Phenomenological researchers have held a well-attended conference titled “Embodiment(s): Phenomenological ‘DoubleMovement’ between Educational Theory and Bodily Practice in Pedagogical Fields” at the congress “MOVEMENTS” of the German Educational Research Association (GERA). How can moved embodiments become the subject of research? Point of origin was the phenomenological perspective of embodiment as kinaesthetic movement, which, as relation of the lived body, is directed towards itself, others, material and imaginary objects as well as the intellectual sphere. Children, adolescents and pedagogues are in a bodily movement with and towards each other in pedagogical situations. They embody themselves in a shared movement, in which they respond to actions, objectives and claims of others.
The contributions discussed the concept of embodiment as an interrelation of body and lived body in the context of cognition, language, sense and sociality. They took up the recent international discourse on embodiment with regard to neurosciences, poststructuralist discourse theory, hermeneutics, image theories as well as theories of pointing and gesture in the realm of cultural studies.
In their presentation, “Embodiments: Embodied Dimensions of Communication between Pedagogical Professionals and Children in Day Care Facilities” Ursula Stenger and Uta Thörner demonstrated how pedagogical situations between professionals and children develop in response to pre-existent cultural structures and norms. Subsequently, the embodied-bodily communicative situation between professionals and children was interpreted as the development of a mutually shared world with regard to Merleau-Ponty and Nancy’s thoughts on sociality and corporeality. These embodied-social constitution processes were presented in the form of videos and video analyses.
Malte Brinkmann presented a theory of embodied understanding (“Embodied Understanding in Pedagogical Contexts: Theory and Empiricism of an Inter-Corporeal Hermeneutics of Expression”). He pointed out that understanding as a pedagogical process contains an inherent logic regarding experiences within learning and educating – with a shift towards a perspective on lived-bodily and bodily-moved embodiment. Using examples from video analysis, he showed that understanding is an inter-corporeal practice of responsive embodiment, in which material and normalising aspects occur on the one hand and performative and singular aspects on the other.
Denis Francesconi (Aarhus University) introduced the concept of Embodied Cognition Theory (EC) as a research programme between cognition theory and phenomenology. He subsequently adopted this perspective for the practice of mindfulness meditation as an embodied practice in teacher education.
In his presentation, „Gesture, Atmosphere and Movement: Bodily Dimensions of Sociality in the Classroom” Severin Sales Rödel explored gestures and movements in the classroom as embodiments, in which teachers and pupils show themselves in a specific way. Using the practice of video analysis, phenomenological perspectives on atmosphere and situation have been suggested for a bodily- and embodied-theoretical classroom research.
The high participation and manifold discussions showed that phenomenological perspectives are regaining attention within philosophy of education. A volume on “Embodiments” is in progress and will be published as part of the book series “Phenomenological Philosophy of Education”.
Malte Brinkmann