The body has an important place in the classroom. The body effects how information presented by that body will be understood. The body comes with lessons and histories that are underrepresented. Teaching about sexuality and practice bridges the story of the body with the mind, opening students to the idea that all teachings can fill this space, that the body is not irrelevant to the mind.
It is first important to look at the evolution of Western education. The foundation of the modern (American) public school is disciplined into maths, English, social studies, and science (which is developing towards science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) more recently), influenced by leaps in general education that began in technical colleges. Technical colleges rose from apprenticeships which began with the teacher-student dyads that appear in Greece. (These dyads show up in other early civilisations, but Ancient Greece is credited with creating the logics used in modern education). The dyads of Greece were reliant upon sexuality, utilising sexual activity to reinforce the social functions of hierarchy and politics (Garber, 2000, p. 320). The body was a tool of society; learning was conditioned by the body. Modern public education is based on the body being the tool of learning. While sexual exploitation of students is sharply discouraged by the erudite and guardian communities, there exists a truth that the body (understanding its strengths and capabilities) is required to have a full education.
Interacting with subjective material is a driving force of education. Through her analysis of liturgical examples of bierotic desire in the classroom, Garber (2000) noted that desire is the precursor of education (p. 324). Desire, emotion, and sexuality are all driven by the lymphic system—through their interconnectedness with efficient education, one should note that the education of a person relies on subjective means. The subject of desire or evocation (a teacher, a class topic) directly influences how a student will learn and how much they will retain. “Attraction” and “courtship” adequately describe a pupil and educational subject matter. This also suggests physiological responses in a student as their relationship changes. Even with objective goals in mind, a student being educated will oft remember the experience over the information. An effective teacher does not exploit the body of the student but sustains its interdependence by finding more stimuli, adding new material and more perspectives.
This is why the body is inseparable from the mind. bell hooks (1994) made the observation that many individuals (instructors and students alike) enter the classroom only ready to address the mind (p. 199). The mind is attached to the body, forming one system. Each acts with the other. The mind, first enamoured, then isolated, will make the body respond in kind, provoking instances of fidgeting during class or suddenly finding the lecture of an instructor stopped by an acute fog of distraction. The magic, lost, will appear in the actions (the mind interacting with the body) of the student.
Education can revitalise itself through the self-stimulation of the student. Historically, literature has been the stimulant of the coming out process for queer academics (Garber, 2000, pp. 318-9). For modern teens and younger adults, the internet (specifically social media) has provided a new, endless source of interactive literature that is commonly crafted by the market it sells itself to as a cycle of indoctrination. Through self-education, the student becomes infatuated with the text provided, a desire easily transferred to the author and the student simultaneously. A student can redefine themselves according to the conditions of the unchanging text, strengthening their relationship to ideas instead of fallible peoples. In “private” (also including when anonymous on the internet), the student can experiment, directly educating their self.
Sexuality and associative desire are the foundations of beneficial education. To have a rewarding experience, the mind and the body of the learner need to be stimulated. When this stimulation becomes regular and widely regarded in classrooms and among educators, systems to protect the bodies and minds of students in the physical world and especially the social media world will be efficiently developed.
Garber, M. (2000). Erotic education. Bisexuality & the eroticism of everyday life (pp. 317-344). New York, NY: Routledge.
hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the price of freedom. New York, NY: Routledge.