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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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Our Bodies in the World

Our Bodies in the World

(p.105) 6 Our Bodies in the World
Teaching with Tenderness

Becky Thompson

University of Illinois Press

What might bringing tenderness into the world look like? Student activism and willingness to explore historical memory from their own families often illuminate lived examples of tenderness. The life changing experience Thompson had as a first responder during the refugee crisis in Lesvos, Greece (2015-2016), as I met Syrian, Afghan, Palestinian, and Pakistani families coming on rafts from Turkey, taught her much about tenderness as a quality of being with each other. Refugee families modeled tenderness for her as they risked their lives to save their lives. While militarism, colonialism, racism, and patriarchy remain structural impediments to tenderness, as teachers we find ourselves seeking renewal, knowing that, as Angela Davis has written, “without deep, abiding practices of self care, there can be no radical social transformation.” So this is where we start, rethinking our relationship to our bodies, grading, office hours, faculty meetings, and methods of evaluation. We want to send students off ready to do justice work. Such work may start with examining what the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet has called the “jewel at the left side of your chest.” Our own jewels in this lifetime.

Keywords:   refugee crisis, militarism, self-care, social transformation, new consciousness, social justice, post traumatic stress growth, spiritual activism, libratory pedagogy

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