The embodied classroom - A phenomenological discussion of the body and the room

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A (Western) school is, among other things, a building with its own spatial formations and boundaries. In educational settings, the place for learning, as well as the human body in the place, is significant. In this paper, we explore the theory of the lived body as it was formulated by Maurice Merleau-Ponty and argue why we think this theory can be used fruitfully in educational research, and specifically in a study of learning places such as classrooms. We also discuss what a classroom is and can be drawing upon the work of Otto Friedrich Bollnow.

As humans, we access the world through our bodies and the knowledge we develop is always embodied. The body and the world are two aspects of a reversibility, which Merleau-Ponty terms flesh. He also stresses that the body inhabits the world, and our corporeality can therefore be tied to the room-we are affected by and affect the room in a mutual interplay.

In this paper, we develop this further and argue that teachers and students inhabit the classroom. Corporeality is therefore closely connected to spatiality and is understood as a prerequisite for being involved in relationships. We argue for the importance of exploring the notion of embodiment in educational settings with a special focus on the embodied classroom using the phenomenology of the life-world

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Journal of Pedagogy

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