The Bodywork of Learning to Teach: Toward a Somatic Framework for Teacher Education
Learning to teach is a mimetic process of cultivating the postures, positions, gestures, expressions and complexions of pedagogical sensitivity to other beings. Sustaining this learning process is a kinesthetic register of consciousness, heightened through practices of breathing, balancing, timing and feeling, and a somaesthetic register of consciousness, nuanced through practices of energy, flow, vitality and synergy. In other words, learning to teach has primarily to do with the behaviors of being sensitive to children and youth in all their particularities. Such behaviors, while reducible conceptually to skills or competencies, can be understood phenomenologically as being constituted by a motional consciousness that is evidently kinetic and aesthetic and that is subtly kinesthetic and somaesthetic. This experiential stratum, this observable, felt and finessed sense of learning to teach, is examined in a pre-service program where the disposition of pedagogical sensitivity guides the learning of student teachers and those who mentor them. The bodywork of learning to teach is outlined as a set of practices, drawn loosely from the arts and humanities, and specifically from the somatic disciplines of physical mindfulness and intercorporeal consciousness. A particular case is made for incorporating analogous ‘agogic’ practices, as found for instance in ‘equine-guided education,’ in order to attend fully and bodily to the pedagogic practice of learning to teach children and youth.
Keywords: Teacher Education, Pedagogy, Body Language, Phenomenology, Somatic Consciousness
Dr. Stephen Smith
Associate Professor, Director of Professional Programs