Blog| U.lab 2x | Integrating head, heart and hands in (online) teaching

Can online meetings be generative and energizing! Yes, they can!

On June 10th, we had the fourth meeting of our U.lab 2x journey, in which teachers and students at Wageningen University explore how to integrate head, heart and hands in Higher Education.

Since The Netherlands went into ‘intelligent lockdown’ mid-March, we have been organizing our monthly meetings online. The tools and methods that we work with, offered by the Presencing Institute, are specifically aimed at engaging heart and hands (in addition to head) and often involve the body and the senses. Even though we’d still prefer in-person meetings over online meetings, we’ve experienced that these methods (adapted for a virtual setting) can add great value and really do encourage an integration of head, heart and hands. How we know it works? Because at the end of each meeting, we feel connected rather than isolated and energized rather than exhausted. An energy that’s almost tangible through the screens and has resulted in various creative outputs!

Is this then a plea for more online teaching and online meetings? Certainly not! But especially now that we’ve all been reduced to ‘heads on a screen’, as one of my students remarked, we need to pay even more attention to engaging our hearts and hands. This is thus a call to treat the body as more than ‘a taxi for our heads to travel on’ (as my dear friend and U.lab participant Philippa put it elsewhere) and explore methods in online teaching and meetings that can help faciliate that.

Our fourth and last meeting of the U.lab 2x journey was dedicated to  ‘Prototyping’ , i.e. translating an idea or concept into experimental action.

Image by Rooske Erden, Scratch Graphics.

After revisiting the experience of our previous Presencing session, we collectively brainstormed ideas we’d like to take forward. We then formed clusters of ideas and picked four ideas to work on in small groups. The four clusters were: 1. personal courage & collective support, 2. spaces for silence & mindfulness, 3. connecting to Earth 4. a WUR Transformative Learning Hub. These ideas will be taken forward by the participants.

On June 30th, we’ll organize a Harvest Festival to reflect on our learnings and share the results with a wider audience. Interested in joining?  Please send a message to anke.devrieze@wur.nl.

Many thanks again to Dave Pendle, Meghann Ormond, Philippa Collin and Rooske Eerden for co-organizing this lab & session!

Cover image by Rooske Eerden, Scratch Graphics