Sociomaterialistic Perspective on Science Education

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Sociomaterialistic Perspective on Science Education

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Title Sociomaterialistic Perspective on Science Education
Author(s) Jobér, Anna
Date 2016
English abstract
In this article I use a fictive microscope and fictive student in a science classroom as a focal point in order to elaborate on matter and things in science education. This paper is a part of a larger book project that aims to critically discuss science education from a Nordic perspective. The microscope and its setting; the science classroom, is chosen since the science subjects and its teacher particularly rely on and use tools and artefacts in their daily practice (Röhl, 2015). However, this practise and the use of things, matter and material in education are according to Fenwick “often missing from accounts of educational processes such as learning. Materials tend to be ignored as part of the backdrop for human action” (ibid, p.141). With a sociomaterialistic approach, this paper opens up educational practices as collective sociomaterial enacments (Fenwick et al, 2015). Following Röhl (2015 and Fenwick et al (2015) this paper elaborates on following questions: What kind of education is configured through and with material objects? How are the range of actors - human and non-human - influencing what is enacted in education? How do some educational practices become stabilized? How do sociomaterial assemblages produce particular identities, discourses and possibilities? The goal therefore, leaning on Barad (2007) is not only to “simply to recognise that both social and material matter, but to examine how they matter” (ibid, p.30). Inspired by writers such as Latour (1999, 2005), Mol (2000), Fenwick (2010, 2011) and Barad (2003, 2007) this paper “focus on materials as dynamic and enmeshed with human activity in everyday practices”(Fenwick et al, 2015, p.143). Material refers here to things, tools and non-human actors (in this case a microscope). Social refers to meanings, desires, discourses and human actors (in this case a student in a science educational discourse). From a sociomaterialistic perspective (as well as ANT and STS) ideas, practices and facts are effects not of one thinker, nor of a specific action. Rather they are effects of assemblages and web of relations between actors, both human and non – human. For example, knowledge building or learning are an effects of joint exercises in assemblages of actors that are co-creators of meaning and knowledge. Realities therefore becomes a products of history, discourses, bodies and many other factors (Gunnarsson, 2015).The assemblages, and the effects of these, travels through time and space and is not one-dimensional nor singular, reality is multiple and created constantly in a myriad of different ways. We exist, according to Haraway (1991) in an ocean of powerful stories and narratives which opens up for new stories and realities to constantly take shape. The microscope and the student for example, are therefore not only passive objects or actors, they represent and create a synthesis of sociohistorical legacies and put in a chain of discourses, knowledge and power issues that comes into being in the classroom. A sociomaterialistic view are of special interest in education since human and non-humans intra-act towards a production of knowledge. Education is therefore understood as a results of an interplay between human and non-humans (Fenwick et al, 2015). In addition, a sociomaterial perspective annul a dichotomised (and reduced) view on education when effects of assemblages moves beyond time and space and beyond the local and global Röhl (2015). Methods/methodology (up to 400 words) Three threads will be followed into webs of actions and actors within earlier research, curricula, websites, analyses of google pictures and youtube-clips. The threads are connected to each other through societal and educational discourses that characterize science education (Carlone, 2003; Lederman, 2008; Lundin & Lindahl, 2014). A sociomaterialistic perspective however demands a “rethinking of causality as entanglements with surprising effects, not linear relations between causes and effects (Fenwick et al, 2015, p.143). This rethinking is not easily done, the “methods and theories are difficult to apply (Fenwick et al, 2015, p.121) and the elaboration is complex. In this elaboration, I will therefore use four notions to guide me. One of the ontological basis for the sociomaterial methodology lies within the view that “[i]t is not that separate, delineated entities come together to interact, rather things already loosely connected participate actively with each other to produce particular phenomena” (Fenwick et al, 2015, p. 134, my italic). The student and the microscope (i.e. the practical work that a student performs with a microscope in a science classroom) will therefore together be in the focal point. When a human (e.g. a student) repeatedly is encountered with a non-human (e.g. an equipment), it is created, with Barads perspective, an intra-action. The smallest unit in this elaboration is therefore not the student, not the microscope; it is the reality, the phenomenon that they create together in an intra-action. This phenomena must be understood as both student and microscope, where ”[o]ne is too few, two is too many” (Haraway, 1991, p.35). However, this perspective are deeply complex. In order to make some elaborations that could be understood I will draw on Barad (2003) and do an agential cut and look at a specific intra-action (i.e. the microscope and the student), that will become the “apparatus of observation”. Barad describes the notion apparatus as “dynamic (re)configurings of the world, specific agential practices/intra-actions/performances” (ibid, p.816) which can create boundaries in order to define e.g. activities and phenomena (Fenwick et al, 2015) It is through the apparatus that figurations (formations, configurations) are created and formed. Figurations points toward the performative, practices and actions that forms something into a figure or a stabilisation (such as a taken-for granted practice), or seen from an ANT-perspective, an ”immutible mobiles” (Latour, 1986). I argue that it is here that research with a sociomaterialistic perspective shows how questions above can be understood. Expected outcomes/results (up to 300 words) The analysis and elaboration of these threads are under process; however, some preliminary outcomes can be described. Firstly (1), the apparatus (the student and the microscope) becomes a prototype (Carlone, 2003) of the “real” scientist and his artefacts in a science lab. The apparatus therefore participate in figuration of the discourse of what science is and should do however with fewer resources and other objectives (Zogza and Ergazaki, 2013). Together with apparatuses in classrooms around the world, it becomes a phenomenon that creates powerful pictures and might contribute to a stabilisation of “taken for granted notions and sociohistorical legacies of science” (Carlone, 2003, p. 308). Secondly (2), when bringing in equipment into the classroom this imply that a number of institutions (such as manufacturers) indirectly govern the classroom (Röhl, 2015). Likewise the scientist they are driven by other objectives and the classroom might become remotely governed. Preliminary analyses shows that this remotely governing takes place through the apparatus. Thirdly (3), tools and artefact in school are often simplified versions. This might cause a reduction of learning possibilities and a vertical learning process. Tools and artefacts used in the science classroom are not at all harmless. In intra-action with the student, they becomes apparatus that performs and creates realities. I.e. things and matter “transmits knowledge and values across time and space (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010, p. 9). However, “intra-actions are constraining but not determining” (Barad, 2003, p. 826).When acknowledging this perspective there are therefore “possibilities for acting … at every moment, and these changing possibilities entail a responsibility to intervene in the world’s becoming, to contest and rework what matters and what is excluded from mattering” (ibid, p.827). In other words, “[t]he future is radically open at every turn” (ibid, p.826). Intent of publication Jobér, A. (2016). Cultural performativity in science education. Troubling laboratory life and inquiry-based learning (prel title). In K. Otrel-Cass, M. Sillasen, A. Arvola Orlander (Eds.). Cultural, Social, and Political Perspectives in Science Education. A Nordic View. Springer. References (400 words) Barad, K. (2003). Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter. Journal of Women in Culture and Society 2003, vol. 28, no. 3, pp 801 – 831. Barad, K.M. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press. Carlone, H. (2003). Innovative science within and against a culture of ‘achievement’. Science Education, 87(3), pp. 307–328. Edwards, R. (2002). Mobilizing lifelong learning: governmentality in educational practices, Journal of Education Policy, 17(3), pp. 353-365. Fenwick, T., Doyle, S., Michael, M., Scoles, J. (2015). Matters of Learning and Education. Sociomaterial Approaches in Ethnographic Research. In S. Bollig., M. Honig, S. Neumann & C. Seele, C. (eds.) MultiPluriTrans in educational ethnography: approaching the multimodality, plurality and translocality of educational realities. Pp. 141-162. Fenwick, T. (2010). (un)Doing standards in education with actor‐network theory. Journal of Education Policy, 25(2), pp. 117-133. Fenwick, T. (2011). Reading Educational Reform with Actor Network Theory: Fluid spaces, otherings, and ambivalences. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 43(1), pp. 114-134. Fenwick, Tara J. & Edwards, Richard (2010). Actor-network theory in education [Elektronisk resurs]. 1st ed. London: Routledge. Gunnarsson, Karin (2015). Med önskan om kontroll: figurationer av hälsa i skolors hälsofrämjande arbete. Diss. Stockholm : Stockholms universitet, 2015. Haraway, D. J. (1991). A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century. In D. J. Haraway (Eds.), Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge. Latour, B. (1999). “On recalling ANT”, in Law, John & Hassard, John (eds). Actor Network Theory and after. Oxford: Blackwell, p. 19. Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lundin, M., & Lindahl M. G. (2014). Negotiating the relevance of laboratory work: safety, procedures and accuracy brought to the fore in science education, Nordina 10(1), pp. 32–45. Mol, Annemarie. (2000). Things and thinking. Some incorporations of intellectuality. Quest Vol. XIV, No. 1-2, 2000. Röhl, T. (2015). Transsituating Education. Educational Artefacts in the Classroom and Beyond. In S. Bollig., M. Honig, S. Neumann & C. Seele, C. (eds.) MultiPluriTrans in educational ethnography: approaching the multimodality, plurality and translocality of educational realities. Pp. 121 – 139.
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Science education
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
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