Theme 4 – Mind, Body, Passion, Emotion

What do you think about hooks’ emphasis on emotion and ‘the body’ in teaching?

In the penultimate chapter, she talks about the place of Eros and love in the classroom.  What did this make you think and feel?

Please comment below…

13 thoughts on “Theme 4 – Mind, Body, Passion, Emotion”

  1. The whole notion of ‘eros’ in terms of teaching seems to be the elephant in the room, so I was really interested in what this chapter had to say about it. It reminded me of an enquiry that I was involved in when I was learning to be a Community Philosophy facilitator. The question we were discussing was ‘What does a community need to thrive?’ During the dialogue we were talking about ‘what is a community?’ and what do we mean by ‘thriving’. Then one participant started talking about love. No matter where the conversation went to, he kept returning to the word, and it made me feel uncomfortable. (I think I may even have said the classic, ‘what’s love got to do with it’ – at some point). Around the same time I started to read Nigel Cutts’ book ‘Love at Work’. After I while I really started to think about what this meant. Of course on one level I understood that this wasn’t about romantic/sexual love, but in our society we very rarely seem to focus on the other type. In all my years in the workplace, ‘love’ was never mentioned but nonetheless it was there. That was one of the things that I found so liberating about studying at a college which recognises you as an individual, as a sentient human being. (Organisations in my experience are generally sanitised places of formality, coldness, and restraint). For me then, love or ‘eros’ is about things like passion, exuberance, appreciation, connection and of course community. It comes from a place, as bell says where we are able to ‘give fully of ourselves’. We can’t separate feeling from our professional lives, just as bell suggests that we can’t separate the mind from the body. I felt love during my studies at Northern College when I was asked the question ‘how is your teaching changing the world?’ and listened to the inspirational responses of others. I think the ‘teaching for a social purpose’ model is all about love, and this chapter has really helped me to articulate why it has affected me so profoundly.

    1. “I felt love during my studies at Northern College when I was asked the question ‘how is your teaching changing the world?’ and listened to the inspirational responses of others.”

      Very nicely put. Admiration, respect, passion, compassion. Why not use a different language of love? It’s all Greek to me! I can be more comfortable with the emotional response to this through splitting off agape, philia and storge from eros.

      Why not break a rule and reference Wikipedia, which is accurate as far as it goes in this article (though it is too restricted in its references to New Testament usage).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_words_for_love

      1. I love Wikipedia as a starting point though, you’re right, I wouldn’t reference it. I’m reminded of a university-led project of a few years ago…a teacher education resource called ‘Wakeypedia’, wondering if it’s still live…

        I remember feeling slightly shocked by the title of Nigel Cutts’ book, ‘Love At Work’. In fact I’ve found it to be a practical, inspiring and beautifully produced manual on leadership and it’s made me want to reclaim ‘love’ for the classroom, whilst being explicit about boundaries and power relationships of course.

        You are right that it is helpful to disaggregate (;-)) different forms of love – I can just about define agape but storge (?) doesn’t sound like something I’d want in my classroom…

    1. I think the point bell was making about the body is that you walk into the classroom with one, and you can’t understand your body through thinking, but only through experiencing the sensations, and feeling the love. 🙂

      You won’t find me doing that, oh no.

      1. Not just love though – other stuff too. I feel values in my body, or at least, I feel uncomfortable when my values are not aligned – ie I am considering doing something that lacks integrity. I feel that in my stomach. I also feel anger and disengagement. I’m pretty sure that my brain is actually processing these thoughts into feelings, in nanoseconds, and I’m not quick enough to follow that response! But feeling is definitely part of my apparatus as a teacher and I have learned to trust these ‘teaching instincts’.

  2. I like people to like me. I prefer people to respect me. I need to be liked. I like to be needed.

    The question is how much, and how much more or less than others…

    I need the people I value to approve of me, or perhaps I want the people I respect to approve of me, or respect me back.

    I like to be treated as an individual, to be listened to, perhaps to be recognised.

    I like to think I am less needy than others – it is a conceit, but one that I am blind to.

    If something is unfair or unjust, or just plain wrong, I go into rottweiler mode… am I pleasing a figment of my imagination, an internalised superego, or am I acting according to values chosen freely and deliberately?

    When in the past I have interviewed teachers and headteachers I have always asked them what, in terms of education, they are passionate about, what they are obsessive about. If they have nothing to say to that question they don’t get a look in for the job.

