American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting
Theme: Leveraging Educational Research in a “Post-Truth” Era: Multimodal Narratives to Democratize Evidence
April 5-9, 2019
Title: Critical Multisensory Noticing (Paper)
Session: Critical Participatory and Multisensory Approaches in Mathematics Teacher Noticing
Authors: Cecilia Valenzuela, Elizabeth Mendoza, Miguel Abad
Abstract: This paper aims to unsettle dominant cognitive frameworks for noticing by foregrounding the senses and the body. Specifically, we draw from women of color feminisms (Anzaldúa, 1987/2002; Cruz, 2001; Collins, 2002; Lorde, 1993; Moraga & Anzaldúa, 1983/2015) that center everyday, lived experiences of the body as historically situated within social, political, and ideological constellations. This approach highlights how bodies are deeply engaged in the production of knowledge, and are consequential to how we notice ourselves and young people. Particularly, we describe a collaboration between a community of scholars and educators in which we engaged with noticing as an embodied, relational and historically situated practice.
Teacher noticing has been primarily reduced to cognitive interpretations of seeing, feeling, and hearing. As Louie (2018) argues, a cognitive focus can overlook barriers “to noticing that dominant ideologies about mathematics, intelligence, and race can create” (p. 58), which often results in both symbolic and actual violence against racially marginalized communities. Frameworks that reduce noticing to biology, brain states, or abstracted cognitive models elide all of the other possibilities in which noticing is shaped by the world in which we live, and the bodies that we inhabit. Feminist scholars of color have made known the ways in which living, learning, suffering, resisting, and creating are entangled and inseparable from the mind and body. These understandings make evident the significance of multiple, historical subject positions and power relations. Collins (2002) illustrates how experiences, “personal expressiveness, emotions and empathy are central to the knowledge validation process” (p. 263). Similarly, Cruz (2012) writes that “the body prompts memory and language, [and] builds community and coalition” (p. 72). These understandings take into account ways in which educators can attune their bodies to critically reflect upon their own social and historical locations.
To explore this, we organized a Critical Participatory Action Research Summer Institute program with teachers, community members, and university researchers to engage with embodied experiential activities that reshape noticing predispositions and habitual patterns. We utilized multimodal (New London Group, 2000) and sensory-based activities to expand dominant visual and cognitive understandings of noticing. These foregrounded senses and non-linguistic modes such as sight, sound, and gesture. We also engaged with topics that focused on the body’s complex relationship to historical and social dimensions.
Drawing from 40 hours of audio /video recordings, participant reflective journaling, and both pre-planning and institute artifacts, our initial analysis issues forth a unique critical embodied noticing praxis. This is an embodied way of being and knowing that facilitates a noticing of relations, power, and history that seeks to rupture habitual ways of engaging with ourselves and the world. For example as one participant explained, “I am feeling with my whole body… listening, tasting, remembering, and existing. I appreciate this practice because I am both present and expansive in my thought”. In summary, a critical embodied noticing praxis has implications for the field of teacher education and more broadly, how educators notice students and their communities in more nuanced, critical, and holistic ways.