This chapter explores the mattering of science and art creativities for future-making education through the transnational project Naming the world: Enhancing early years literacy and sustainability learning. Set in the context of the new geological age of the Anthropocene, the project was informed by posthuman and new materialist theorising, and the proliferation of ways these have been applied in early years learning. It is based on the belief that children of the Anthropocene will grow into a different future than the one we now know, so we need to learn with them and from them, in their everyday worlds. Through researching in collaboration with these children Naming the world seeks new ways of being, knowing and doing, and emergent creative pedagogies for future-making education. It troubles power politics and policy by transforming the power dynamics between university and practitioner researchers and through engaging with young children as a source of knowledge production and decision making.
The project was implemented in two phases: in the first phase university researchers collaborated with young children (0–5 years), through a process of deep hanging out. In the second phase children and educator researchers developed creative pedagogies in response. The chapter outlines the methodological and theoretical underpinnings of Phase 1, in “posthuman” and “new materialist approaches”, and Despret’s “curious practice”. The difficult transition in between is explored as a liminal space of unknowing, a necessary space to enable transformative practices to emerge. The chapter also explores the emergent creative pedagogies that came into being through one of the projects from Phase 2: What can we see outside? (Becoming Bird Project). Through this project, new configurings emerged when Australian Indigenous eco-philosophies came into play, emphasising the necessity of emergence from unknowing for future-making education.
The world is willed and wild, as are human contributions to it. Scientific and artistic practices are imbued with both dimensions in somewhat different ways. A dominant trend in the evolution of science has been to resist the wildness inherent in human and natural processes. But assuming things are or should be orderly is a hopeless and destructive premise. It often leads to increasingly forceful attempts to control, followed by ever wilder side effects. Science education is destined to serve destructive ends until its practitioners better understand and interrogate the relationship between these two very different, yet complementary, aspects of scientific knowledge and practice. On the other hand, some art forms invite a more integrated experience, appreciation and participation. As such, art holds important ontological, epistemological and ethical lessons for sustainable science education. This chapter explores how dialogue with art can help science educators uncover some of these lessons and foster more graceful complementarity between our will for order and our response to chaos.
This chapter explores the entanglement of research and practice, offering an account of science|arts practice in which research-driven “features of creative pedagogy” were used within an action research project to engage young people with the problem of ocean plastics. Thinking with Barad’s theory of agential realism, we explore the ongoing emergence of new matter and meaning for the young people, teachers and researchers engaged in this transdisciplinary practice-research.
One component of a large H2020-funded project exploring creativity in science/arts transdisciplinary practices across Europe was a study of action research in six UK secondary schools with science/art teacher pairs. This chapter draws on research conducted within one school in which the issue of plastics in the ocean was explored with 52 students aged 14–15 within an “arts-science project”, to develop the young people’s ideas about environmental responsibility understood, explored and expressed together through science and art.
An approach to researching emergent and creative pedagogies which brings agency to the fore within a material-dialogic, intra-active understanding of (post)human creativity was used. Data gathered through mixed methods, including questionnaires, interviews and photographs, and selected via “glow moment” assemblages, were analysed with and through theory using diffractive analysis to iteratively unfold data, theory, research and practice. This stance embodies a material-dialogic approach, with research, theory and “data” in dialogue.
In the chapter, a sequence of diffractions is described, responding to initial questions posed by the book editors: “When/where/how do objects/subjects of inquiry, and embodiment, come to matter in STEAM (re-)configurings in practice?” These diffractions unfold the emergence of matter and meaning through intra-active material dialogue in a science|art practice, raising questions from/for practice about the concept of ethics, trusteeship and responsibility in environmental education.
Confronted with the multiplicity of environmental and social issues which are exploding around the globe, ideas and practices of scientific research have come under scrutiny. While the complexity of current problems is defying conventional, reductionist approaches, new readings of science and technology are emphasising the embodied and situated nature of knowledge, with greater attention to disciplinary integration, multi-modal communication and dialogue amongst different perspectives. This chapter positions STEAM at the intersection between competing and complementary discourses in science and technology, the descriptive and the performative, operating as part of an extended ecology of material, affective and cognitive relationships.
Adopting a relational and posthumanist ontology, the chapter will discuss scientific and artistic creativities as emerging at the intersection between mind and nature, and thus integral to the ways in which as individuals we “attend to” the world. This position foregrounds ‘aesthetic perception’ – the ‘A’ in STEAM – as a prime form of knowing, entangled with the lives of others, humans and non-humans, and recovers the ethical dimension in science and technology education. Drawing on the experience from a course in science education involving prospective primary teachers, the chapter will illustrate the pedagogical tenets of this approach and its implications for educating to act in a world in ongoing transformation.
This chapter draws upon Arne Naess and Ronald Hepburn to think through some limitations of approaching environment and sustainability education via knowledge from science and technology alone. Naess thought that ecologists instinctively understood what many others struggle to – that the equal right to live and blossom is a normative value that should be granted to all living things and not just humans. Nonetheless, Naess held that ecology is a limited science. It is limited because scientific methods can generate descriptive facts about the world but not values to guide action in the world. For the formation of personal ecological values that guide action, or what Naess calls an “ecosophy”, systematic philosophical thinking about self-realisation and nature is needed. Those who develop their own “ecosophies” recognise that human and non-human life are intrinsically interconnected and that, as such, all of life suffers when humans think and act as if they are not interconnected. Hepburn also saw serious limits to scientific knowledge. For Hepburn, scientific method requires the stripping away of all the embodied experiences that make people human. This chapter argues that from Hepburn and Naess we can learn that a balanced education is not confined to inculcating scientific knowledge or skills. Instead it also involves the exploration of ecological values as well as serious aesthetic appreciation. The chapter concludes by discussing how Ciro Guerra’s film Embrace of the Serpent might be educational. It is claimed that the film offers viewers an opportunity to think about human–environment relations in alternative and more ecophilosophically fruitful and aesthetically serious ways. Embrace of the Serpent illustrates how and why arts and especially film-based educational interventions can come to matter.
Mathematics and science education are still strongly based on the concept of mind–body dualism, in which mind and body are viewed as separate entities. Learning mathematics is most often regarded as a solely intellectual activity, which involves only the brain. The “Maths in Motion” modules described in this chapter were collaboratively written and field tested by experts in dance/movement, educational researchers and mathematics education researchers. neuropsychological research has shown that physical activity correlates positively with cognitive skills. This chapter describes six activities, linking them to theories of multiple intelligences, multiple creativities and multiple embodiment. Each activity presents STEAM-integrated mathematics educational practices, which highlight methods of “embodying” mathematical concepts through physicality and kinaesthetic engagement, imagination and creativity. Our goal is to present outlines of these multidisciplinary and multisensory learning programs, which open up new dimensions for students, teachers and parents by offering the simultaneous experience of structural, spatial, rhythmic and symbolic dimensions of mathematics through body movement. The main body of this chapter describes these modules and some of the theoretical underpinnings of their creation. They represent the results of an international Erasmus+ educational project, called “Maths in Motion”.