    1. Gut feelings – you mean a revulsion if a teacher insists on calling people by name, but not the name the student wants to be called? On a bad day I would have made a formal complaint about that one. Muttering about the public sector equality duty and the need to actively promote equality of opportunity. Good job I was having a good day that day, even if I did take a dislike to a certain person. That was amenable to analysis, so I suppose you are right, but I wonder if the disconnection between your teaching values and the experience does process through the mind or goes straight to the gut. That revulsion you feel in the pit of your stomach when confronted with a particularly bad example of teaching or a structure which stifles learning rather than promotes it.

  3. In both of these comments, you are talking about acting on your values – acting on integrity, which is what I think happens when values are aligned. Challenge takes courage, in any context. Why would it have to be a bad day for you to invoke formal systems of complaint? Aren’t they there to provide a safe space for challenge? (Even if it doesn’t always feel like that when you’re one of the complained-about :-))

  4. Power is a strange thing, and it is exercised in unseen ways, beneath the radar so to speak. Whatever I think about the role of complaints and grievance policies, which is not a lot, as a matter of fact, my experience tells me that a complainant is far more likely to end up as victimised for having made the complaint than the recipient of a fair hearing and justice.

    The other point is that formal complaints can really spoil a person’s day, in this performativity-judged workplace environment, so I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, as they may be good all rounders having an off day.
    Given the opportunity to pursue a complaint (moral right, time, space, inclination, motive) then I will do so, but I prefer to speak to people direct to let them know rather than invoking a formal procedure. If you are single-minded, determined, and good at working your way through organisations you can really spoil someone’s day, and maybe brig about change.

    I suppose bell would have had plenty of grounds for formal complaints, and where there is a matter of principle involved, I wouldn’t hesitate to do so, if I thought it was the only way to bring about change.

  5. Isn’t it incredible, where these conversations take us? In fact, one of the most challenging, time-consuming and – if I’m honest – distressing aspects of professional life for me is that I am often complained about, formally. I feel both relieved and anxious about the opportunity to say that out loud, since it’s something that, previously, dare not speak its name, because of the fear it engenders in me. My perception (and you could of course think, “She would say that,”) is that this is a sometimes a form of ‘upward’ bullying, often with a clear outcome in mind. There is almost always a complaint or threat of complaint in the frame and over the years I’ve taken most comfort from my son who says each time, “They just want to stick it to the Man.” What I struggle with, knowing my own values, is accepting that I am, in these circumstances and to some people, ‘The Man’.

  6. I deal a lot with complaints, and those who have had complaints made against them, or who want to make a formal complaint against those in authority above them. At least you don’t have a quasi-judicial process hanging over your head every time a complaint is made, and those in authority over you can continue to exercise some sort of pastoral care of you if they choose to, unlike in my organisation. Still, it’s unpleasant enough that I hesitate to use formal grievance and complaint procedures. Was that a hint of empathy showing there? I must be slipping…

    bell’s writings probably preceded formal complaint procedures in the universities, but I wonder what she would have thought.

    Employment law is designed to allow an employer to make their own business decisions, as long as they do so fairly and consider all the circumstances. It is strongly weighted to the employer not the employee. The challenge through a grievance procedure is not whether the decision was fair or not, but whether the proper procedures were followed, and whether a reasonable person might have come to the same decision to act that way.

    Some line managers seem to think that it is their job to second guess those they manage and their decisions, and if you are / one is stuck with one of those, then God help you. Being micro-managed is a pain, and sometimes we have to remind managers of the limits of their authority.

    Where an organisation has charitable aims or has religious aims, you might expect it to act charitably towards its staff, or in a Christian [substitute any religion to indicate the values of that faith] manner. Oddly though in my experience they are some of the worst offenders because of poor knowledge of employment law.

    I m sure that bell was accused of racism on a number of occasions when failing / referring learners. I wonder how she felt about it… did they make formal complaints? Teaching with a Social Purpose does carry with it an expectation that it will understand people’s circumstances and make allowance and provision for when they can’t meet deadlines etc, but what people fail to realise is the pressure to pass people because of the performance management targets set by the college. I love Ali G’s ‘Is it coz i am black’ retort to something totally unrelated. Do learners ask ‘is it because I am working class?’ or ‘is it because I come from Chapeltown’ or ‘is it because I teach hard-skills/ soft-skills/ part-time / full-time/ 14-16s/adults/ Numeracy/ Literacy/ ICT/ ESOL?’

    We will all be complained about, and complaints follow authority – the greater the authority the greater the number of decisions made, and the greater the number of unpopular decisions and complaints… just as night follows day. But the judgement should be made on whether the action taken or decision was one that a reasonable person could have made, knowing all the circumstances… our challenge is to reserve judgement until we do know all the circumstances.

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