A pedagogy of vital contact | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1757-1871
  • E-ISSN: 1757-188X



Children, youth, other persons, animals even are those with whom our lives are entwined, yet our connections are customarily superficial, fleeting and distant. Where they are sustained in various professional and pedagogical practices, the relations tend to be constrained by routines, rituals and rites. The primary motive of contact improvisation, however, is to connect to others beyond our habitual containments. As a movement form, contact improvisation brings postural, positional, gestural and expressive nuance to our actions, reactions and interactions. It is a somatic practice not only of relating sensitively to others, but also of cultivating a corporeal responsiveness to those who would otherwise fall outside our personal and professional commitments. We realize the possibilities of such connection when the spatial, and especially the temporal, dynamics of contact improvisation are transposed ‘somatophorically’ to discursive realms. A felt durational emphasis can be now heard as the agogic accent of multilingualism. And as an accent of speech, but also of song, music and motion, its significance spreads through all our relations with others. Particular attention is paid to the pedagogical formulation of this accent and to how improvisatory contact might be transposed to settings of evident educational concern. Relations between teachers and students, therapists and clients, social workers and youth, as well as parents and their children, can incorporate this accent of contact duration. At their pedagogical best, these relations can be corporeally improvisatory, multilingually responsive, and essentially and durationally tactful. More formal, institutionalized representations of pedagogy can thus be understood as derivative, and too often subversive, of a vital contact with others in the manifold, multilingual worlds we share.


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