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The Language of Education

Key Terms and Concepts in Teaching and Learning

The Language of Education: Key Terms and Concepts in Teaching and Learning is a series of short handbooks each of which focuses on the special language inherent in a variety of educational disciplines. Those entering graduate programs, scholars from non-English speaking areas, teachers with interests in accessing the academic literature, and even those wishing to explore outside their discipline should find something of interest in these books. In short, these books support shared understanding by assisting all of those working with a particular discipline to share a common vocabulary and foster effective communication.

The featured terms in each volume have been selected for their relevance and their potential to be defined uniquely in a particular educational field. The key terms are discussed on one page with a short introductory definition for quick reference followed by a longer expanded discussion supported by references. The index in each book includes links to encourage readers to explore related terms and concepts and thus gain additional information and context. Those who are new to the academic language of a particular educational area, may find it useful to read the books in this series as if each were a collection of very short stories introducing that discipline.

Engaging Learners with Semiotics

Lessons Learned from Reading the Signs

Ruth Gannon-Cook and Kathryn Ley

Semiotics has explained the cognitive mechanisms of a complex, subtle and important phenomenon affecting all human interactions and communications across socio-cultural, socio-economic groups. Semiotics has captured a durable and enriching functionality from multiple disciplines including psychology, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, marketing and their multidisciplinary off-spring, such as, educational psychology, consumer psychology, visual literacy, media studies, etc. Semiotic treatises have explored critical factors affecting the relationship between any intended message and the message recipient’s interpretation. The factors that shape interpretation inherently affect learning and often directly affect learner engagement with the content. Learning environments have been culturally-laden communication experiences which academics, largely segmented by discipline, have described but often cloaked in semiotic jargon.

Each chapter integrates example after example of semiotics in everyday activities and events, such as stories, graphics, movies, games, infographics, and educational strategies. The chapters also present the most salient semiotic features for learning environments. The book describes semiotics as a communications phenomenon with practical implications for educators to enhance courses and programs with semiotic features in any educational environment but especially in mediated e-learning environments.

Edited by Bernard W. Andrews

Arts education research has increased significantly since the beginning of the new millennium. This peer-reviewed book, the first of two volumes, captures some of the exciting developments in Canada. There is geographical diversity represented from across this large country, as well as theoretical and methodological diversity in the chapters. There is also a sense of togetherness with those, and other, diversities. There are calls to action and calls to play. We hear voices of artists, researchers, and artist researchers. The life histories of others, and of the self, are presented. Perspectives on Arts Education Research in Canada, Volume 1: Surveying the Landscape provides a wide spectrum of current research by members of the Arts Researchers and Teachers Society (ARTS)/La societé des chercheurs et des enseignants des arts (SCEA), a Special Interest Group (SIG) within the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies (CACS), which is in turn, is a constituent association of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE).

Contributors are: Bernard W. Andrews, Julia Brook, Susan Catlin, Genevieve Cloutier, Yoriko Gillard, Kate Greenway, Michael Hayes, Nané Jordan, Sajani (Jinny) Menon, Catrina Migliore, Kathryn Ricketts, Pauline Sameshima, and Sean Wiebe.

Genevieve Cloutier

Abstract

This chapter examines some of the literature regarding how arts-based methods are being employed in interdisciplinary contexts, including geography, health care humanities, women’s studies and aboriginal studies, among others. Here, the literature demonstrates that arts-based methods often reveal transformational results (Freire, 1970; Greene, 1995). At the same time, the literature shows that researchers outside of the arts who employ arts-based methods are often doing so to engage research participants and that many researchers feel uncertain about their abilities to conduct arts-based research (Jones, 2014). In other words, they are not making art themselves. This generates questions and points to a gap in the literature. What would transpire if more researchers outside of the arts had support to make art in, with and about their respective fields? With this query, I propose a call to action to work with researchers outside of the arts to open up spaces of arts-based possibilities. Opportunities to re-imagine approaches to knowing and coming to know are countless.

Julia Brook and Susan Catlin

Abstract

In Northern Canadian communities few, if any, formal arts education programs have been available, although art has always been an important part of northern cultures. Many northern Indigenous people have used and use their artistic abilities to support subsistence lifestyles. Research is, therefore, needed to understand how Indigenous people in Northern Canada develop their artistic abilities. We contend that understandings about arts education in Canada can be enhanced by these investigations.

We conducted life-history interviews with five Indigenous artists who grew up in small communities in the Northwest Territories. We used personhood theory (Cajete, 2016; Martin, Sugarman, & Hickinbottom, 2010) as a conceptual framework to illuminate how the artists were influenced and how they extended into and connected with the possibilities for being artists in their life-world. All of the artists in the study were recognized for their artistic abilities or sensibilities in their early years by family, friends, teachers, elders or leaders, and all the artists recognized their interest, identity and ability in themselves. The making of art for these artists was an intermingling of traditional and contemporary ideas and practices. While the particular art forms may not have been part of the traditions of their upbringing, they have used sculpting and painting, for example, as a new way to contribute to their Indigenous community and make their way in contemporary non-Indigenous culture. Our findings illuminate possibilities for arts education construed as intentional, connected support for young people as the artistic aspects of their personhood unfolds within a relational world.

