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Title:The choreography of the classroom: performance and embodiment in teaching
Author(s):Andrews, Kimber Jo
Director of Research:Bresler, Liora
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bresler, Liora
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Erkert, Jan; Osborne, Margery; Stake, Robert
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Higher Education
Abstract:The body is central to all human interaction and is literally the instrument through which teachers communicate. The topic of embodiment has increasingly been addressed in the literature on Education and more broadly in the Social Sciences, however there are few accounts of what embodiment looks like in actual teaching; how it enhances communication of the curriculum, and shapes teachers’ relationships with the students. Using a multiple case study methodology, I examine the embodied teaching styles of two university professors to investigate the intrinsic complexities that arise in the practice of teaching. The literature on corporality often characterizes the body as a text to be "read" by scholars prioritizing a static approach to embodiment focused on issues of identity. Little has been offered on the physical dimension of embodiment focusing on the sensory experience of being a moving feeling human being. This study offers new perspectives on the performance of teaching through a choreographic framework that emphasizes the role of the body in performance, as well as adding new insights into the relationship between the design of a course, and how it is orchestrated in the live performance space of the classroom. Three distinctive yet interrelated themes emerged during this study: the embodied, the structural, and the relational. Each theme contributed to create the implicit curriculum of the class, and offers distinctive insights into the tacit dimension of communication that is both ubiquitous and difficult to articulate. The first set of findings relates to the ways teachers embody and communicate the curriculum, examining the common gestures, movement patterns, pacing, and energetic dynamics used to animate their lectures. To honor embodied ways of interacting and communicating, it was essential to develop a method that could analyze movement data. Skills and techniques to study movement from dance were used to explore the everyday movements of teachers and bring to the forefront the specific ways each communicated concepts with the body. Attention to the embodied highlighted the qualitative and sensory dimension of teaching. For instance, I was attuned to how each teacher reacted to the attitude and energy level of the students and adjusted their tone of voice, pace of the class, or entire lesson plan to engage students in learning. The second set of findings investigates the relationship between the structural design of a course and how teachers orchestrate the planned curriculum within the classroom. A choreographic frame broadens the scope of the study to examine the aesthetic dimensions of the classroom. For instance, how each teacher chooses to vary the pace, energy, and focus of the class to communicate concepts and ideas to the students, as well interweave multiple streams of information through their embodied communication, the content of the lectures, power point and visual illustrations, etc. In this chapter, the role of the teacher as a designer of the educational experience is explored in relation to how they make the curriculum come alive in the performative space of the classroom. The third set of findings draws explores the relational aspects of teaching and examines how each teacher conceptualized and enacted caring in the classroom. This section investigate the ever-present challenge teachers face; how to build a relationship of trust and understanding with students, while concurrently offering challenges that will encourage them to grow and flourish. This study address issues integral to teacher education including the relationship between the planned curriculum and the way it is implemented in the classroom, as well as the relational dynamic developed between teachers and students. The performing arts provide a framework for understanding artistry in teaching highlighting the convergence of the performative, the creative design and orchestration of curriculum, and the relational aspects of teaching to make vivid the rich sensory world of the tacit dimension and how it creates the ambience for learning.
Issue Date:2016-04-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Kimber Andrews
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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