Schooling the Flesh: The Body, Pedagogy, and Inequality- public lecture by Antonia Darder

Schooling the Flesh: The Body, Pedagogy, and Inequality- public lecture by Antonia Darder

September 1, 2019 1 By Ronny Jaskolski


– All right, I’m really happy to be here. Thank you Henry for the
very cool introduction. Thank you Henry. I always have to start
when Henry’s in the room to just always acknowledge him, because I think we come from such ahistorical culture where we forget that our intellectual
formation is part of a lineage. And the lineage that I
come from absolutely, Henry has been absolutely central to my political formation and
my intellectual formation. And so with that, Henry thank you, thank you for everything that you do and everything that you’ve done, and the ways that you’ve
supported my work. And if it wasn’t for you, the truth be, I wouldn’t of never had a first book, and maybe never would’ve
had anything published. Which what I want to say to that is that the issue of
solidarity is important in this work because it is such a hard, hard labor, and that often we forget how important it is that, that we make those kind of connections. So and we make those connections as embodied practice. So I’m very happy to be here today. Thank you Jenny for just incredible coordination of all of this. All right so I’m going to begin with, with several quotes that I think begin to kind of set the tone. The first one is by Merleau Ponty who stated that the body is a medium for having a world, and Michel Foucault who said that the body is also directly involved in a political field. Power relations have an
immediate hold upon it, they invest it, mark it,
train it, torture it, force it to carry out tasks, to perform ceremonies, to emit signs. And of course our
beloved Paulo Freire said I know with my entire body, with feelings, with passion and also with reason. It is my entire body that socially knows I cannot in the name
of exactness and rigor negate my body, my
emotions, and my feelings. In pedagogy and the politics
of body Cheryl Shapiro, as other feminists theorists before her contends that any approach
committed to human liberation must seriously address the body as a site for both oppression and liberation. Yet seldom is the significance of the body made central to discussion
of emancipatory pedagogy. As such education efforts to reinvent the social and material
conditions within classrooms are often devoid of close consideration to the significance of the flesh in mediating conditions
of teaching and learning. That is unless the discussion turns to classroom management, a convenient euphemism for both the covert and overt regulation and
control of student corporality. Meanwhile the classroom exists as an arena where abstract knowledge
and its constructions are objectified, along with the students, who are expected to acquiesce
to its alienating function, limiting rationality, and
technocratic instrumentalisation. Hence the production of knowledge is neither engaged not presented as a historical and collective process occurring in the flesh, and
all its central capacities for experiencing and
responding to the world. Instead, as Christopher Becky
argues in Wicked Bodies, the flesh, the material
aspect of the body, is seen as a hinderance which must be overcome negated and transcended, as if it were not involved
in the act of knowing at all. But we as teachers, as
folks who spend lots of time with students in classrooms,
know that teaching and learning can invoke a multitude of sensations and responses,
including excitement, pain, joy, anger, pride, and frustration. With this clearly in mind,
Freire often referred to these very human responses when he considered the
process of studying. He said, studying is
a demanding occupation in the process of which
we will encounter pain, pleasure, victory, defeat,
doubt, and happiness, all physical sensations of the body. the notion of students as embodied and integral human beings has received limited attention in discussions of classroom practice
within the United States. An integral engagement with different faculties of our humanity. Missing even in multicultural discussions of pedagogy are more
complex understandings of our humanity and the significance of a body to intellectual formation. Generally such discussions have been left to those educators whose tendency has been to overemphasize the role of subjectivity or fallen to
over-psychologizing of the self. So no matter how well meaning they may be, this view often fails to
address the material conditions and issues of power and
privilege that are at work in the lives of historically
disenfranchised students. The historical absence of the body has been so because bring the body into critical discussion is considered potentially disruptive and subversive. To the social school, order of schooling. Grounded in such a world view, many educators assume that teaching and learning are solely cognitive acts. And as such teachers need
not concern themselves with the physical nature
of their students, unless one is deemed as inappropriate at which time officials or psychologists or policemen are summoned to evaluate and hopefully fix the
problem with the student. To support students of becoming
full subjects of history then Freire urged teachers to grapple with the fact that students
construct knowledge through the multitude of
collective interactions of the body with the world. Amanda Sinclair reminds us the immediate impact of a person’s body on another is profound. A great deal happens before a person even opens their mouth,
