Moving to Learn: Experience, Embodiment, and Transformative Teaching

Marissa Nesbit, Ph.D., Dance, UNC Charlotte

Traditional educational practices often ask teachers and students to ignore, suppress, and control their bodies in service of abstracted information and meanings encoded in written and verbal forms. The outdated image of an ideal learner as one who sits still and quiet, yet remains fully attentive, ignores the personal and cultural imperative to move, explore, and relate to other.

Yet teaching the whole child requires more than just accommodating a need to “wiggle it out” before settling down to the “serious” business of learning. Instead, we must see the body and mind as one integrated whole that experiments, discovers, communicates, and creates through moving, speaking, and sensing as part of a community of learners. Teachers are leaders who orchestrate experiences, foster relationships, and encourage active, full-body engagement in a dynamic learning process.

In this seminar, we will investigate the pedagogical possibilities of movement and sensation as we explore the diverse ways that we and our students can experience learning. We will alternate between theoretical readings and discussions that challenge us to expand our perceptions of knowledge to include the body, with topics that engage practical strategies Fellows might incorporate into their own classrooms. We will draw from experiences in dance and arts-based pedagogy, multimodal literacies, somatics, and active learning as we move, reflect, and create together.