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Throughout several decades the educational research community has emphasized experiential, embodied learning with attention on the learner. However, after the Bologna/Berlin processes, politicians expect educational institutions to formulate learning outcomes, focusing on the imagined result, the specific curriculum goals, not the way there. In this text I reflect upon embodied making and learning, and why it must be included in the educational institutions to make education sustainable. The reflection begins with a discussion of practice as a condition for human existence, based in Heidegger’s term dasein. As all our experiences are filtered through practice, a disinterested study of the world is impossible. Our experience of the world will always be conditioned by our participation, our preconceptions and our interests. This way of thinking unites the mind and the body in an embodied practice, making and shaping our existence itself, not only our material surroundings and our perceptions of it. The discussion paper then turns to the topic of experience, and the interdependency of practice and experience. The biological foundation for our experiencing (the genes) and the way experience changes our brains (in the processes of experience-expectant and experience-dependent neuroplasticity) is introduced to expand upon Heidegger’s philosophical idea of dasein. Further, learning is discussed as a process of change brought upon by the combination of practice and experience. Drawing upon genetically sensitive educational research and motivated cognition (Kahan), the paper reflects on what is available to us and how our mere understanding of learning as flexible or not has an impact on what we may be able to learn. The focus is narrowed down to learning through embodied making, the physical practice of working with materials as a three-dimensional body in a space. How do we as teachers organize, motivate and lead our student’s in such processes. And how is education based on such principles still viable in today’s global economics and formal education perspective? Some issues related to teaching for learning in this area and research on these topics in relation to sustainable education concludes the paper.


A Discussion Paper Prepared for the TL&T Symposium in Vancouver, BC

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