An illustrated guide to embodied learning

From the review of literature I conducted for my independent research project, here is an illustrated guide to embodied learning:

Banking education

Central to Paulo Freire’s discourse is his aversion to “banking” education, where learning is a process of transmission, and students are “containers” or “receptacles” to be “filled” with static knowledge by teachers who operate as gatekeepers (Freire, 1970).

Dynamic learning

I argue that, in contrast to the banking concept, a critical pedagogical perspective encourages a dialogical approach in teaching. Rather than filling a student with knowledge, the teacher and learner should be involved in an exchange. Learning and teaching becomes more conversational, with learners who teach, and teachers who learn.

“The teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but the one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach. They become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow.” (Freire, 1970)

Situated learning

Kathleen Weiler discusses Freire’s views from a feminist perspective. She notes that Freire’s writing is abstract because it does not account for the inevitably complex backgrounds of both learners and teachers. And in response, she adapts Freireian ideas, gearing them towards a more situated perspective:

“Recognising the standpoint of subjects as shaped by their experience of class, race, gender or other socially defined entities has powerful implications for pedagogy” (Weiler, 1994)

Embodied learning

Donna Haraway critiques objectification of knowledge in science and technology in her article “Situated Knowledges” (Haraway, 1988). Situated knowledges is a way of viewing knowledge from multiple perspectives (seeing a “larger vision”) using multiple senses. The combination of multiple senses and perspectives situates knowledge in reality.

“Situated knowledges are about communities, not about isolated individuals. The only way to find a larger vision is to be somewhere in particular. The science question in feminism is about objectivity as positioned reality. Its images are not the products of escape and transcendence of limits (the view from above) but the joining of partial views and halting voices into a collective subject position that promises a vision of the means of on-going finite embodiment, of living within limits and contradictions – of views from somewhere.” (Haraway, 1988)

For Haraway, the process of shaping that reality is through collective multiple perspectives, and through an embodied understanding of the reality. Epistemology is embodied when it is viewed from multiple partial perspectives, and from the senses. As I have discussed, this way of approaching knowledge brings learners’ previous experiences to the forefront of the learning process, making the learning relevant.