Using portraiture to script the voice

Year: 2008

Author: Robinson, Janean

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this paper, a creative yet scholarly process is employed in analysing students' lives as they share their experiences and understandings of the Western Australian Behaviour Management in Schools Policy (1998, 2001, and 2008). In adopting the metaphor of 'painting', a 'palette' is discovered, comprising a careful selection of 'paints' taken from field notes, student transcripts, journal jottings and vignettes of ethnographic data. In addition, a 'canvas' is stretched, consisting of the many sheets of paper, sketched and scribbled on forming a scaffold on which to hang the stories and experiences. Against this backdrop, the 'literature' assists in building the shape. The picture which emerges is then displayed in order to be appreciated, interpreted and understood because within it and no longer hidden are the various layers revealing the complexity of students' lives and histories within a large secondary school. These emergent scripts (portraits) serve to provide a counter-narrative to the official images and memories constructed for and on behalf of students themselves.

It was the voices that 'spoke' once again from the transcripts as I began to 'paint them into the picture'. I think of the paints as the starting point to (re)create pictures of the lived realities of students (Horton & Freire, 1990, p. 88). In the process I adopt the role of storyteller, 'painting' student interpretations of their various realities. It is the intention that the observer will discover the beauty and a "moment of pleasure" (Horton & Freire, 1990, p. 23) from these portraitures and in a small way move beyond the limitations of the written text in order to create a new vision.