Education Symposium Tackles ‘Objects, Things and Stuff in Educational Research’
UKZN’s School of Education recently hosted an International Research Symposium and Exhibition, titled: “Not Just an Object: Making Meaning of and from Everyday Objects in Educational Research”.
The Symposium was funded by the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) UK-South Africa Researcher Links Grant for Travel and Hosting of Scientific Events.
The interactive Symposium and Exhibition was the brainchild of education academics Dr Daisy Pillay, Dr Inbanathan Naicker and Dr Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan. The focus was on better understanding the personal and social meanings of everyday objects and the significance of this for educational research.
Keynote speakers at the event were Professor Claudia Mitchell of McGill University in the United Sates, and Professor Kate Pahl of Sheffield University in England, who hosted various interactive workshops and public seminars on making meaning of and from everyday objects in educational research.
Mitchell spoke on: “Object as Subject: Productive Entanglements in the Study of the Everyday in Educational Research”.
Building on work across a variety of disciplines that looks at objects, things and even ‘stuff’ and drawing on case studies where objects have been the subject of social inquiry, her talk sought to contribute to deepening an understanding of their significance to several approaches to participatory research, including autoethnographic studies in Higher Education.
Pahl examined: “Dialogic Objects: Material Knowledge as a Challenge to Educational Practice”, considering the potential objects have for unsettling academic boundaries and ways of knowing by exploring the qualities of objects as they travel across diasporic contexts, to come alive speaking in multiple languages and materialising new practices.
‘Everyday knowledge in communities is often hidden in the encounter with university knowledge structures,’ said Pahl. ‘Drawing on the idea of the ‘dialogic object’ from Bakhtin, objects can speak with two voices. Objects become things to think with, and the making of them materialises new ideas and enables boundaries to be crossed. The moving of objects across sites also de-centres relational boundaries, and communicational structures. The object comes alive in a new place, and sings with a new voice,’ explained Pahl.
The Symposium included a poster exhibition where participants presented visual images that are connected to an object or objects that are meaningful to their educational research.