emotions are aroused, judgments are made, comfort
or discomfort levels are established well in advance
of verbal communication. We unconsciously or consciously register and make judgments
about stature, about voice. Bodies elicit feelings of
excitement and admiration, attraction and desire, envy and distaste. The material conditions
and history’s the students are made visible on the body. Their history of survival
are often witnessed in their skin, their teeth, their hair, their gestures, their
speech, and the movement of their arms and legs,
in a myriad of ways bodies are maps of power and identity. If this is so then teachers must work to engage students’ physical realities more substantively in an effort to forge an emancipatory practice of education. It’s not enough to rely on
abstract learning processes where only the analysis of words and text are privilege in the
construction of knowledge. Such an educational process
is one of estrangement, it functions to alienate
students from the natural world around them, from themselves
and from one another. Hence teachers and students
must labor in the flesh, that is to say teaching and
learning must be anchored in the material understanding
of our human existence as a starting place for classroom practice and our struggle to reinvent the world. Freire again argues that this is vital to a critical pedagogy
in that we learn things about the world by acting and changing the world around us. It is through the process of change, of transforming the material world from which we emerge where creation of the cultural and historical world takes place. This transformation of the world is done by us while it
makes and remakes us. However there’s nothing
automatic about social change. Nor is it a process that can solely rely on calculating logic or cold rationality. When the body sanctioned forces overwhelmingly shape our experiences and responses to social structures. So too struggles in the
name of social justice must whole step the fullness
of our human existence. In our efforts then to
understand the process of teaching and learning
there has to be acknowledged that it exists as human
labor, and it takes place within our bodies and the
totality of our being, as we strive to make sense
of the material conditions and social relations of power that shape our particular histories. In teaching to transgress
Balhooks speaks to this issue. I have always been acutely aware of the presence of my
body in those settings that in fact invite us to invest so deeply in a mind body split, so that in essense you’re almost always at odds with the existing
structure, whether you are a black woman student or a professor. But if you want to remain,
you’ve got in a sense to remember yourself
because to remember yourself is to see yourself always
as a body in a system that has not become accustomed to your presence or to your physicality. Through such an understanding teaching can begin to build
practices of education where students are not being asked to confront themselves and
each other as strangers, but rather as fully embodied human beings from the moment that
they enter the classroom. This is to say that a
critical practice of the body must seek to contend in the flesh with the embodied histories
of the disenfranchised, as well as the social and material forces that shape the conditions
in which we teach and learn. Freire again speaks to
the undeniable centrality of the body in the act of knowing. The importance of the
body is indisputable. The body moves, it acts, it rememorizes the struggle for liberation,
the body in some desires points out, renounces,
protests, curves itself, rises, designs, and remakes the world, and its importance has to
do with a certain sensualism contained by the body even in connection with cognitive ability. It affords to separate,
that it affords to separate the rigorous act of knowing the world from the body’s passionate
ability to know. I’m a little thrown off because the slides are a little turned, thrown off, so I’m trying to wonder
what the heck has happened. But anyway, I’ll continue. We’ll figure it out Jenny, together. But it is precisely the
centralism that Freire was talking about with its
revolutionary potential. We don’t, you know sometimes
we don’t stop to think that the revolutionary
process is essential process. It’s a process that requires
all of our presence. With its revolutionary potential then to nurture self-determination, the empowerment of students as both individuals and social beings, which is systematically stripped away from the educational
process of public schools. Most teachers already well versed in maintaining this grey
world of unsexy knowing are well placed to take up the challenge of policing expressions
of passion, excitement, and physicality within the classroom, particularly when teaching with youth. Conservative ideologies of social control historically linked to Puritanical, and now we’re on the right side, Puritanical views of the body as evil, central pleasures as sinful, and passions as corrupting to the
sanctity of the spirit continue to be reflected
in the narrow ruled based pedagogical policies and
practices of schooling today. The sensuality of the body
is discouraged in schools through the prominent
practice of immobilizing students’ bodies within
hard chairs and desks that contain and restrict their contact with each other and the
