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Teaching with TendernessToward an Embodied Practice$
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Becky Thompson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780252041167

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252041167.001.0001

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Inviting Bodies

Inviting Bodies

(p.27) 2 Inviting Bodies
Teaching with Tenderness

Becky Thompson

University of Illinois Press

What might a classroom look like where students are invited to bring their minds, bodies, and spirits? How might learning be enhanced with this invitation? This chapter chronicles how Thompson was first invited fully into a classroom as a graduate student by the marvelous mentoring of a professor who taught a legendary course at Brandeis University, “Birth and Death.” Maurice Stein modeled a way to keep intimacy, intensity, and intellectual depth in the classroom while teaching about the Holocaust, the threat of nuclear war, attempted genocide of Indigenous people, and child abuse by incorporating meditation, paired listening, and collaborative teaching. After graduate school, Thompson stumbled through creating syllabi and pedagogy that invited students into the classroom, realizing that liberatory teaching requires understanding what hinders embodiment—how many of us ransom off our body parts below the neck on our way to becoming academics. Finding ourselves again is key to creating intellectually rigorous classroom environments. Thompson explores how she turned students away from their questioning spirits, and what healing she needed to do to change that.

Keywords:   American Indian Movement, Holocaust Studies, antiracism, unearned privileges, multiracial organizing, emotions in the classroom, peace studies, engaged Buddhism, synchronicity of birth and death

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