At the risk of pointing out the blatantly obvious, every kid has a body. Actually in my 60 plus years here on Earth I’ve never met (and neither have you) even one kid (or human being) who did not have a body.
As a matter of fact, at the early stages, the body is the most fundamental aspect of the self. In the middle stages the body is still the most fundamental aspect of the self. And at the latter stages the body continues to be the most fundamental aspect of the self. In short, no body…no self.
In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra (in a chapter entitled On the Despisers of the Body) he states “I want to speak to the despisers of the body. I would not have them learn or teach differently, but merely say farewell to their own bodies – and thus become silent.”
Yet in Modern Educational Circles…
So when you really sit down and think about it, one’s body is more than just kind of important. It is absolutely and unequivocally the most fundamental foundation of one’s being. Yet in our nation’s schools and modern educational circles we celebrate advancements in math. We celebrate advances in science. And we celebrate advances in reading and test scores and anything that has to do with the mind and the brain – at the expense of the physical body (and Physical Education) which is considered strictly a second class citizen who inevitably deserves a seat in the back of the educational bus.
Spark and Brain Rules
Even in two recently published books that make ironclad cases for the crucial role of physical movement in the learning process (Spark and Brain Rules) Dr. John Ratey and John Medina both treat the body as merely a means, in service to the mind, the brain. In other words, improved math, science, and reading scores are the primary goals. The physical body is perceived as a means to (thus subservient to) those primary goals.
Nietzsche/Zarathustra would tell both Ratey and Medina that they have their paradigms inverted and their priorities upside down. “The self says to the ego, feel pain here! Then the ego suffers and thinks how it might suffer no more – and that is why it is made to think. The self says to the ego, feel pleasure here! Then the ego is pleased and thinks how it might often be pleased again – and that is why it is made to think.”
Control Your Body, Control Your Self
Modern educators could do well by taking a tip from Nietzsche/Zarathustra and begin the educational process by helping students learn about, understand, and control the most fundamental aspect of themselves, their own body. With a solid physical foundation upon which to build, they can then successfully add secondary considerations such as math, science, and reading. (If you really want to get adventurous you could add philosophy, politics, and religeon.) But without that solid, physical foundation there is no such thing as math, science, and reading. If we get our priorities straight, education might even begin to make sense to kids. And wouldn’t that be a good thing?