environment around them. Vivian Leroy contends that the body is not usually granted a lot of space in our education system. It is nothing more than what allows us to remain seated for hours and to move from one classroom to another and to meet the requirements. 90 percent of the time spent in school is typically in a state of immobility. Learning is reduced to
an airborne exchange of knowledge between different minds. The knowledge of the teacher’s mind is transmitted to the learners defined as mind able to
receive new knowledge or not. Leroy further argues that this tradition of fettered bodies is anchored in three paradigmatic figures, Socrates, Christianity, and Pavlov’s dog. In the classic tradition the sensual body is quickly subordinated to the mind where ideas are privileged
over the senses. In Christianity, the
separation between the body and the soul constitutes an
essential pedagogical concern. In the Pavlovian model,
the body is transformed into an instrumentalized
object to be manipulated and controlled through external stimuli in the process of learning. Every time I read this
I remember when my kids were young, and it was during the time when in Elementary
school what they would do with the kids is they would give them M&Ms if they answered the questions right. It was kind of behaviorist
approach in education. And of course then they
would use the stars, you get a star if you. And I mean essentially that’s
what grades are all about. We don’t quite make that connection but in fact that’s what’s going on. Such a view of teaching and learning ultimately lead to pedagogical practices that do emotional and
psychological violence to the orature of the
body and the annihilation of the flesh in the traditional
rubric of the classroom. Accordingly inequalities are reproduced through class, rationalized, gendered, and heterosexist
perceptions and distortions of male and female bodies. Perceptions and distortions embodied within the pedagogy of even the most well meaning teachers. Consequently students from communities where the sense is in the body and its spontaneities
are given greater primacy in the act of knowing and being, they are often coerced into
sacrificing the knowledge of their body’s sensuality,
their creativity and vitality, in favor of an atomized analytical and instrumental logic of being. In light of this, we as
teachers need to reflect on what bodies we give permission to in our classrooms and the extent to which we let those bodies speak. Such reflections may be,
for example they’re key to explaining the overwhelming tendency of teachers and school officials to label and African
American and Chicano boys for example as hyperactive
or suffering from attention deficit disorder. Similarly Susan O’Brien argues, and that slide really around
the issue of disconnection, and what we find is
that in fact the longer that the students are in school, you begin to see the
increasing disconnection and the lack of affiliation they feel with schools themselves. Similarly Susan O’Brien argues that the corporal,
physical, and sexual realms are unwelcome intrusions
into the every day world of the classroom. The systematic disembodiment of students within the process of
learning begins early in their academic formation. Despite child development theories that assert that human
beings are sexual beings even before birth, sexuality
as an ever present phenomena systematically repressed and denied within the four walls of the classroom. This is the case even in puberty when adolescent bodies
are particularly sensitive to heightened and confusing sensations. Seldom do teachers, many who are not particularly comfortable
with their own sexuality, critically engage questions of sexuality beyond the often repeated
cliche of raging hormones to connote teenage sexuality. Meanwhile students are not
only pedagogically abandoned but are left to the mercy of the media and corporate pirates
that very deliberately and systematically prey upon the field of powerful bodily sensations, emotions, and stirrings of youth. Henry Jarue argues that in the slick world of advertising, teenage
bodies are sought after for the exchange value they generate in marketing and adolescence sexuality that offers a marginal exoticism and ample pleasures for
the largely male consumer. Commodification reaffirms and fixates the complexity of youth, and the range of possible identities they might assume while simultaneously exploiting them as fodder for the logic
of the market place. Frightened by their own ambivalence and the physicality of student bodies, educational policy makers
institute practices that coerce teachers into silence, rigidly limiting discussion
of one of the most significant aspects of humanity. And despite the difficulties and hardships that such silence portends
for many students, isolation and increasing
rates of suicide for example among LGBT students,
schools much like churches, act as moral leaders,
policing and repressing the body’s participation. The minimalist approach of US schools in the area of human
sexuality can be contrasted with other parts of the
world where straightforward facts about the birds
and bees are considered a pedagogical imperative. In Sweden for example,
compulsory sex education has been in place since
1956, given that recognition of sex as a natural human act, and the frank acknowledgement that most people become sexually active before they’re 20 years old. Toward this end students learn at the early age about their sexuality, reinforcing a more open and positive view of sex and the body. Curriculum begins at age six with anatomy, and from twelve on topics are more geared towards developing
