Affectivity and Relational Awareness in Pedagogy and Education
moments of hesitation in intersubjective encounters
Keywords:Relational awareness, Intersubjective encounter, Affectivity and hesitation, Compassion and self-compassion, Mindfulness
In this article, we put forward the concept ‘relational awareness’ to describe a conscious awareness of the experience of relational responsivity and dynamics of change in stressful intersubjective encounters in pedagogy and education. This concept is inspired by phenomenology and cultural-historical theory. We introduce the theories of extended affectivity, embodied resonance and intersubjectivity and relate these to cultural-historical psychology in order to explore how people appraise and understand situations related to societal goals, motives, practices and mediating means. Relational awareness, which involves being consciously aware of embodied, pre-reflective relational responsivity, is specific to the cultural context, to the mediating means, and the lived experiences of the person. Relational awareness and responsivity can be objects of reflection and education when educational practices include deliberate work on embodied experience and mediational means to reflect on and change experienced intercorporeity. Relational awareness differs from interpersonal perception in that it involves embodied activity mediated by embodied knowledge and social means of language and discourse.
Our conceptualisation of relational awareness is empirically driven by two qualitative studies of preschool teachers’ and teachers’ embodied practices to become presently aware during intersubjective encounters with children in stressful everyday conditions. The embodied practices in the study were inspired by exercises in mindfulness and compassion, which were adjusted according to how the participants experienced their significance. The flexibly adjusted exercises and discourses appeared to provide participants with the mediational embodied and discoursive means to become relationally aware in difficult encounters. Biesta’s conceptualisation of ‘moments of hesitation’ contributes to the discussion of ‘relational awareness’ in education and care.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Anne Maj Nielsen, Freja Filine Petersen
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