sciences. EC is epistemologically based on an unusual mix of four main sources: complex system theory, evolution theory, phenomenology and Buddhism (Varela et al, 1991). One might have concerns about the theoretical solidity of such a mix of diverse approaches, however it seems to have worked out well considering the huge literature in and about EC nowadays available. Indeed, today EC is among the most well-established research paradigms within cognitive science, neuroscience and psychology and operates in many different areas, from the body-mind problem to intersubjectivity, from self-awareness to social cognition, from artificial intelligence to learning methods.
The concept of Embodied Cognition (EC) includes a variety of approaches involving embodied, embedded, extended and enactive cognition – sometimes referred to as the 4Es (Gallagher, 2017) – and it can offer meaningful contributions to educational research and practice, including the re-evaluation of the role of the body in educational experiences.
So far, however, little has been done to consider and bring forward the possible alliance between EC and education. Few attempts have been made in these directions (Gallagher and Francesconi, 2012; Francesconi and Gallagher, 2018; O’Toole & Simovska, 2018; forthcoming), but much more needs to be done in order to evaluate the feasibility and utility of the convergence of EC and education.
If the main research question that EC poses can be summarized as “what is the role of the body in cognition?”, then, from the educational point of view, the research question is “what is the role of the body in educational settings and processes?” The critique that EC poses to standard mentalistic and neurocentric models of the mind is mostly based on the assumption that sensory-motor systems play a structural role in human cognition and experience (Glenberg and Gallese 2012).
This has clear repercussions on education, starting with a critique about the way the body is conceived in schools (Standal, 2016): the body is basically expunged by the lived experience of students (and teachers) in the classrooms, and confined in the “desk-jail”, limited, restricted.
As studies and results on the role of the body in human cognition pile up (Kontra et al. 2015; Glenberg et al. 2011), the “brain-in-the-vat” hypothesis – the idea that the mind resides in the brain and that it can be detached from external factors such as body and environment – becomes weaker. EC also weakens the “body-on-the-chair” precept – the belief that to facilitate learning, movement in class must be basically prohibited and the body should be kept stationary. An EC approach to education promotes a new vision on the role of the body in educational settings and helps dismantle the panopticon model that modern schools are still based upon.
In our symposium, we aim at proposing three different perspectives on how EC can be connected to education in the specific area of wellbeing. This is due to the consideration that wellbeing can well act as the applicative field of the theoretical alliance between EC and education. The first presentation discusses the topic of Wellbeing Education with a focus on Mind/Body Attunement and Situated Ethical Actions. The second presentation offers an analysis of the issue of Phenomenology of the Other in schools. The third presentation is about qualitative methods to investigate embodied wellbeing through meditative practices.
Francesconi, D., & Tarozzi, M. (2012). Embodied education: a convergence of phenomenological pedagogy and embodiment. Studia phaenomenologica, 12, 263-288. Francesconi, D., & Gallagher, S. (2018). 9 Embodied Cognition and Sport Pedagogy. Handbook of Embodied Cognition and Sport Psychology, 249. Gallagher, S. (2017). Enactivist interventions: Rethinking the mind. Oxford University Press. Gardner, H. (2011). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. Hachette UK. Glenberg, A. M., & Gallese, V. (2012). Action-based language: A theory of language acquisition, comprehension, and production. cortex, 48(7), 905-922. Kontra, C., Lyons, D. J., Fischer, S. M., & Beilock, S. L. (2015). Physical experience enhances science learning. Psychological science, 26(6), 737-749. O’Toole C. & Simovska, V. (2018). Reclaiming wellbeing as an educational goal: Embodied wellbeing and post-critical Bildung. Paper presented at ECER, Bolzano Sept 4-7th. O’Toole C. & Simovska, V. (under submission). Thinking with cognitive science and Bildung to theorise wellbeing in education. Standal, O. (2016). Phenomenology and pedagogy in physical education. Routledge. Varela, F. J., Thompson, E., and Rosch, E. (1991). The embodied mind: Cognitive science and human experience. Cambridge: M.A: MIT Press.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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