"Hands at Your Sides!" The Severing of Body and Mind in the Elementary School


  • Sheri L. Leafgren


Here is a challenge to the "rage for order" in elementary schools and classrooms as a Cartesian mind/body duality is translated in school-actions designed to control the child's body and separate it from the day-to-day school life.  While the urgent ordering might be well-intentioned"”to focus on academics, to keep property and people safe"”it overlooks a fundamental element of human teaching and learning: that contact is vital to body, mind and spirit. While the practices seeking to sever mind from body involve all of the senses, it is the sense of touch that is most impacted by schooling's obsession to coerce, bribe, and threaten children to "keep hands, feet, and other objects to your self."  And because ultimately, the severance of body separates "I and thou""”it is the spirit that suffers.

Author Biography

Sheri L. Leafgren

Sheri Leafgren is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Miami University. Her research interests include those related to children’s classrooms disobediences which derive from her experiences as a teacher of young children in a large urban district—and she thanks those former students for everything they taught her.







Cultural Studies and Curriculum