Teaching bodies at work
Abstract:In this article we take a close look at teachers' narratives in order to describe the practice of teaching as an embodied activity. Based on the phenomenological understanding of the body as an active and intentional reaching out from its physical existence, we listened to what Finnish and Israeli teachers' narratives tell us about the voices of the bodies and bodily positions in classrooms and schools. In addition we reflected on our own experiences of the embodied practices of teaching in academia and studying teaching.
We describe teaching from the perspectives of the 'presence'--of everyday teaching as embodied physical labour, of attractive and unattractive bodies, and of controlling bodies. The notion of body position is used as a metaphor for thinking about the holistic nature of teachers' work and education as an embodied activity. We found five bodily positions which connect the physical, cultural, and personal contexts of teaching bodies: presence; control; love and care; listening to oneself; and the position of protection. Although teachers know how important the different bodily positions are, this knowing is implicit and hidden. Attention to the body is a challenge. How do researchers find new epistemological commitments and methods to talk about bodies in education?