tools for responsibility in their sexual lives, in the sense of ownership of their bodies. The outcome is that
Sweden’s rate of pregnancy and sexual transmitted, of teen pregnancy and sexual transmitted diseases, is among the lowest in the world. So what we see in Sweden
is absolutely the opposite of the myth that if you
talk about sexuality with youth, that somehow you know, they’re just going to,
they’re going to get pregnant and all this kind of stuff. I mean it’s just, it’s just
absolutely the opposite the way the myths work
in our societies, right. The issue of teen
pregnancy also illustrates how schooling practices and policies associated to the body are inextricably tied to gendered ideologies
of power and control. Sinclair reminds us that
schools like institutions are only able to assimilate
women’s bodies so long as they conform to a neutral
or a desexualized form. Young teen mothers violate this norm by drawing attention to their femaleness, their sexuality, and their
difference from the male norm. Hence teen pregnancy is addressed by exiling these young
women from the school campus to an alternate location,
often silenced and unseen, while the young fathers are left virtually untouched by the same system. And I want to tell you as a teenage mom, I was 16 years old when I, with my son. And I was not allowed to
stay in the High School. The consequence was, not only was I exiled from my school community,
I ended up in this little, tiny community where the truth, my education, my
opportunities for education then also plummeted even further. Missing even in the
University is the willingness to contend with the sexuality of students in the process of their
academic formation, despite the fact that intense desires are often played out in
the University classroom. In keeping the mind, body, spirit, pardon me, keeping the mind body split, educators readily ignore the manner in which learning works, at a visceral and a sensual level. Consequently the severing
of the body’s desires and sensations for the
construction of knowledge interferes dramatically with students’ capacity for self knowledge. Similarly such practices also thwart our knowledge of the other, rendering us alienated and estranged
to any human suffering that exists outside of the particular and limited scope of our own identities, whether linked to gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or skin color. In fact, Spender argues that the absence of pedagogical engagement with the body can inhibit the development
of empathy and respect for those who are deemed as others. And I mean I have colleagues who are doing this work around compassion, and they, as they talk to teachers what they find is that
often teachers think that they’re expressing the
same level of compassion to all their students, but
in fact what they’re finding in their research is that white teachers express far more compassion
towards white children than they do to children of color. The interesting thing is that
in terms of teachers of color, they did not find that same correlation. And it may be because people
are positioned differently and our survival, you know,
the issues with respect to our own survival create a different way to responding to different social context. Students outside are
objectified, alienated, and domesticated into passive roles. And of course this, we
know that if we think of the classroom as a
place where the possibility for democracy exists, and
the issue of citizenship is central, the question always becomes what kind of citizenship? In what ways are we preparing
students for citizenship? Is it an active citizenship
with criticality or is it one that in fact teaches them to be domesticated and passive? Schools discourage us all
from thinking about the body. This now only interferes,
this not only interferes with their achievement, but also sabotages their social agency. This is particularly visible when existing emotional, physical needs of students are ignored in an overriding effort to obtain their obedience
and their conformity. Yet in spite of major
institutional efforts to control the body’s desire,
pleasures, and mobility within schools and
classrooms, students seldom surrender their bodies
completely or readily to authoritarian practices. Practices which in themselves provide the impetus for resistance. Instead many students
engage in the construction of their own cultural forms of resistance which may or may not always
function in their best interest. More often than not expressions
of student resistance are enacted through counter culture, alterations to the body, be
they clothing, hairstyle, posturing, manner of
walking, way of speaking, piercing, tattooing of the body. These represent not
only acts of resistance, but alternative ways of experiencing and knowing the world. Generally perceived by officials as both transgressive and disruptive to the social order. Such views of students are exacerbated by what Jeruid contends is a new form of representational
politics that has emerged in media culture, fueled by
degrading and visual depictions of youth as criminal, sexual, decadent, drug crazed, and illiterate. In short, youth are
viewed as a growing threat to the public order. Teachers whose bodies
are similarly restricted, alienated, and domesticated
in their workplace are under enormous pressure to follow strict policies and procedures
