Teaching with Tenderness
Toward an Embodied Practice
By Becky Thompson Ph.D.
A lesson plan for bringing higher awareness to education
Imagine a classroom that explores the twinned ideas of embodied teaching and a pedagogy of tenderness. Becky Thompson envisions such a curriculum--and a way of being--that promises to bring about a sea change in education.
Teaching with Tenderness follows in the tradition of bell hooks's Teaching to Transgress and Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, inviting us to draw upon contemplative practices (yoga, meditation, free writing, mindfulness, ritual) to keep our hearts open as we reckon with multiple injustices. Teaching with tenderness makes room for emotion, offers a witness for experiences people have buried, welcomes silence, breath and movement, and sees justice as key to our survival. It allows us to rethink our relationship to grading, office hours, desks, and faculty meetings, sees paradox as a constant companion, moves us beyond binaries; and praises self and community care.
Tenderness examines contemporary challenges to teaching about race, gender, class, nationality, sexuality, religion, and other hierarchies. It examines the ethical, emotional, political, and spiritual challenges of teaching power-laden, charged issues and the consequences of shifting power relations in the classroom and in the community. Attention to current contributions in the areas of contemplative practices, trauma theory, multiracial feminist pedagogy, and activism enable us to envision steps toward a pedagogy of liberation. The book encourages active engagement and makes room for self-reflective learning, teaching, and scholarship.
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