This is a guest post by Danielle Clevenger, based on a talk she gave at the 2018 Central APA session, “Shaking Up the Standard Lecture,” which was hosted by the APA Committee on Teaching Philosophy. Danielle is currently finishing up her M.A. in philosophy at Eastern Michigan University and will be starting a Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She has also taught at the University of Detroit Mercy. Her research areas include the philosophy of science, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and socially engaged philosophy. She notes, “I particularly enjoy teaching Introduction to Philosophy, as it allows me the freedom to explore non-traditional ways of conceptualizing and teaching philosophy. I am particularly interested in using movement and other experimental learning activities to enhance the teaching of philosophy both inside and outside of the traditional classroom.”
It is an unfortunate truth that many classrooms, philosophy or otherwise, tend to be sedentary and lethargic. In order to more fully engage my students, I have started implementing movement based lessons in my classroom. Coming from a dance and theater background, where movement is integral to learning the material, I found myself often observing how movement related to philosophy. As a teacher, I have designed several lessons to get my students up and moving. One of my favorites, that seems to resonate well with students, and significantly enhances their understanding of philosophical concepts, centers on Iris Marion Young’s paper, “Throwing Like a Girl: A Phenomenology of Feminine Body Comportment Motility and Spatiality.” This paper introduces my Introduction to Philosophy students to feminist philosophy and phenomenology. Although this is not a paper that has been historically taught in an introductory course, I have found that it is one that captivates students and expands their view of what philosophy is. Below, I will describe in detail the movement learning activity that I employ and how it connects to Young’s argument in the paper. Additionally, I will share some student feedback regarding this learning activity, and conclude by offering some of the more general benefits of movement based learning activities.