Massage & Bodywork

JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2020

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education SOMATIC RESEARCH From Socrates to Bodywork By Sasha Chaitow, PhD Ta k e 5 a n d t r y A B M P F i v e - M i n u t e M u s c l e s a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / f i v e - m i n u t e - m u s c l e s . 45 I have a confession to make. I firmly believe there is poetry in scientific research. Let me explain. I'll never forget the day I walked into a class of modern, wired, moody, and disaffected Greek teenagers and taught them to love poetry. To them, poetry was dry, dusty, difficult, and disconnected from their lives. When I innocently asked about it a few classes before, they were united in their confident hatred of it. So, a few weeks later, I walked into the classroom without speaking, flicked off the lights, and showed them a performance of "Antidote" (2016), by Greek-Australian performance poet Luka Lesson. 1 (Stop what you're doing and before reading any further watch the three- minute video found at www.youtube.com/ watch?v=nzQIkh5Oj18 or scan the QR code on page 47.) Then, I asked them what they made of it. At no point did I mention the p-word. They were wild with enthusiasm and curiosity. By the end of the class, they had discovered a freedom of expression they never imagined, and they found joy in decoding and interpreting the hidden meanings between the lines. As they packed to leave, I told them, "And that, my dears, was poetry!" They spent the lesson thinking it was just an interlude to their normal curriculum. They had no idea that poetry is meant to be spoken, heard, and lived, not dissected to death. In that class, they ended up writing poetry just for the sheer joy of it—in English, which is what I was supposed to be teaching them anyway, but I got to enjoy the process. I pulled the same trick on them with both Shakespeare (using a rap version) and Renaissance art (turned into a detective game), and later used the same technique to warm up a frosty academic writing classroom filled with earnest but tongue-tied graduate students. FLIPPING THE SCRIPT— THE SOCRATIC WAY Also called "the flipped classroom" approach, my teaching technique is rooted in the Socratic method. This form of cooperative, argumentative dialogue is designed to spark and develop critical thinking. Using the Socratic method, the teacher (or facilitator) doesn't lecture or overload the learner with information, but instead guides them through an intensely interactive process of discovery using open questions. Socrates believed that learning is actually a process of remembering (called anamnesis in Greek), and that teaching is simply a process of helping the learner remember what is lodged in their subconscious mind. Using the Socratic method means throwing out the textbook— literally—and "teaching unplugged" or "from the hip," as is often said in the Dogme teaching method. 2 The modern form of the Dogme teaching method is based on the Socratic method and was (re)born out of language teaching. Its beauty is that it can be applied to all fields of knowledge. Once mastered, learners will be able to apply it to anything they want to understand. I was not taught to use this method formally; I developed it out of sheer frustration with my students and the mainstream teaching process. TEACHING STUDENTS TO TEACH THEMSELVES In the early days, I taught English as a second language to teens and adults, but I quickly began losing the will to live when preparing lengthy lesson plans from books that were out of touch with real life and plodding through endless grammar tables. The struggle was real. There were days when teaching was like pulling teeth; I was more bored than my students, and I couldn't blame them. Blessed with an insatiable love of learning myself, it seemed obvious that if I could teach my students to learn for themselves—and love doing so—it would save me an awful lot of frustration and would give them a gift they could use throughout their lives. So, I gave up trying to teach them English and began teaching them how to teach themselves. The key was helping them understand how what they were learning was relevant to their lives and the real world. Language is not simply a sum of its parts, and neither is life. The results were incredible! Eventually, I was invited to develop and lead teacher-training courses and seminars for colleagues and educators in all kinds of fields and at all levels. The goal was for them to take and apply these methods for themselves. THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX Since I first started teaching, I found the whole notion of chopping language into bite-size pieces entirely irrational. The purpose of language is to communicate, and anyone who has ever visited a foreign

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