20 SES 07 B, Making It Matter: Educational research's transformative potential - moving beyond ambivalence by reframing the production of ourselves and “The Other”'
In the midst of educational reform and ongoing change, socio-cultural constructions of education, children, the family, educators and educational researchers also evolve and morph, depending on context. This change impacts on how we position ourselves and how others are positioned.
How individuals, groups or communities are viewed, or positioned, is often seen through the lens of ambivalence whereby differences are more likely to be devalued than celebrated. From this perspective, ambivalence often functions to maximise uncertainty and suspicion in our interactions with others, and to allow full rein for unexamined prejudices and unquestioned stereotypes to dominate our thinking. By contrast, this symposium is predicated on challenging these prejudices and stereotypes, and on mobilising ambivalence productively by “thinking otherwise” about socio-cultural constructions of learners and of those who work with them. This more transformative approach to ambivalence is more likely to contribute to “making it matter” by reframing interactions between “ourselves and ‘the Other’”.
Furthermore, if we are considering educational reform, we need to consider that positional dimensions are pervasive and by their very nature directly and indirectly impact on all aspects of social systems, particularly those that are historically marginalised. These powerful and multiple narratives regarding our and others’ identities have the potential to: discriminate, silence or privilege the voices of others; impact on the agentic nature of others; and influence relationships with others (Bermúdez, Muruthi, & Jordan, 2016). These processes include a range of collective ideals, experiences, behaviours and ways of making meaning.
The innovative methods of inquiry that we adopt as educational researchers and the axiological perspectives in which our research is positioned have the potential to embrace diversity, and to honour individuals, their stories, their aspirations and their voices. We can choose to reject traditional educational research methods and counteract dominant ideology whereby others are often excluded, marginalised, silenced or reduced, instead seeking to engage in ethical and respectful processes and forms of inquiry that “hold researchers more accountable to the communities and people with whom they conduct research” (Milner, 2007, p. 389). This can become a place where we as educational researchers can be instrumental in evolving new paradigms and incorporating counter-narratives that include new interpretations of relationships and researching and engaging with “the Other”. That opens up new possibilities and positionalities regarding inclusivity and diversity, and in doing so our efforts may contribute to being a vehicle for empowerment and transformation.
More particularly, these aspirations are illustrated in terms of seven specific research projects traversing five countries. The research projects canvass incarcerated youth, young adolescents’ lives in the suburbs, parents and children in young families, fairground communities, migrant farmworkers, Romani and Traveller families, and students with disabilities. The national perspectives include Denmark, Ireland, England, the United States and Australia. In combination, the research projects address the following research questions:
- How do we conceptualise educational reform against the backdrop of constant change?
- What are the affordances and limitations of ambivalence in generating new approaches to educational reform?
- Which strategies are successful in helping researchers to reframe “ourselves and ‘the Other’” from the perspectives of educational reform and an enabling approach to socio-cultural ambivalence?
The symposium is framed theoretically by Lakoff’s (2004) seminal work on reframing, which provides robust conceptual tools for deconstructing existing systems of thought, and also for generating possible alternatives to those systems of thought. This focus on reframing affords new insights into longstanding theories of ambivalence (Bauman, 1991; Bhabha, 1994; Minnow, 1985), which in turn help to inform contemporary discourses related to educational reform. Together the symposium presentations shed new light on educational policy questions throughout Europe and internationally.
Bauman, Z. (1991). Modernity and ambivalence. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Bermúdez, J., Muruthi, B., & Jordan, L. (2016). Decolonizing research methods for family science: Creating space at the centre - decolonizing research practices. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 8(2), 192-206. Bhabha, H. K. (1994). The location of culture. London, UK: Routledge. Lakoff, G. (2004). Don't think of an elephant! Know your values and frame the debate. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing. Milner, H. R. (2007). Race, culture, and researcher positionality: Working through dangers seen, unseen, and unforeseen. Educational Researcher, 36(7), 388-400. Minnow, M. (1985). Learning to live with the dilemma of difference: Bilingual and special education. Law and Contemporary Problems, 48(2), 157-211.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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