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    An Arts Based Narrative Inquiry into Learning in an Early Childhood Education and Care Degree

    McGarrigle, John (2017) An Arts Based Narrative Inquiry into Learning in an Early Childhood Education and Care Degree. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Within a rhizomatic, arts-based narrative inquiry into my practice as a lecturer in a Third Level Institute of Technology I attempt to deterritorialise the pedagogical spaces of an Early Childhood degree. Inspired by Richardson and St. Pierre’s (2005) notion of writing as inquiry and Creative Arts Practices (CAP) Ethnography I experiment with poetry, art and film in order to find my research voice and move through the complexity of learning using the rhizome (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987). An epistemological dialogue with my past traces a movement away from the dominance of positivist psychology as I step gingerly into autoethnography. I position myself within emerging stories of learner, teacher and researcher and formulate a research project that explores learning and teaching in an Early Years degree in Ireland. Using the troublesome concept of intelligence in a first year psychology class a Learning Carnival is devised to transform the passive lecture space and mount a challenge to dominant psychometric traditions. A focus group allowed students to articulate the role of musical, kinaesthetic, linguistic and other ‘intelligences’ (Gardner, 1983) in the ways they learned and a film called ‘Practice and the Internet’ was made to playfully deconstruct some of the findings. Troublesome knowledge is better conceived as troubling knowledge embracing uncertainty in learning and promoting an active process over a static entity. Likewise intelligence as a noun already presupposes a measurable entity and limits the potential to conceive learning as active, open ended and consisting of various creative processes. Following a number of pioneers of arts based research and identity construction (Leitch, 2010; O’ Grady, 2012), a self-study method prompted students’ writing, portraits, masks and images to explore how they constructed their lives in their final year of a professional Early Childhood course. In collaboration with the students a short film called ‘A Murmuration of Early Childhood’ celebrated their artwork and collective poem ‘Imagine a Child’. An assemblage of research data allowed individual voices within a collective participant voice to merge with the academy and maintain their primacy in a powerful evocative performance text called ‘A Dawn Chorus’. In exposing the influences on the author’s researcher and learner identity the thesis performs a becoming-other and achieves a relative deterritorialization of the pedagogical spaces of teaching and learning (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987). In producing a challenge to dominant understandings of learning and intelligences the thesis makes a significant contribution to knowledge and scholarship through the use of arts-based narrative inquiry providing creative alternatives to teacher education in the Early Years. The autoethnographic lens highlights the complex political and social contexts that frame educational experiences and structure relationships between learners and educators and raises questions about the marginalisation and feminisation of childcare in Ireland. Of significance in this study are the ways that learners demonstrate their own agency within limited subject positions and the power of education to provide a route to exhibit and express a personal identity beyond that of mother, father, old, young, male, female, carer. Employing Arts-Based Narrative Inquiry, the thesis makes a significant contribution to knowledge through its focus on creative processes from conception to representation producing a piece of work that is polyphonic, dialogic and novel in the Bakhtinian sense (see Kim, 2016, pp. 72-76). To open up inquiry through creative media means going beyond the predictable and stepping into the unknown world of discovery where meaning emerges from the playful interactions between learners and educators – resonating with the notion of aesthetic play in narrative inquiry (Latta, 2013, in Kim, 2016, ps. 85 - 88). It is hoped that this work will join a burgeoning literature in narrative inquiry that empowers other educators to enter liminal moments of risk and improvise on a tune, take lines of flight and challenge modes of thinking that limit human experience.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Arts Based Narrative Inquiry; Learning; Early Childhood Education; Care Degree;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Education
    Item ID: 9070
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2017 17:09
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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