Re-thinking science teaching and learning as bodily-affective intra-action
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In this study, I used a Foucauldian power/knowledge reading of the construction of subjectivities and practices of two veteran women science teachers and examined how they negotiated competing discourses to produce learning opportunities for their “English language learner” students within and against accountability and achievement structures of public schooling. The data collection for this study was based on case-study methods such as interviewing, fieldwork, classroom observation, and artifact and document collections. I used feminist readings of new materialism and diffractive methods of analysis, along with discourse analysis. My findings showed that through instructional and pedagogical decisions about material entities, modes of engagement, language processes, and physical objects to include and exclude in the construction of science classroom events, science teachers played an important role in providing different affordances for students’ bodily and affective engagement and self-identifications with science practices. Bringing forth and making body and affect visible in my data, allowed me to re-think the normative discourses and assessments in science education that separated the body from the mind. Considering how different material entities produced different kinds of bodily performances and subjectivities for students have important implications in understanding inclusive science practices not only as lodged in students’ “abilities”, but also made possible through different physical and objective entities that students engage with. Although, I set out to look explicitly at English language learners and middle school science teachers, along the way, I realized that much of what I have found applies in much broader contexts of science education. