On the “Edge” of Writing: Embodiment in Writing Practice


When I think about writing in my classroom, I often imagine the figure illustrated above: a head for “thinking” and arms for “writing.” But writing is a physical act; our bodies make writing possible. Our bodies are sources of knowledge, containers of collected memory. Our bodies think. Our bodies feel. So why does the body feel noticeably absent when we “think” about writing?

This is something I’ve been wondering about a lot lately. I come to these questions not only as someone who teaches First Year Writing, but also as a theater-maker (with an interest in the body, training, and performance), a student exploring the Feldenkrais Method (an “approach to human movement, learning and change”), and as a recreational runner (The Feldenkrais Institute). All of these practices rely on, develop, or question the use of the body in action. So I wonder, by extrapolation, if writing can’t be part of this conversation, too. Can we borrow from the performance and athletic fields and incorporate embodied knowledge into our teaching and writing practices? Is it possible that we could become more dynamic, deliberate and effective writers and teachers if we learned how to utilize our senses and sensations, if we allowed writing to be an embodied experience? My purpose is to put forward the questions in the hopes that we can start a conversation together, and begin to explore the “spaces in between” thinking, sensing, and writing. Continue reading

Combating Student Apathy workshop

For those of you who couldn’t make it to yesterday’s workshop on Combating Student Apathy, here’s a copy of the handout that Erica Dolson and I put together for it.

We had a great discussion, with the attendees coming up with a number of excellent suggestions, ideas and activities that I am planning to try out, so I hope some of them will share in the comments below.

Combating Student Apathy
There is, of course, no one way to combat student apathy, because there is no single type of apathetic student or individual situation where one deals with it. These strategies, tactics and approaches are only some ways in which one can attempt to prevent its appearance or deal with it when it manifests.

Pre-emptive moves: Continue reading

Question of the day: How do you engage your class?

To kick off the coming week, here’s another question (or set of questions) from Michael Laser:

“What activities have you done with your students that yielded the most interest, the most engagement? How do you get them talking, and even enjoying the class? Are there activities that you can share that have accomplished all this? If so, please reply with a description!”

Please weigh in below…