Movement Education

movement education

Kinesica is much more about movement education then about training. We think there is a large difference between these two approaches in physical activity.

What do we mean with movement education?

To state the obvious first, it is a kind of education, with moving as its major theme. A question still remains, what do we mean with education?

Education is expansive. A narrow specialized training may teach skills, tuck, tone or change the body composition, fitness, cardiovascular health or increase mobility. A training can be an intervention that changes the properties and attributes of the person, but this does not necessarily make it educative.

To define education we use the definition of one of the modern era’s most prominent thinkers of education, the American philosopher John Dewey.

Dewey described education as an activity in which an educator facilitates experience in the student that allows for more experience. That facilitation is mainly done by structuring the environment.  The experiences that we are after are experiences that opens doors to more experience. This experience is educative. An experience that closes doors can be something one learns from, or gets conditioned by, but it is not educative in the sense that it allows for a continuity of experiences. 

Applying this to the activity of moving: can one move in such away that it makes people want to move more, build the ability to sustain moving for longer and increase the variety of movement? The experience should be enjoyable in the moment and valuable for the future.

The lessons can open doors to perceive and use possibilities for action: affordances. A ball is to most people throwable, but many do not see a flying ball as catchable, because they do not see themselves as ball persons. With new experiences, people can perceive a thrown object as catchable. With this changed perception, many other situation have a greater potential for movement. A rail becomes not an obstacle but a ‘balancing line’ to walk on. A branch of a tree becomes hangable. A wall becomes a supporting structure for your handstand. An empty floor becomes a dancable surface. Falling can become an setup for a roll rather then a crash. 

Class can also help to focus on a path so the student does not get lost in all the possible options and choices. An added benefit is that it provides a social environment in which certain things that are in the outside world strange and forbidden, are becoming a norm. One such example is yawning.

The Yawn-Stretch reflex is one example of an inbuilt complex neuromuscular pattern that originates from an older and deeper brain structure that can be inhibited through our motor cortex. In other words, a old brain structure sparks this ancient behaviour we share with many mammals, but with our newer brain structures we can suppress this reflex in the same way we don’t eat, fight, fuck or sleep whenever we feel the urge, but as socialised humans practice delayed gratification.  The reflex is functional however and when fully expressed brings its benefits in relation to joint health, contractibility, sense of pleasure and brings wakefulness. Because of its relationship between wakefulness the act of yawning has been stigmatized in our culture as being an offensive action, signalling the degree to which the other person is boring you, especially in educational settings where attentiveness is a virtue. Also, showing the inside of your mouth can be deemed unhygienic and offensive. Many people will attempt to keep their mouth closed and hold a hand in front of their mouths. This does not allow for the full extension and contraction of the muscles around the shoulder and jaw joint, necessary for joint health.

In our class people are encouraged to stretch shamelessly whenever the urge arrives, as it’s organic nature makes it possibly much more beneficial than any teacher-invented exercise. As a side effect, acknowledging this impulse restores the relationship between the self-regulatory skills of the person in question. What does this urge tell you about your attention, wakefulness and energy level? This will help sustain activity level of a person over time, and improve the timing of someone’s restorative rest. 

The above is an example of how the social environment is related to the way you move, we have to keep this in mind as much as the physical environment.

.. to be continued..