My research has been into the curricula of everyday life, and has analyzed how the components of the everyday contain within them constraints and possibilities that influence action. I have specifically looked at the construction of: spiritualities and rationalities (“Living Hymns and Iterations” in Qualitative Inquiry), realities (“Creating the Real” in Curriculum Inquiry), memories, places, bodies, objects, and spaces (see below for those topics). My backgrounds in post-structuralism, architecture and education have translated well into emerging new materialist directions within curriculum studies and social science fields.
My book Living the Questions, just recently published as part of the Information Age Publishing Landscapes of Education Book Series, looks at the curricula of everyday life and explores living as a form of inquiry in itself. In a letter of recommendation, curriculum scholar Patrick Roberts noted of a pre-press version that it “represents an innovative contribution to the field of curriculum studies… [and] pushes the boundaries of qualitative research and generatively engages assumptions about curriculum, teaching, and learning.” In addition, well-known curriculum scholar Bill Schubert, a recipient of the AERA Curriculum Studies Lifetime Achievement Award, writes, in a letter of recommendation, about a pre-press version that:
By investigating the curriculum of the everyday, he depicts how nearly all aspects of living a life are learned. By exploring different contexts, he finds education inherent in all reaches of social life, far beyond the confines of the school walls. …He probes more deeply than simply addressing the questions, since they are acknowledged as being embodied within him. This is a cutting edge leap in inquiry in my estimation.
A chapter of that book looks at the performative aspects of home movies in my extended family. Similarly, “Through the Lens: Family Videos, Adoption Stories, and Instrumental Truths,” under review for the book edited by Robin Fox, Adoption Matters: Teacher Educators Share their Stories and Strategies for Adoption-Inclusive Curriculum and Pedagogy, to be published by Peter Lang, looks at how my home videos and my immediate family members work to construct the curricula of family.
Furthering this line of research into the curricula of everyday life, I have explored the curricula of everyday objects. My article, “Sealy Springs,” published in Qualitative Inquiry, is a fictional short story, inspired by the work of Borges, Latour, and Deleuze and Guattari, that explores the intersection of use and representation, as well as the personal and the public, within a network of mass-produced objects in everyday society (e.g. mattresses). My poetic inquiry, “Object Lesson,” published in the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, explores the curricula involved in a simple, common object – the chair. A reviewer noted of “Object Lesson” that it “seems like a guerilla attack on the anthropocentrism of curriculum studies, a dramatic and unanticipated swerve away from the idea that education and curriculum are ‘about’ humans doing things in rooms.”
Another aspect of the curricula of everyday life I have explored is the curricula of everyday spaces. “Here, We Are Never Here,” published in Qualitative Inquiry, analyzes the curricula of the built environment of a train stop, revealing that the main architectural message is to pass on through the space even as the function is one of waiting. “Renovating body and space” in Qualitative Inquiry looks at the curricula of personal space surrounding the body. “Conference Space” in the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, poetically and critically examines the curricula of a room in an academic conference. Another poetic inquiry piece, “Spaces”, in press at the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, theorizes new ways to think of the curricula of space as multiple. “Paper Presentation: Reconfiguring Objects, Reconfiguring Meanings,” in press at the International Journal of Education through Art, invites the reader to change the meaning of the writing through various activities (shuffling, folding, cutting) with the physical piece of paper on which the article is printed. In this way, the reader explores intersection of meaning and object (the “material-discursive” as Barad calls it).
Because as a researcher I am embedded within the everyday contexts and curricula that I research, an important component of my work is to account for the performative aspects, the theory and actions, of my research. While I attempt to construct methods that make sense for all of my writing, sometimes this concern for finding a method has become a subject in itself. I have explored the effects of author and reader, presenter and audience. For example, my article, “Forsaking,” published in Cultural Studies – Critical Methodologies, explores what it is to be a writer, and how a writer might leave room for the reader to also be a creator. In “Acting on Embodiment(s) Here and Now, Within This Very Poster Session,” my co-authors and I, along with participants, perfomatively re-constructed the rules and space of a typical AERA poster session. My co-authors and I presented, “Embody Modification: A Readers’ Rebellion” at AERA 2015 in Chicago. With participants, we creatively investigated how the experience of being a reader is constructed, and how this experience might be constructed in alternate ways. We cut, folded, marked out, and collaged copies of the AERA Journal. A write-up of this experience, including contributions from many of the participants, is currently under review at the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy. For the AERA 2015 Division B Program Chair Session, I suggested and helped implement a more democratic, “flat” structure where people informally talked with presenters based on a menu, “Curriculum Diaspora”. I organized a symposium for AERA 2016 that looks at the experiences of being a conference attendee entitled, “Opening the Session: An Audience Rebellion.”
Of course, I am hardly the first to look into the intersections of living and learning, theory and practice. My chapter, “Integrated, Holistic, and Core Subject Matters,” for The Sage Guide to Curriculum in Education, outlines the topics, concerns, context, theory, forms and modes involved in core, integrated, and holistic curriculum. Drawing on the history of these curriculum strands, the chapter describes how a “living” core curriculum is one that emerges from student experiences and concerns.
More recently, I invented a “new” way of making images with a handheld document scanner and explored how these images allow us to experience time differently, in “Deleuze, Bergson, and a Document Scanner: Investigating Duration and Perception” in Qualitative Inquiry. Like “Paper Presentation” and “A Reader’s Rebellion” referenced above, the research represents an intervention into the curricula of everyday life itself. It is this type of performative inquiry into the curricula of everyday life that I will continue to pursue. My current and future projects look for ways to intervene in the habits of daily existence and to awaken us to the unexpected and unforeseen possibilities of unconventional answers to the curriculum question: How to live? Through the creation of artistic interventions in daily life, alternative modes of living are opened up, alternative curricula are explored, and alternative ways of learning are investigated. These interventions are both informed by theory, and also further inform theory. It is not enough to just read, write, and think; it is also necessary to actually intervene in order to experience new modes and then to further work from these new vantage points. Some interventions that I have begun to preliminarily explore are the creation of everyday placards (museum-like art placards that are placed in everyday contexts to awaken the viewer to the importance of the present place), pathways (paths that must be experienced in order to be followed, thus emphasizing the primacy of the present experience), participant photography (as the heightened awareness of taking a picture makes one more aware of the present moment), and postmodern meditations (where a focus is on the present as multiple and disjointed, but not the present as ultimate truth). In addition, I am interested in how we create curricula of living in spite of daily discontinuities like sleeping, forgetting, and getting lost. How are these stoppages bridged? What mechanisms are employed? What possibilities do they offer? The research described above will continue to move forward significant lines of inquiry into the curricula of the everyday. As I pursue these lines of research, I will continue to push my innovative approach to research methodology that often uses arts-based methods and that self-reflexively focuses on the effects of research that includes material-discursive practice as an ongoing result.
Note: All publications and presentations referenced above are listed on my included curriculum vitae.