"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.

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JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing is an interdisciplinary journal of curriculum studies. It offers an academic forum for scholarly discussions of curriculum. Historically aligned with the "reconceptualist" movement in curriculum theorizing and oriented toward informing and affecting classroom practice, JCT presents compelling pieces within forms that challenge disciplinary, genre, and textual boundaries.

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