This issue of Reconceptualising Educational Research Methodology offers the reader a range of insights from scholars located in different disciplinary spaces and geopolitical contexts. This collection of articles may at first appear to address very different topics: early childhood teachers’ stories about ‘culture’ in Australia; on-line YouTube followership as research in the USA; an Artographic approach to Theatre in Education situated in Finland; and the co-creation of data with young people in a Kulturskole in Norway. Yet a deep engagement with each reveals several threads to run throughout the collection that raise important questions when contemplating what else educational research can become when established conventions are questioned or put aside altogether in favour of approaches that foreground theoretically-rich methodologies that refuse formulaic implementation. Each paper invites the reader to question researcher relationships with ‘participants’; and to consider the possibilities available when mobilizing philosophy to reconsider what and how research might be undertaken otherwise.
The issue opens with an article written by Sonja Arndt and Clare Bartholomaeus that seeks to diffract early childhood teachers’ stories about culture in pursuit of more-than-only-social justice, and to reimagine research methodologies. The authors recount their multi-modal, multi-layered approach to researching with teachers that produced collectively entangled stories that reached far beyond anyone individual. They candidly recount the emergent and messy shape that their research project took, whilst finding themselves negotiating and working against research conventions (recognisable methods, ethics applications and so on). Their approach is described as a middling, where they recognise the significance of their own situatedness which found expression in surprising ways as the study took on unanticipated shapes. The article offers ‘philosophy as method’ by drawing upon the work of Julia Kristeva and Karen Barad to disrupt and reformulate ideas about both ‘culture’ and ‘research’. Theirs is a hopeful project that seeks to elevate the ways in which methodologies, when understood as always re-iterative, contingent and in response to relational context, can shift the ground on which research is conceived and takes shape.
Next, Maureen Lehto Brewster offers a phenomenological analysis of a researcher becoming a YouTube follower. The paper attends to the methodological implications of such a phenomenon by paying close attention, through event memories, to how and why this comes to matter. The author offers detailed reflections on YouTube culture and considers how it is designed to influence affective relations among creators and followers on the platform. Phenomenology, with its concern to study experience as lived, has the capacity for researchers to develop a lens that makes an ordinary lived experience quite extraordinary. Lehto Brewster pursues the extraordinariness of following with the help of Sara Ahmed’s queer phenomenology. The meticulous analysis throughout the article allows the affective dimensions of the phenomenon of on-line following to be intricately explored by asking: how is this phenomenon lived? Experienced? Productive? How does a feeling shape our worldview? Whose feelings shape the concept? The paper highlights the ways in which relating, knowing and trusting are fundamental to cultivating followers. Connections are then drawn between research and internet use (i.e. following) in which researchers mediate content based upon internal biases, predictive impulses and collaborative filtering. Like, Arndt and Bartholomaeus the inevitable and indisputable entanglement of the researcher is made explicit. Rather than being viewed as something that can (or should) be mitigated, reduced or somehow controlled – both papers make visible how such entanglements are produced, and how they can be embraced to enrich research and the claims that are made from such studies.
Nina Dahl-Tallgren then offers an account of becoming artography by attending to the movements of possibility in four evolving spaces: lingering in-between; transformation and affect; knowing and being; and encouraging diffractions with young people in a Finnish Theatre programme. Inspired by Baradian agential realism, the study takes up a diffractive methodology to read insights and discoveries that consider how ‘artist’, ‘researcher’ and ‘teacher’ intra-act through entangled practices. The theatre project sought to investigate how humans encounter global challenges, find ways to reduce risks and find new ways to think and work towards sustainable action. The role of the artographer was central to the project and facilitated reflection upon - what if, what is, what has been, what has yet to become and what matters - as new ways to understand, engage audiences, and provoke new learning through co-creation. Dahl-Tallgren’s close attention to ‘becoming artography’ allows for diffractive patterns to push all of those involved in Theatre in Education programmes to places outside usual comfort zones. The role of becoming artography then, highlights that when ‘artist’ is foregrounded a sensuous connection with human experience provides dramatic tension for participants; when ‘researcher’ is foregrounded genuine curiosity to explore and navigate through the process becomes pronounced; and when ‘teacher’ is foregrounded scope to be more engaged in what it sets in motions and what that means for participants is set free. With an agential realist lens artography is conceptualised and encountered as inherently dynamic, and constantly shifting and mutating. Like the previous two papers, Dahl-Tallgren makes visible the nuances, intricacies, tensions and affordances of embracing research as situated and relational. All three papers make explicit the potential that is set free when researchers refuse Donna Haraway’s ‘god trick’ and instead work with what the messy, middling of situated research might make possible.
Finally, Mali Hauen and Monica Klungland offer ‘trembling moments’ in their account of data-making with young people in a kulturskole in Norway. The authors co-creation methodologies with young people sought to reach understandings about what kulturskole does rather than what it is. Working with a small group of pupils it became apparent that methodologies that could reach beyond capturing accounts that represented their experiences were needed. Young people wanted to be heard, to tell their stories, and to offer embodied accounts of what being with the kulturskole potentiates. The approach taken brought together critical personal narratives, autoethnography, a/r/tography – which together became a methodology grounded in the physicality of making and creating. As the other papers in this issue gesture toward, following narrowly defined research conventions creates frustrations and false starts. Pushing against such conventions involves being adaptive and flexible; the authors draw upon existing and emerging examples of research-creation from the growing field of postqualitative inquiry. Their study underlines the importance in creating space for research to become something else, something more – where ‘participants’ can express themselves in a wider range of non-normative modalities, in this case through embodied languages. Through rap and the creation of short films pupils were able to engage in an affirmative and vital approach to ‘research participation’ which shifted power, positionality and called in to question what counts as research.
Jayne Osgood, Camilla Eline Andersen, Mona Lisa Angell, Lotta Johannson and Ann Merete Otterstad
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Copyright (c) 2023 Jayne Osgood, Camilla Eline Andersen; Mona-Lisa Angell; Lotta Johansson, Ann Merete Otterstad
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