13 SES 13 A JS, New Materialism in STEM Education
Joint Symposium NW 13 and NW 27
Over the past 10 years or so, social constructionist ways of understanding learning and culture have received criticism for overlooking the role materials plays in a social world (Barad 2007, Ingold 2007, 2011, 2012, Taguchi 2009). Here, I want to draw attention to artefacts or objects as samples of material (Ingold 2012, p. 435) following also Ingold’s widely read essay on material culture 'Materials against Materiality' (2007). Ingold builds on Heidegger’s thinking (“The Thing”, Heidegger 1975), where the “thingly character of the thing does not consist in its being a represented object…” (1975, p.167). This means that things do not appear as a consequence of human making but rather, are the result of “gathering” (1975, 174) which promotes the idea of a responsive co-existence with materials (1975). Ingold (2012) points out that engagement with materials is about touching and observing, and ways of following its matter-flow. This notion is also picked up by Roehl (2015) in his analysis of objects in the science-mathematics classroom that are gathered and undergo transformations. In context, key to this argument is that artefacts or objects that are created and/or brought into the classroom are in states of fluxes, because their material attributes are processual and relational. In this presentation, I will illustrate this point through an example from an ethnographic investigation at a New Zealand primary school class that investigated and told the ‘story of a rock’ they found in a riverbed nearby their school. Found in situ, the rocks were photographed, measured, filmed, drawn, removed and taken to school, split open, compared to photos on the Internet, viewed under the microscope, shared through open platforms with the class, the teacher and the parents and discussed with geology students. At each point the rocks the students worked with were activated and underwent transformations through the students’ engagement. This engagement was shaped by a narrative of science including specific ways to prepare, experiment and attribute their rocks with a particular kind of language. The rocks were unfolded and transformed as scientific samples of materials where the students would “see it as a potential – for further making, growth, and transformation” (Ingold 2012, p.435). The rocks’ material components did not change in this process but their evolving lifeworlds were the result of subjective cycles of engagement and negotiations.
Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Duke University Press. Ingold, T. (2007). Lines. A brief history, 2. Ingold, T. (2011). Being alive: Essays on movement, knowledge and description. Taylor & Francis. Ingold, T. (2012). Toward an ecology of materials. Annual review of anthropology, 41, 427-442. Ingold, T. (2007). Lines: a brief history. Routledge. Röhl, T. (2015). Die Objektivierung der Dinge. Wissenspraktiken im mathematisch-naturwissenschaftlichen Schulunterricht/Objectifying Things. Epistemic Practices in Science Education. Zeitschrift für Soziologie, 44(3), 162-179.
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