Creative and Embodied Learning as Critical Pedagogy

Year: 2016

Author: Garrett, Robyne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In neoliberal times, accountability measures and high-stakes testing further contribute to differentiated outcomes for young people. The way that knowledge is conceptualised in tests regularly fails to recognize the embodied knowledge and abilities of many young people. Significantly, testing restricts pedagogic possibilities. Teachers revert to traditional and didactic approaches that are tightly controlled and teacher-directed. Children become passive receivers of knowledge, and are mostly required to keep still. Those from disadvantaged backgrounds who historically have both ‘rejected and been rejected by education’ overwhelmingly continue to be least successful (Munns 2007; Yates, 2013). In confronting these traditions, focus is drawn to research that explicitly advocates the use of the body (Horn & Wilburn, 2005) as well as dialogic practices in learning (Cawthon, Dawson et al., 2011) as contributing factors in transforming pedagogy for those working with disadvantaged populations. These pedagogies, signal an epistemological and pedagogical shift toward appreciating bodies as agents of knowledge production and creativity as cultural capital. They construct new roles for the teacher including that of improviser and new relationships with students that recognise their abilities and offer sensitivities to the characteristics of particular situations.This paper reports on research that investigates primary school teachers and teaching artists using creative and body-based pedagogies, with a focus on enhancing student engagement, and mathematics outcomes. The paper first addresses educational concerns in the local sector. We turn then to the possibilities offered by embodied and creative pedagogies before describing the research project as well outcomes in terms of affective, cognitive and operative engagement (Munns and Sawyer 2013). In conclusion, we argue the value of creative and body-based learning and offer suggestions for teacher education as well as broader professional learning programs that can transform pedagogy toward ‘exquisite sensitivity’. References Cawthon, S., Dawson, K., & Ihorn, S. (2011). Activating student engagement through drama-based instruction. Journal for Learning Through the Arts, 7(1), 1-27.Horn, J., & Wilburn, D. (2005). The embodiment of learning. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 37(5), 745-760.Munns, G. 2007. A Sense of Wonder: Pedagogies to Engage Students How Live in Poverty. International Journal of Inclusive Education 11 (3): 301–15.Munns, G. & Sawyer, S. W. (2013). Student engagement: the research methodology and the theory. In G. Munns, W. Sawyer and B. Cole (Eds.), Exemplary Teachers of Students in Poverty (pp.14-32). New York: Routledge.Yates, Lyn. 2013. Revisiting Curriculum, the Numbers Game and the Inequality Problem. Journal of Curriculum Studies 45 (1): 39–51.