Kathryn Ricketts

Abstract

I explore spectatorship and the culturally-inscripted body within our ever-growing world of fluid borders and hybrid identities. My work challenges traditional learning paradigms, inviting personal and fractured narratives as a catalyst to examine the notion of self and other within an autobiographical and collective storying process. Fusing my art practice and research, I have created research characters which I have inhabited performatively for 10 years. These characters tell stories of others through dance/theatre improvisations, and with a variety of costumes and physical traits, they move through unchartered landscapes of potent metaphors creating ecosystem of meaning-making whereby the character becomes a mere catalyst opposed to central subject. As a result, the performer surrenders to a process of collective creation and interpretation removing the individuated authority to the event. The power of absolute narratives recedes and what is replaced is what Merleau-Ponty (as cited in McCann, 1993) calls a co-mingling of readings and meanings resulting in a collective space of reciprocity and deep listening. My interest is to find imaginative, playful ways of generating catalysts for new understandings of sometimes-difficult information such as isolation or detachment.

Nané Jordan

Abstract

Life writing is a qualitative, arts-based educational inquiry method and practice that explores lived stories through the artful craft of writing. Life writers are encouraged to tell their own stories and to listen to others’ through empathetic, relational inquiries. The craft of story-sharing can promote greater self-awareness and understanding by paying close attention to what matters in our daily lives. My chapter unfolds from the field of life writing by walking with inner and outer footsteps of my research travels and experiences. I engage in non-fiction creative writing and reflection on questions of the heart, particularly on the lived meanings and impacts of mothering, family and home-making in my life.

Kate Greenway

Abstract

How does arts-based research contribute not only to academic knowledge, but to empathy, imagination and community making? As an arts educator and researcher I have naturally employed artistic methodologies at the centre of my work. In The brooch of Bergen Belsen: A journey of historiographic poiesis, I explore a single aesthetic experience, an encounter with a small hand-made floral cloth brooch donated to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. At the start of my inquiry I had only the object – the brooch itself – my emotional reaction to it, and the few lines of text on a curated museum card. I wondered, how do we create “spaces for remembrance,” and what are the implications for teaching, learning and living in a just society? In my later dissertation Ephemera: The searchings of an adopted daughter, I examine the wound that comes from being an adoptee in the era of secrecy and closed records. I argue that the absence of adoptive representation in public consciousness can be addressed by the artistic re-visioning of adoption, to give voice to unheard/untold stories.

In both projects, the finding and making of art and the non-traditional research trajectory which spans disciplines moves beyond the theoretical, and it employs elements of poetry and imaginative fiction, auto-ethnography and a/r/tography which creates a rich and layered examination. Arts-based research methodologies have allowed me to merge the scholar and artist, to engage in research as an iterative process where deeper questions engender more complex and embodied responses, and create open, dialogic texts and artworks that provoke new understandings of narratives previously overlooked.

Pauline Sameshima, Sean Wiebe and Michael T. Hayes

Abstract

The arrival of post-qualitative arts methodologies is unsurprisingly a critique of the metanarratives that have reduced the complexity of methodology to the instrumentalism of the methodical. Locating their work in the theoretically innovative post-qualitative, the authors affirm imagination as method. They detail how in the creative moment(s) of making there is not only a positive entanglement of the researchers’ relational constructions of knowing, knowledge, the self, and the world; but also a recognition of moral obligation. Because the content of what is imagined is both within and beyond shared perceptions, imagination as method can be detailed and precise; it can be coherent, informative, convincing, even compelling action, but it is always imaginative – and this is its promise for post-qualitative research. The authors suggest that a politics of the imagination turns away from the source of contention to generate new networks and systems of social relationships: it is not a resistance but a making. As a political imagination, research is the generative poiesis that emerges through and within specific acts of creation and generation. An example of a collaborative poetry writing practice is used to demonstrate imagination as method and to fractal the notions of value-creation, meaning-making, and imaginative play within the Canadian arts education research context.

Yoriko Gillard

Abstract

I believe in art as life, and creativity as a life work; I have been living creatively to communicate with people. How can we understand each other through art and its practice? This question has taken me to many places in the past and has sparked my research. As I am an immigrant, student, teacher, researcher, poet, and visual artist, my role and way of connecting with society is to keep asking myself, “How can I relate myself to the hardships, pain, struggles, and grief of others to gain their trust?” Since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, I have become more aware of the responsibilities I have to serve society and what I am capable of. Creating events to gather people from different cultures and backgrounds to think about life is part of my research practice. In 2015, the two major earthquakes hit Nepal and my colleague was asking for help through intercampus email. Recognizing the scale of this disaster, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to help a local community that I knew was grieving the loss of life and culture. We then started our dialogues to help heal their grief. In July 2015, we organized five fundraising educational events to support immigrants of Nepal in B.C. to raise awareness of the effect of the tragic events. At these events, KIZUNA 1 : Gather for Nepal, we cried, talked, hugged, sang, danced, and prayed together. There were mothers, children, students, teachers, musicians, artists, and poets all gathered to share their feelings at the events.