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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 8. A Pedagogy of Sound


In their introduction to Keywords in Sound, David Novak and Matt Sakakeeny describe sound as both material and discursive. They explain, “Sound is vibration that is perceived and becomes known through its materiality. Metaphors for sound construct perceptual conditions of hearing and shape the territories and boundaries of sound in social life” (1). The materiality and metaphorical dynamic of sound offers a productive starting place for considering the pedagogical implications of sound.

In the fragments presented in this chapter I am interested in exploring and identifying ways sound is configured metaphorically and has material consequences for pedagogical contexts and interactions. And as Novak and Sakakeeny go on to explain: “Sound resides in this feedback loop of materiality and metaphor, infusing words with a diverse spectrum of meanings and interpretations” (1). The materiality of sound and the metaphorical descriptions of sound are not separate phenomena. Sound teaches and shapes teaching in ways that are always both metaphorical and materially configured and experienced.

Nina Sun Eidsheim emphasizes the embodied and relational consequences of the ways sound is framed and defined. For Eidsheim, not only are there ←189 | 190→material implications for the understanding and naming of sound, but there are also relational consequences. She advocates for an understanding of sound not as an object, but as “event through the practice of vibration” (Sensing Sound, 3). Eidsheim goes on to explain that there are relational implications for the theorization of sound as a multisensorial event. She explains:

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