Knowing schooling, Identity and pedagogy visually

Year: 2008

Author: Agbenyega, Joseph, Deppelery, Joanne, Moss, Julianne

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This research produced in one region in Ghana examines the production of educational practices, relations of power and student experiences within teaching and non-teaching spaces in junior secondary settings. The strength of the visual approach in interrogating school cultural norms and the problematising of the tangled complexities of knowing about schooling, identity and pedagogy are outlined. An important aspect of the study is the foregrounding of educational practice as a social act occurring in response to historical circumstances and changing social contexts. We see this work as an important step towards democratization of the research relationship and empowerment of students to contribute to the way they are educated. But also we are wary of how representation through visual methods also can 'frame' participants and the researchers. We recognise that one way to uncover how school practices are exemplified in Ghana is to put students in the middle of researching their experiences. In this way, our research moved from constructing students as simply consumers of adult designed and managed products to practices based on democratic participation. Throughout the research journey we were guided by the fact that knowledge is not neutral or to be discovered. Culture and communicative processes are essential determinants of reality. In this study the students as researchers, produced photographs that trigger dialectical conversations of students' perspectives that foreground their experiences at school. This enabled us to digress from dominant positivistic empiricism to a more legitimate ethical practice, and understanding of the intricacies of educational practice, the norms and structures that underpin everyday actions in schools.