for classroom conduct, while expected to dispense
prepackaged carricula instead of employing more creative and critical approaches grounded in the actual needs of their students. Given the impact of disembodied practices, teachers generally
experience an uphill battle in meeting standardized mandates which systematically
extricates students’ bodies from the equation of their own learning. Nowhere is this more apparent than in low income
schools across the nation where teaching to the test has become the carricula of choice, even at many colleges and universities. Along with teaching to the tests, we have the notion, you
know notions of gender and sexuality and race,
are deeply sedimented into the body and highly
resistant to change within that context. This constitutes knowledge
that is habitual, unexamined. Its outcome includes
repressive educational policies and practice that marginalizes the knowledge and languages
of oppressed populations and infantilizes– It’s hard see, when you
have a second language, it doesn’t matter how long, it’s still difficult
at times to pronounce. It infantilizes adult
students, it criminalizes youth of color, it can you know, it considers suspicious
ideas or uses of the body perceived as existing somehow outside of that narrow, mainstream
view of normalcy. Even when teachers struggle
within the classroom to implement more liberating strategies, they’re often forced to
become masters of deception, saying what the principal
or district office wants to hear right, while
doing behind closed doors what they believe is more democratic. Unfortunately having to shoulder the hidden physical
stress of such duplicity can drive some of the
most effective teachers away from the field irrespective of their political commitment. And we see this time and time again with, I don’t know what it’s like
in Canada, but in the US the high attrition rate of
teachers is, it’s incredible. You know, right now all these studies that show many teachers don’t
get past the first five years. What cannot be overlooked
here is the manner in which authoritarian
practices are designed to not only blindfold students and lead them to a domesticated future, but also to alienate and estrange teachers from their labor. Concerned with the need to restore greater freedom, joy,
creativity in their classrooms, Freire urged teachers to critically reject their domesticated role
and work to challenge the authoritarianism of standard policies and practices of pedagogy, curriculum, and school administration. Thus he argued this required
an open process of dialogue. For in classrooms with the doors closed, it is difficult to have
the world unveiled. And often teachers will say, well you know I just close my door. But even that, closing the door, and trying to do what
we can in the classroom is not enough. We have to move across
and we have to move out of our classrooms and
deal with larger issues that are having an impact on what happens in our schools. A critical practice of the body is also salient to rethinking
University education where there seems to be
little pedagogical tolerance for the emotional needs of adult learners. Somewhere in the intellectual
history of the west there developed the wrong hidden idea that the mind and heart are antagonist. That scholarship must
be divested of emotions, that spiritual journeys must somehow be avoided in terms of
intellectual concerns. This tradition sets an expectation that professors and
students compartmentalize themselves within the classroom without any serious concern for the manner in which the very essence
of University education is often tied to major
moments of life transition. Students are asked to make
major intellectual commitments and material investments
related to the direction of their very uncertain futures. Simultaneously students are expected to engage their studies and their research as objective impartial of service even when the object of their study is intimately lien to
conditions of human suffering. Friedi further argues that the traditional academic expectation of the University reinforces pedagogical myths. Such as that feelings corrupt,
research and its findings that intuition should be
feared, that emotion and passion should be negated, and that science and technology should rule. These myths end in convincing many that the more neutral
we are in our actions, the more objective and efficient
we will be in our knowing. Hence students are slowly but surely socialized to labor as
uncritical, descriptive, neutral scholars,
dispassionate and disembodied in their intellectual
constructions of the world. Critical principles that then support a pedagogy of the body oblige educators to be cognizant of the
largest social, political, and economic conditions
that shape their lives and the lives of students. In summary, these overlapping
critical principles that I just want to put out
very quickly are as follows. First, that the emotional
and physical responses and experiences of
students within the process of teaching and learning are engaged and must be engaged as
meaningful indicators of strengths and challenges
that students face in their intellectual formation and the development of
their social consciousness. That knowledge is understood as historical and collective process
emanating from the body’s relationship to the world. The body is then primary in
the construction of knowledge and development of moral thought, or as Connol reminds us,
in the reality of practice the body is never outside of history. The body and its cognitive capacities are understood as only one medium for the construction of knowledge, hence students are seen
as intricate human beings whose minds, body, hearts, and spirits are implicated in the process of their intellectual formation. Knowing is derived from the
body’s collective interaction with the world, it constitutes
a significant dimension of a critical education practice. Classroom and community relationships, materials, activities must
reflect this knowledge through an ongoing process
of cultural integration. Spaces are created within classrooms and communities for students to contribute to the aesthetics of the
physical surroundings, including the social
and material conditions of their knowledge construction,
peer relationships, exercise of their voice,
and ways of participation. There’s a tendency to not think about the ways that we construct classrooms so that students never feel
any sense of ownership. So they feel no sense of ownership even in what they’re learning and what they’re engaging. Teachers create meaningful interactions and activities within
classrooms and communities that must support students
in grappling honesty with attentions of difference
and their consequences. And these are differences that
are enacted through the body. The knowledge that teacher
have of their own body including their sexuality is an important aspect of their ability
to interact effectively and to competently educate diverse student populations. Acts of resistance tied to the body can signal meaningful
alternative ways of knowing and relating to the world. Conditions are created for students to reflect, affirm, and challenge the meaning of their acts of
resistance in their lives. In ways that they become radicalized, and this notion of radicalized, Freire would engage this
question of radicalization as an important aspect
of becoming political in the world, to understand
that issues of power were constantly at work in our lives. Spaces are created within classrooms and communities for
students to contribute, I think I read, I think
I’m done with these. So these principles
signal a critical practice of body that’s linked to the process of decolonizing the mind, and the heart from educational and social constraints that repressed the development of voice, that disrupt democratic participation, and thwart the self-determination
of oppressed populations. This entails rewriting the body into our understanding of pedagogy through calling forth the establishment of new social, political,
and economic conditions, which also require an embodied emancipatory political vision. So teaching is not just about
what happens in the classroom, in fact teaching and our work
in schools and universities has to be linked to a political project. So forging an emancipatory vision of schooling calls us
all back to our bodies. In a world where all
aspects of our daily life, birth, death, marriage,
family, school, work, leisure, parenthood, spirituality,
and even entertainment are more monitored and controlled. And that’s the world that we live in, all aspects of our life are
monitored and controlled and to a certain extent surveilled. The historical colonization of our bodies has left many of us numb and
alienated and fragmented, defenseless at the mercy of capitalism. The consequence, as
Richard Brojo reminds us has a deep sense of personal
and collective dissatisfaction generated by a marketplace
that cannot satisfy human needs of the body. Needs that can only be met
through the relationships that break the alienation and isolation so prevalent in our lives today. Through integrating
principles that sustain a critical practice of the body, teachers can begin to create a space in which emotional intimacy can thrive, nourishing more
effectively academic growth and human connection among our students. This sense of intimacy
is an important one, because often there isn’t
a lot of conversation about the importance of intimacy in our relationships with students. And what I mean by that is
that students feel connected so there’s a sense that when we’re trying, we’re involved in the act of teaching, that it’s an act that is a relational act, and that in the process we
both need to be involved, we both need to be invested. And often we don’t invest unless we feel some sense of connection,
trust, and intimacy in the process. Terry Eagleton urges us to
recognize that the origin of emancipatory possibility
and human solidarity resides squarely in the body. For it is through the
collective interactions of integral bodies within the classroom that the possibility of
moral thought can be awaken. This constitutes a very important aspect of our pedagogy since it is moral thought that places are collective
bodies back into history and into the political discourse. More over it’s the absence
of a truly democratic moral language and practice of the body that stifles our capacity
for social struggle today. For example, many students
across the country bemoan, many teachers and educators
bemoan justifiably so that the conditions that have been created by the privatization of education and accountability regimes
of high stakes testing and standardized knowledge which negative have
impact, not only education of students, but also teachers labors. I mean they bemoan but essentially what we’re dealing with is
that besides their frustrations educators struggle to communicate any kind of a clear, coherent,
emancipatory moral message to challenge the shallow economist moralism of neoliberalism. So teachers are complaining
