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(Re-)Configuring STEAM for Future-Making Education
Why Science and Arts Creativities Matter is a ground-breaking text which significantly extends current understandings of STEAM and debates about individuation of disciplines vis-à-vis transdisciplinary theory. Drawing upon posthumanism, new materialism and enactivism, this collection of chapters aims to dwell further into the ways in which we come to know in relationship with the world. The text draws together a wide set of approaches and points of views to stimulate dialogue and awareness of the different ways in which we can extend the repertoire of human faculties for thinking and experiencing the world. A unique invitation is shared with readers to develop greater understanding of the contribution of education across the arts and sciences and to re-imagine our collective futures.

This book is a unique and timely volume that opens up several new lines of enquiry and arguments on STEAM education. It rebalances and readdresses the current emphasis in the literature around STEAM as another, newer opportunity to teach content. Instead, it brings a more specific focus on an entwining of contemporary theorists – putting theory to work – to extend the means for understanding and cultivating science and arts creativities, and make explicit key connections with the materiality of practices. This new go-to text offers a demonstration of how the latest research and theoretically engaged thinking (thinking through theory) on STEAM education can be put to work in practice.

Contributors are: Ramsey Affifi, Sofie Areljung, Chris Brownell, Pamela Burnard, Kerry Chappell, Laura Colucci-Gray, Carolyn Cooke, Kristóf Fenyvesi, Erik Fooladi, Cathy Francis, Lindsay Hetherington, Anna Hickey-Moody, Christine Horn, Tim Ingold, Riikka Kosola, Zsolt Lavicza, Elsa Lee, Saara Lehto, Danielle Lloyd, James Macallister, Caroline Maloney, Tessa Mcgavock, Karin Murris, Lena Nasiakou, Edvin Østergaard, Anne Pirrie, Hermione Ruck Keene, Ruth Sapsed, Diana Scherer, Pallawi Sinha, Margaret Somerville, Keiren Stephenson, Carine Steyn, Jan Van Boeckel, Nicola Walshe, Olivier Werner, Marissa Willcox, and Heather Wren.

Debates around authenticity within photographic discourse are persistent. Some have revolved around documentary photography, while other discussions focus on the ethical validity of digitally edited news photographs and indeed the photographic medium itself. This article proposes that discussions around ‘authenticity’ should be focused instead towards contextualising photography more appropriately within the creative practice of ‘making strange’. It acknowledges existing debates around photography and authenticity, before locating the discussion within creative practice. It then moves to a discussion, using Robert Capa’s ‘Falling Soldier’ (Capa, 1936) as a starting point, before drawing on examples from the author’s own creative and professional practice. In the process, the article argues that visual researchers embrace the challenges of making the familiar strange within photographic creative practices.

In: Video Journal of Education and Pedagogy

Although bees are separated from humans by about 600 million years with a common ancestor that had only a rudimentary nervous system, they still share over 60% of our Genome. Any commonly observed learning principles between bees and humans may be consequently either basal, or may have evolved in parallel due to their efficiency. While the universality of associative learning among the animal kingdom is well established, recent advances on honeybee’s cognition push further our understanding of shared mechanisms. Honeybees demonstrate the ability to prioritise information depending on context and the cost associated with making errors. Individual bees show evidence of having different heuristic approaches to solve complex tasks, and maintaining a diversity of cognitive strategies is also probably highly adaptive for group success. Bees can learn key numerosity abilities that humans acquire at school, such as the ability to add and subtract, understand the concept of zero and also how to link symbols with the specific numbers of items present. Such knowledge on bee cognitive-like processing serves as a source of inspiration for a better understanding of the biological roots of our intelligence, and may help shape educational theories or strategies to improve artificial intelligence efficiency.

In: Video Journal of Education and Pedagogy

As a filmmaker, the author felt the need to develop a deep connection with her subject, but was unsure how to do so with the Murray-Darling River. Initially, she saw the river as a system akin to what Pierre Bourdieu calls a field: forces external to the author acting upon each other. She felt that to connect with the river she needed to adjust her habitus (personal dispositions; way of being) to its field. This continued once the author returned to Melbourne, but through the medium of the images of the river. During the edit, she shifted from seeing the river as a field of external forces to seeing it as a habitus, a way of being. This was necessary for the river to become a character, rather than just a location.

In: Video Journal of Education and Pedagogy

In 2014, the government of Western Australia proposed a plan to defund, and in effect close, about half of the nearly three hundred remote Aboriginal communities in the state. During this time, the author collaborated on a hand sign video project with five women Elders at the Kapululangu Women’s Law and Culture Centre in Balgo, an Aboriginal community in the Great Sandy Desert. The author articulates why Marumpu Wangka! Kukatja Hand Talk—an unassuming and largely improvised video—struck a chord at this precarious moment for Aboriginal communities. The author argues that hand sign videos provide a rare mode of intercultural engagement that is simultaneously culturally specific and broadly relatable. In a mediascape in which most Australian viewers are inundated with visual tropes of Aboriginal communities as either suffering or mystical, representations of jovial gesture encourage understanding beyond these stereotypes by intimately engaging everyday community interaction. Referencing the supplemental eight-minute video throughout, the author (1) overviews the significance of hand sign systems in Aboriginal Australian communities, (2) describes the collaborative and improvised hand sign video production process, and (3) argues for the importance of visual representations that can transcend—even if modestly—settler/Indigenous divides during the current dangerous times for Aboriginal communities.

In: Video Journal of Education and Pedagogy

Memes are an increasingly prevalent means of communication in online spaces. Their influence is felt in the offline world as attitudes and dispositions traverse the postdigital membrane. The medium is emblematic of the democratic and participatory communities of the internet, yet there is evidence that they play a role in the well-documented political radicalisation that happens in online spaces. Semiotic concepts such as inter and intratextuality, and Peirce’s conception of habit provide a framework to understand how the language of memes is developed and transformed across a network.

In: Video Journal of Education and Pedagogy

Abstract

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.

In: Why Science and Art Creativities Matter

Abstract

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.

In: Why Science and Art Creativities Matter

Abstract

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.

In: Why Science and Art Creativities Matter

Abstract

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.

In: Why Science and Art Creativities Matter