Part of the Collaborative Book Review of Structuring Equality: Handbook for Student-Centered Learning. The book is available here. This post reviews Chapter 2, "Student Body: What Happens When Teachers and Students Move Together" by Michael Druffel and Kelly Lerash.
In “Student Body: What Happens when Teachers and Students Move Together,” Michael Druffel and Kelly Lerash critique traditional pedagogies that perpetuate the traditional cleaving of the mental and physical. They provide vivid examples of classroom practices and cite scholarship on how kinesthetic -- also referred to as embodied -- learning advances physical health, academic attainment, and disrupts oppressive dynamics across instructional settings.
Druffel and Lerash introduce their evidence by calling attention to the ubiquitous neglect of bodily engagement in traditional schooling, further asserting that “only teaching to the student’s eyes and ears—isn’t the only way to teach and learn, nor is it the most effective way for everyone.” This is their key thesis, and it is supported not only by the interdisciplinary work he cites, but by a range of research from the learning sciences.
When we veer away from advancing embodied learning as a non-binary pedagogy relevant to all students, we risk reifying the same dichotomies we wish to rupture. Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory was not intended to categorize people into single strengths, but rather to emphasize the fluid and multi-faceted nature of intelligence. Learning styles research goes awry if it reduces the provision of multi-sensory instruction for all. Teachers falls short of developing whole learners if they cater only to self-reported preferences at the expense of challenging comfort-zones. Education shaped by traditional White hetero-masculinity oppresses Other groups, even as it negatively impacts the bodies of those same males. As we pursue equity, we must remember that we all are embodied learners. We may have preferences and gifts in certain modalities, but we all thrive on opportunities to learn through all of our senses.