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Minding the Body

What Student Athletes Know About Learning

By Julie Cheville
Foreword by Bonnie S Sunstein

Minding the Body describes how sites of learning within a single institution can require distinct, sometimes conflicting, ways of knowing. Over a two-year period, Julie Cheville observed key episodes in the athletic and academic learning of members of a single intercollegiate basketball team. Their testimony highlights the influential partnership of mind and body.

On the court, the student athletes depended upon ritualized bodily activity to enter into relational knowing. Coaches and players perceived the human body as central to understanding. In the classroom, where learning was often characterized...

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Minding the Body describes how sites of learning within a single institution can require distinct, sometimes conflicting, ways of knowing. Over a two-year period, Julie Cheville observed key episodes in the athletic and academic learning of members of a single intercollegiate basketball team. Their testimony highlights the influential partnership of mind and body.

On the court, the student athletes depended upon ritualized bodily activity to enter into relational knowing. Coaches and players perceived the human body as central to understanding. In the classroom, where learning was often characterized by the transmission of information, cognition was detached from concrete activity and interaction. Dispelling the myth that language is the sole determiner of thought, Cheville explores the implications of academic settings that ignore or devalue the conceptual significance of the body.

Drawing upon her former experiences as writing instructor, academic tutor, and basketball coach, Cheville notes the effect of fragmented institutional sites. She indicates how an overarching ideological divide between thought (academic) and body (athletic) aggravated the conceptual orientations student athletes maintained. Among a host of recommendations, Cheville suggests the need for writing instruction in classrooms and academic support programs that minds the body by assisting students to draw upon their situated experiences of being and knowing for the purposes of critical inquiry.

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