20 SES 07 B, Making It Matter: Educational research's transformative potential - moving beyond ambivalence by reframing the production of ourselves and “The Other”'
From a social constructivist perspective, it is appreciated that we are all products of the world in which we are located, and that meaning-making is embedded in context and dependent upon collaboration with others (Davidson & Tolich, 1999). This includes the filters through which we see the world and others, and the paradigms in which we choose to work and research (Dockett et al., 2009). Yet, in terms of reframing, one could question whether it is possible for educational researchers to challenge well-established paradigms and the ways that we and others are positioned. Further, one could question whether it is naïve or ambitious to view the potentiality that new constructions of “the Other” may have in maximising respectful dialogic opportunities and contributing to equitable educational reform, particularly engaging with those who have historically been marginalised or those, such as young children, whose voices are typically silenced in decision-making processes on matters that affect them (Bermúdez, Muruthi, & Jordan, 2016). These questions are particularly timely given the growing ambivalence with which learners, educators, researchers and other stakeholders perceive national and international efforts to implement educational reform. In this presentation two Australian researchers investigate this topic based on their associated research areas and doctoral studies, which include children and young families (Brown, 2012) and the educational experiences of the children of occupationally mobile fairground communities (Danaher, 2001). The presenters explore the existing paradigms in which research participants are currently positioned. They then illustrate key discourses, evolving paradigms, counter-narratives and practical frames, such as adopting a strengths-based/rights-based axiology and viewing others as agentic, that attempt to decentre dominant discourses (Fenton, Walsh, Wong, & Cumming, 2015;). Finally, the presenters explore how reframing and generating alternative systems of thought regarding “the Other” (Lakoff, 2004) in educational research, such as adopting decolonising epistemologies and methodologies that promote the inclusion of the voices of others, have the potential to be transformative in terms of rethinking the privileging of “voice”, inclusive involvement and the contributions of others in decision-making as an integral part of the co-construction of educational reform agendas. More broadly, the presentation is intended to highlight the ambivalent power of educational research in shifting dominant discourses, by illustrating how educational research can be complicit in replicating such discourses and yet how by contrast educational researchers can lead a radical rethinking of the inclusion of “the Others’ voices” in educational reform agendas.
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. Brown, A. (2012). The new frontier: A social ecological exploration of factors impacting on parental support for the active play of young children within the micro-environment of the family home. Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Qld, Australia. Danaher, P. A. (2001). Learning on the run: Traveller education for itinerant show children in coastal and western Queensland. Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Qld, Australia. Davidson, C., & Tolich, M. (1999). Social science research in New Zealand: Many paths to understanding. Auckland: Pearson Education. Dockett, S., Perry, B., Kearney, E., Hamshire, A., Mason, J., & Schmied, V. (2009). Researching with families: Ethical issues and situations. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 10(4), 353-365. Fenton, A., Walsh, K., Wong, S., & Cumming, T. (2015). Using strengths-based approaches in early years practice and research. International Journal of Early Childhood, 47(1), 27-52. Lakoff, G. (2004). Don't think of an elephant! Know your values and frame the debate: The essential guide for progressives. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.
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