In this article we analyse the central role that the body plays in John MacMurray’s account of learning to be human. As with Merleau-Ponty, MacMurray rejected mind-body dualisms and argued for the need to understand what it means to be a person. Through our analysis we highlight the key principles that characterize MacMurray’s philosophy in relation to personhood and the body, namely: 1) all human knowledge and action should be for the sake of friendship and 2) human persons exist first and foremost in their bodies as ‘knowing agents’ rather than in their minds as ‘knowing subjects’. We thereafter explain MacMurray’s views on education and how it must support people to live in personal rather than functional relation with each other by attending more to bodily experience and education of the emotions. Accordingly, MacMurray considered that persons can either ‘use’ their bodily senses as mere instruments for functional purposes or they can ‘live’ in their bodily senses by learning to love (not ‘using’ but rather apprehending the real value of) other persons. In conclusion, we suggest that MacMurray’s philosophy can open up a different way of thinking about the educational value of physical activity. For MacMurray shared physical pursuits are especially educational when carried out for their own sake and when all persons’ present experience moments of bodily joy and togetherness and a better understanding of each other.
Through using school-based outdoor learning as the research context, the paper analyses the connections between bodily experiences and the embodied mind. Recent theorizing in outdoor learning, in reflecting phenomenology and Deweyian influences, has teased out how the relationships between the self, others and nature (environment) can be extended to include embodied experiences. This would, it is argued, add something extra to either the intrinsic pursuit of enjoying practical experiences or the instrumental quest for subject knowledge gains via cognitive- informed analytical cycles of action and reflection. While generally sympathetic to this critique, we consider there is a cognitive and emotional need for embodied experiences to demonstrate that they can be suitably contemplative as well. Through drawing upon Tiberius (2008) naturalist-informed theorizing, the paper reviews the part bodily experiences in outdoor learning can play in cultivating stable values and in developing reasoning practices that provide insights into how personal responsibility can be exercised in relation to how we live. Through referencing the Scottish policy context, the paper exemplifies how learning outdoors can flourish on the basis of a joint body-mind focus; where pupils review their relations with others and nature, as well as valuing times when they are absorbed in experiences which fully engage their personal interests, skills and capacities. To enhance the prospects of these learning gains occurring we provide a self-check set of questions for teachers to review to as part of appraisal of learning and teaching outdoors
Previous related research on teaching effectiveness in one senior level award - Higher Still Physical Education (HSPE) in Scotland - revealed a number of extended challenges in adopting the practical experiential teaching and learning approaches advised. However, these studies were restricted by lack of observation of teaching and learning in action and of detailed analysis of the types and timings of questions asked. The present study addressed these limitations. Data were collected through observations of teaching, questionnaire responses on the uses of discussions by pupils and teachers and semi-structured teacher interviews. Findings revealed that there were encouraging signs of a broad range of purposeful question techniques being used in practical sessions. However, there was still a lack of full teacher trust in these approaches, despite high pupil endorsement for their usage. We conclude that perceived subject content and external assessment demands continue to constrain pedagogical strategies in HSPE.