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Listening for Learning

Performing a Pedagogy of Sound and Listening

Chris McRae

Whoosh, crunch, buzz, inhale, exhale . . . Listening for Learning: Performing a Pedagogy of Sound and Listening presents sound, listening, and pedagogical interactions as performances that create relationships, ways of being and knowing, and that provide an opportunity for transformations of existing and taken-for-granted practices in the classroom. By using performative listening and performative writing this book presents fragments of sound and listening as sites of learning and knowledge production. The written fragments throughout this book are offered as performances that listen for and hear sound as a central feature to educational practices in terms of bodies, classrooms, and pedagogy. The goal in sharing this performance of listening is to create opportunities for recognition, to invite further listening in educational contexts, and to employ listening as an opportunity for transforming and re-imagining educational spaces and interactions.

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Chapter 1. Listening for Learning Bodies


Sounds of learning bodies abound in the classroom. Students fill the space and their presence is made known in and by their sounds. Learning bodies activate the space with movements and vibrations. Learning bodies create continuity and connection through their actions, interactions, and intra-actions. And when the students leave, when the learning bodies are not in the classroom learning, there is a stillness, a silence, a disconnection.

This chapter listens to and for the sounds of learning bodies (McRae 20–23). What do they sound like? How do they sound? Where and when can the evidence of learning be found in sound? And how might sound and listening, as heuristics, create an expanded understanding of what it means to learn? For example, how might learning occur and be evidenced in the mundane and taken-for-granted sounds of learning bodies as they enter, move through, and inhabit the classroom? And how might sound and listening, as heuristics, also create expanded understandings of what it means to sound as learning bodies (beyond auditory dimensions and techniques)? For example, how might listening to learning bodies provide a way of sensing and making sense of the embodied presence, experience, and expertise of bodies working to learn?

This listening is not a neutral practice. Instead, this chapter presents my performance of listening that is actively working to locate and name sound as a site of bodies learning in a particular classroom context. This performance is always based on and in my experience,...

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