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Curriculum as Community Building

The Poetics of Difference, Emergence, and Relationality


Liesa Griffin Smith

Our contemporary historical moment is often characterized by social, political, economic, technological, and educational complexities, as well as lived experiences of estrangement, isolation, insecurity, loss, threat, and trauma. Within this difficult context, conventional understandings of community which often rely upon assimilation or exclusion are devoid of hope, and new imaginations of community and community building are needed to cultivate generative, nurturing, sustaining experiences of life together. Through a multi-threaded exploration of the curriculum as embodied and emerging in a living ecosystem, new conceptualizations of community building may emerge. Drawing upon poststructural feminism, poetics, autobiography, and metaphors of the maternal body, this book explores the complicated intersections of difference, embodiment, emergence, and relationality within the curriculum, to reimagine the possibilities of building the other community, one inclusive of difference. Facing the challenges of our time with hope, grace, and creativity, this book is uniquely positioned in a middle space between the theoretical concerns of the academic community and the needs for accessibility by the practitioner within an instructional context.
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5. Emergence


“We take our measure of being from what surrounds us, and what surrounds us isalways to some extent, of our own making.” (Harrison, 2002, p. 349, as cited inCasemore, 2008, p. 1).

“Time, place, culture, and internal experiencing form an intricate web of connectionsand circular movements in space.” (Wang, 2009, p. 167).

“We cannot make or force our students to expose themselves to what is other anddifferent and strange … the only thing we can do is to make sure that there are at leastopportunities within education to meet and encounter what is different, strange andother.” (Biesta, 2004, p. 321).

In the previous chapter I explored the lived, experiential and embodied curriculum, in which theory is enacted, practiced and known in and through our physical bodies. This perspective acknowledges that we live in a material world and engage with/in our world as embodied human beings, who come into being and interact with other beings who are themselves physical bodies in the world. In my examination of this embodiment, I proposed that my ←131 | 132→vision of curriculum as community building is internalized and lived out in our bodies and that curriculum as community building emerges through the various gifts and works of the body, bodies that are always-already situated in interconnectedness and intersectionality. Just as theory becomes praxis when it is situated and worked out in and through physical bodies, so too are bodies situated and working in both time and space. The focus of...

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