What's Lacking in Online Learning? Dreyfus, Merleau‐Ponty and Bodily Affective Understanding

Journal of Philosophy of Education (forthcoming)
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Skepticism about the limits of online learning is as old as online learning itself. As with other technologically-driven innovations in pedagogy, there are deep-seated worries that important educational goods might be effaced or obscured by the ways of teaching and learning that online methods allow. One family of such worries is inspired by reflections on the bodily basis of an important kind of understanding, and skepticism over whether this bodily basis can be inculcated in the absence of actual, flesh-and-blood, classroom interactions. This paper focuses on the ways in which such worries arise in the influential work of Hubert Dreyfus. The negative conclusion for which I argue is that endorsing Dreyfus's Merleau-Pontian picture of the relationship between bodily skill and understanding does not commit us to his general pessimism concerning online learning—bodily, emotional, and interactive dimensions might be essential to learning, but we lack reasons to think that online learning necessarily lacks these dimensions. The negative argument motivates a positive claim: rather than giving up on online learning we should focus on designing courses and pedagogies that scaffold the bodily, affective and interactive dynamics constitutive of understanding in a particular domain.



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Dave Ward
University of Edinburgh

References found in this work

Phenomenology of Perception.Aron Gurwitsch, M. Merleau-Ponty & Colin Smith - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (3):417.
Being and Time.Ronald W. Hepburn - 1964 - Philosophical Quarterly 14 (56):276.
Retrieving Realism.Hubert Dreyfus & Charles Taylor - 2015 - Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Participatory sense-making: An enactive approach to social cognition.Hanne De Jaegher & Ezequiel Di Paolo - 2007 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (4):485-507.

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