19 SES 16, Ethnographic Accounts on Knowledge and its Conception Part 1
Symposium to be continued in 19 SES 17
Knowledge is a fundamental category in education: Teaching and learning are practices in which knowledge is shared, negotiated and linked, and personal development consists of practices in which knowledge is adapted. Ethnography provides excellent means to explore knowledge-related practices, because the methodology gives extensive time to participation in the field, and provides researchers with perspectives to participate in these practices and observe them. Participation and observation in ethnography are effective in “providing descriptive detail and ensuring accuracy” with respect to naturally occurring settings (Hammersley 2017, 10), and this accuracy is key when crafting narratives on the field, its characteristics, and processes in which events took place. In contrast to other methodologies, ethnography creates a contact space between the participant and the researcher, where the participant can share experiences and illustrate orientations, and where the researcher can become familiar with the culture of the field and the knowledge in which it is negotiated. Knowledge is a common frame used in ethnography, and based on this observation, we want to engage in a debate on the notion. In this engagement, we want to address three central questions:
- What are our approaches to understand knowledge and what research focus do these perspectives provide us with?
- What do our theoretical lenses contribute to understanding knowledge in education?
- What accounts on knowledge do we create in the current context of policy and educational reform?
Through the three questions, we explore how our conceptions of knowledge informs our ethnographies. Knowledge is a complex notion, and the term may refer to a range of practices of construction, adaptation, or performance (Cain, Wieser & Livingston 2016): Firstly, knowledge may refer to professional development, a process that requires knowledge to be shared with the aim to spread expertise amongst a group of professionals. This process is currently framed by educational policies which subject teachers to a logic of performativity. From a critical perspective, such policy requests teachers to become neoliberal professionals. This request and its origin in educational policy today requires researchers to investigate into two fields:
Firstly, the field of skillfulness, how it can be presented in research, and what is indicative for skilled. Ethnography sustains a situated understanding of how learning is taking place, it attends closely to skillfulness required for educational work, and the contexts in which these skills appear. This situated understanding enables us to understand how knowledge is enacted, how it is ignored, and learning. It also enables us to understand how knowledge is adapted with respect to contextual challenges, and how this adaptation is achieved through reflection and recollection of experiences. Furthermore, our ethnographic situated understanding of knowledge is grounded in the close interaction between researchers and participants while the research process unfolds. This grounding enables thick descriptions, and allows participants to be actively involved in the analysis in order to arrive at catalytic validity.
Secondly, the field of knowledge production in ethnographic research and how we can produce knowledge that is genuinely valuable for professionals in education. Knowledge production is strongly framed by the methods in which it is conducted. From an ethnographic perspective, this frame refers to the ever-expanding notion of an ethnographic site, the discussion on analogue and virtual sites and their intra-action, and the multimodal nature of information and research evidences. These frames themselves are linked to epistemological turns in research such as new empiricism and new materialism, turns which we evaluate from an ethnographic perspective.
Both of these fields address knowledge-related practices, and the symposium is dedicated to an exploration of these practices from ethnographic perspectives, in order to share and elaborate educational research on knowledge.
Cain, Tim, Wieser, Clemens, & Livingston, Kay (2016). Mobilising research knowledge for teaching and teacher education. European Journal of Teacher Education. 39(5), 529-533. Hammersley, Martyn (2017). What is ethnography? Can it survive? Should it?, Ethnography and Education, 13(1), 1-1-17.
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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