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Science Education as a Material Issue?

Exploring the Role of Materiality in Science Education through the Lens of Baradian Theory

Series:

Colin Hennessy Elliott, Shruti Krishnamoorthy, Catherine Milne and Kathryn Scantlebury

Abstract

In what ways can human-matter intra-action as a teaching lens frame science-teaching learning in the classroom?

Applying Karen Barad’s post humanist theory, we explore how techno-scientific practices allow us to investigate the rich context of education in the making. Such perspectives lead us to argue for a focus on how material-discursive practice emerge through the intra-activity between human and matter agents as a source of locally intelligible phenomena. Traditional humanist models of teaching and learning locate agential responsibility in a specific human agent, which serves to separate the world of education into dichotomies: the teacher from the taught, the knower from the known, the self from other, and the object from the subject. Baradian theory challenges us to focus instead on intra-actions, which do not assume pre-existing object agents but accepts that it is through specific intra-actions that phenomena in all their complexity emerge. We must work from the perspective that agential responsibility, which constitutes responsibly embodied engagement in a material world, and recognize that there are consequences, possibilities, and responsibilities for intra-actions. Drawing on examples from co-teaching, self-assessment and emergent classroom practice, we use Barad’s theory, specifically her notions of agential realism, diffraction and entanglement, to propose models of practice that make intra-actions the focus with the goal of making learning more ethical, affective and inclusive.