Wed learn in a different way. Instead of listening, we did things Body and movement in primary school education

by Joana Campos Lou

Institution: Universidade do Minho
Year: 2017
Keywords: Childhood Studies; Movement; Learning; Arts; City; Body; School; Community; Estudos da Criana; Movimento; Aprendizagem; Artes,; Cidade; Corpo; Escola; Comunidade
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2222105
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1822/48682


The main goals of this thesis were to study children participation in schools, through their bodilyexpression and free movement, subverting the discipline of the traditional school inducing passivity.From references mainly sustained by Childhood Studies, with incursions through the sciences thatdeal with the childrens bodies and its relations with school and learning, this research was a casestudy using mainly qualitative data, such as participant observation, visual methods and interviews.It was done over three years following a project of learning through movement called THE BODY ATSCHOOL, applied by an artistic association (c.e.m) at a primary school in Mouraria, Lisbon. Theresults showed that the children learnt curricular, pedagogic, artistic and social contents through theproject. The positive feelings the children associated with the projects sessions helped themremember what they had learnt, enhanced episodic learning and memory in what, we argue, wasthe creation of positive somatic markers. The network of care and affection created through theproject between the children and the adults, inside and outside the school and the fact that thesessions were based on open-ended exercises increased the childrens confidence and pleasure inlearning, which was particularly important for the children with learning or language difficulties.Children participation at school through the project was especially developed when they taught aclass to a group of adults, when they made a book and in their participation in the projects sessionsoutside the school, in the ruins of an abandoned building in Mouraria. These collaborativelyemergent sessions developed in a shared decision-making process that also included the childrensfamilies, former students from the school, the teachers and some inhabitants of Mouraria. The workwith the neighbourhood managed to combine the childrens emplaced knowledge with spatialknowledge and the childrens collective actions with the adults transformed ruins that were notoriginally designed for children, into a childrens space.The use of the arts and the fact that the sessions developed in a sequence of expansivecycles (defined by activity theory) permitted the children to manage their own bodies and, inparticular, we described how one child achieved a moment of epiphany (or priming event) thattransformed her relationship with the others. A moment that, we argue, would not have happenedin a regular class and, in that sense, the project created an approximation to an ideal speechsituation. We exemplified a moment where the project allowed for the translation of childrensnotions of their incarnated bodies into the adults idea of a somatic body. Through thesesessions, the childrens body as project was potentiated and the childrens formal, informal andnon-formal knowledge was included and valued, and we argue that helped the children learn.The ethical symmetry between adults and children, developed by theAdvisors/Committee Members: Sarmento, Manuel Jacinto (advisor), Prout, Alan (advisor).