about the testing, they know that– Nine out of ten teachers I talk about, with respect that I’ve talked to with respect to testing,
they will absolutely say that they see the problems with testing. Some will say, you know
it’s one of those evils you have to put up with. Others say that it absolutely ruins their capacity to teach in the classroom, and yet we’ve not been able to create an education movement that
engages these questions related to neoliberalism and its impact on the lives of our
students and in the lives of teachers themselves
with respect to our labor. Some would argue that the lack of such a coherent political project is a direct result of teachers alienated complicity with the status quo and the contradictions inherent in their lack of politics within a highly charged political arena. So rather than exercising a language of economic efficiency and
neoliberal accountability, life within schools and
society requires a development of a moral, political
language that can safeguard the dignity and integrity
of all human differences intrinsic to a pluralistic nation. More over genuine democracy
requires the body’s interaction with a social and material
world in ways that nurture meaningful and
transformative participation. It must exist as a practice
in which human beings can interact individually and collectively as empowered subjects of their own lives, and makers of their own destinies. Throughout his life
Paulo Freire emphasized the significance of love,
as well as the importance of ethics in education. He embraced love as an emancipatory and revolutionary principle compelling us to become part of a new
decolonizing culture that nurtures human condition,
intimacy, trust, and honesty from the body out into the world. In the same vein Shapiro writes with love we affirm and are affirmed in
the sociopolitical struggle against death from hunger,
disease, exploitation, war, destruction of the earth,
and against hopelessness, there is great and growing need for our capacity to become
body full with love. For Eagleton love means
to comprehend the moral and the material as inseparably linked. This constitutes as an
essential ingredient of a just society and
the political principle that motivates our
struggle for social justice and human rights. This is a love grounded in the mutuality and interdependence of our humanity. Also inheriting such a
love is an understanding that we as educators are never at liberty to be violent or authoritarian. Freire repeatedly argued that ethics is a significant place of departure for both our private and our public lives. It constitutes a political question which in the final analysis
is a moral question. For without morality our
politics and pedagogy can become an instrument of oppression. But this view of morality should not be confused with moralism. Instead it entails exploring deeply the quality of our sensations,
ideas, and practices, a process that teachers,
students cannot surely accomplish by obstructing life from
our social surroundings, our political surroundings,
from our cultures, or from our historical,
or histories of survival. This requires that educators struggle then to bring together in our
classrooms the moral and political, the particular and the
universal, acknowledging that nothing can survive in isolation. Hence it is through collective struggles waged in our bodies that
consciousness is born. Through our actions with
students and colleagues and comrades, we come together. Not only for the shifting
of consciousness, but for the transformation
of material conditions. This requires our participation
in the actual settings in which we live and work. To not act in the
immediacy of our workplace and lived environment
can place us in danger of living out a false consciousness that loses touch with a
grief or empathetic feelings that oppression stirs in the human soul. The poet Muriel Rukeyser wrote a true consciousness is
a confession to ourselves of our feelings, a false
consciousness disowns them. Ultimately it is this
disowning that leads us to the corruption of
the mind and the body. Such disowning is the
outcome of an over abundance of undermining representations and images in schools and society and the media that repeatedly tell poor working class and
racialized populations that our lives are worthless. Beckoning us a million ways
to abandon ourselves daily to the logic of capitalism. In these times great
moral courage is required to voice our dissent
against educational policies and practices that betray students from oppressed communities, rendering us disposable and expendable. To transform debilitating conditions within classrooms and societies we need a revolutionary pedagogy solidly committed to the unfettering of the
body through embracing the liberation of our
humanity as central thinking, knowing, and feeling subjects of history. This entails rewriting the
body into our understanding of pedagogy through calling
forth the establishment of new social, political,
and economic conditions. Conditions that reap new
possibilities for public schooling. Classroom conditions that begin
with a primacy of the body carry possibilities, radical
possibilities, for recoonecting students more deeply to their development as fully integral human beings. More importantly, since the
body is the material foundation of our yearning for human liberation, it is only in our bodies
that we can ultimately enact a revolutionary love and
change the course of history. Thank you.