“I know with my whole body”
Shared by Lisa-Marie Gagliardi
In the preschool west classroom, we have been thinking with what it means to be good and bad lately. The children came up with a list of words they associated with goodness and badness. We laid out the words and thought with the common interest in superheroes and bad guys. Slowly, we began to see that our binary distinctions crumbled with our difficult questions: Are good and bad always mutually exclusive? How might badness live in goodness and vice versa? Who decides what is good and what is bad?
With this ongoing thinking moving our curriculum-making, we noticed these questions related to many unsuspecting ways of being at the centre.
One afternoon, Chris had a nosebleed. As I was holding a tissue up to his nose, he looked at me and asked: “Why do all of us have blood in our bodies?”
I answered: “We need blood to live.”
Chris continued: “Why?”
“Interesting question. Why do you think?”
Chris thought for a moment…
“First, I eat from a plate. Then I crunch into tiny pieces. It goes into my tummy and goes all around my body, then it turns into people. The legs and to my feet. Then it eats my bones and then the blood is running away from the food that turns into monsters. Blood is the fire monsters. The blood has to fight the food monsters. Blood is the good one. Every time blood has to win. Food is the bad one. Some food is bad… big vegetables are monsters broccoli, not peas… Good food is small vegetables, bread, peas, carrots, mashed potatoes. They are on the blood team. It turns into transformers. They’re very strong and always win. Food is the vehicles with people inside the vehicles who drive. They call my body the store.”
Chris tells this story about food and blood, within familiar binary understandings of good and bad. Interestingly, he blurs the boundary by naming some foods that transform into the blood, and end up on the good team. This transformation of food to blood makes me think Yusoff’s work on “blood knowledge” (Cixous, as cited in Yusoff, 2015), in which the food we eat transforms to become written in our blood.
“Corporeal generosity is a writing in blood that says this body carries a trace of the other, so this body and its cultural expression are not finished, and neither you nor I have the final word. corporeal generosity [as] a writing in the blood” (Diprose, as cited in Yusoff, 2015).
“Wow. How do you know all this?” I asked
“I just know. I know with my whole body.”
I wondered, and still wonder: what does it mean to know with your whole body?
Early childhood education is not privy to embodied ways of knowing. Embodied knowledges and embodied ways of knowing do not often appear on program plans, curriculum documents or early childhood education textbooks. Thinking with Land and Danis (2016), I suggest the embodied knowledge Chris signals is different from the Euro-Western developmental conceptualizations of gross motor skills and physical literacy often referred to in early childhood education. This is not a knowledge of the body, but with the body. Taking Chris’s convictions seriously calls us to think with the body, to know differently, to traverse common binary notions of mind/body and good/bad.
How does knowing with the body subvert the dominance of mind over body, in a way that does not simply invert the hierarchy, but dismantles it entirely? How does knowing with the body call us to pay attention to fooding pedagogies and relations differently?
Land, N. & Danis, I. (2016). Movement/ing provocations in early childhood education. Journal of Childhood Studies, Vol. 41 (3), pp. 26-37.
Yusoff, K. (2015). Queer coal: Genealogies in/of the blood. philoSOPHIA, Vol. 5, (2), pp. 203-229.