288.4 The body at school

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 1:30 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Joana LOUÇÃ , Child Studies, University of Minho / University of Warwick, Lisboa, Portugal
Manuel SARMENTO , University of Minho, Portugal
Traditionally, childhood has been understood from an adult-centered perspective (James & Prout, 1990), defining children in the negative, by what they lack (Sarmento, 2003), but this idea has been deconstructed by several authors (e.g., Corsaro, 1997; James, Jenks & Prout, 1998), who see children as complete social beings, as actors and not only as passive receivers in social construction (Mead, 1970).

However, at school, it is demanded of children (Sarmento, 2004) a homogeneous knowledge (of normal science), an ethic (of effort) and a discipline of body and mind (Foucault, 1993), which Foucault defends is an expansion of the symbolic processes of social control and the exercise of power. These disciplinary exigencies demanded by the school ignore the possibility of creation (inherent to humans), the children’s power to intervene, and the role of playing and games, the potentiality of imagination.

Children are social actors, capable of cultural creation, essentially in peer cultures, in which the game and playing are a condition for learning (Sarmento, 2004), and the imagination is inherent to the process of forming and developing the personality and rationality of each child (Sarmento, 2003).

The body at school, of the student and the teacher, has been a source for investigation. However, there is a clear lack of reflection regarding other approaches (Gaya, 2006) connecting learning and corporeity, recognising art as a form of knowledge, and movement and corporeity as potential forms for accessing and integrating information, allowing children to transform information into knowledge.

We tried to fill this gap by conducting a multidisciplinary case study, researching, with 3rd graders, how school and society construct a passive studying-body, opposed to the children’s active playing-body. Furthermore, we investigate the way movement influences learning, by proposing classes in which the curricular contents will be studied from an active perspective of the children.