A material-dialogic perspective on powerful knowledge and matter within a science classroom

Book chapter


Hardman, M., Riordan, J. and Hetherington, L. A material-dialogic perspective on powerful knowledge and matter within a science classroom. in: Hudson, B., Stolare, M., Gericke, N. and Olin-Scheller, C. (ed.) Powerful knowledge and epistemic quality across school subjects London Bloomsbury Academic.
AuthorsHardman, M., Riordan, J. and Hetherington, L.
EditorsHudson, B., Stolare, M., Gericke, N. and Olin-Scheller, C.
Abstract

“Powerful” disciplinary knowledge has the potential to enrich students’ lives by providing access to understanding beyond everyday experience (Young 2011). Learning science or any other school subject requires understanding of the core body of content within an academic discipline. However, contemporary discussion of disciplinary knowledge remains at the sociological level, offering little clarity around how such knowledge manifests in the complex and unique contexts in which people learn. The framing of powerful knowledge inherits a dualist philosophical assumption that a curriculum concept is a universal phenomenon, acquired through a myriad of activities and applied in new situations, but nevertheless something which is acquired (or not) (Hardman, 2019). The question then becomes how these universal concepts are acquired through the unique context of a specific classroom.

Gericke et al. (2018) begin to address this question by highlighting the transformations made as disciplinary knowledge is taught in schools. These transformations occur at the societal, institutional and classroom levels. The term ‘transformation’ is an umbrella term reflected in both the tradition of didactics, for example, ‘didactic transposition’ (Chevallard 2007), ‘omstilling’ (Ongstad 2006) and ‘reconstruction’ (Duit 2013), as well as within the curriculum tradition in Bernstein’s (1973) notion of ‘re-contextualization’. As well as considering transformations, the term epistemic quality moves us towards conceptualizing how classroom activities have differing qualities in conveying the epistemology of disciplines (Hudson, 2018). In this chapter, we focus on the classroom, and seek to address the overarching question of:
How can the transformation processes related to powerful knowledge and epistemic quality be described?

Our contention is that the notions of transformation and epistemic quality hold the potential to frame the ways in which disciplinary knowledge and epistemology manifest in the classroom. However, as these notions are being developed, in this book and elsewhere, we wish to guard against any simplistic framing whereby idealised disciplinary understandings are in some way represented in classrooms. In our view, a learner does not receive a reduced, simplified form of some universal understanding. Understanding of a subject discipline, in terms of both knowledge and the epistemology of the discipline, emerge from the dynamic, messy and material contexts of classrooms. In this chapter, we consider how a material-dialogic frame (Hetherington et al. 2018; Hetherington and Wegerif, 2018) might contribute to this discussion. We first briefly lay out the material-dialogic frame and our reasons for proposing it. After that, we use a case study of a science classroom to support the usefulness of the frame in considering transformations of disciplinary knowledge in classrooms.

KeywordsEducation; Science; Material-dialogic; Powerful knowledge; Matter
Book titlePowerful knowledge and epistemic quality across school subjects
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Output statusIn press
File
Place of publicationLondon
Publication process dates
Deposited08 Dec 2020
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/8ww68/a-material-dialogic-perspective-on-powerful-knowledge-and-matter-within-a-science-classroom

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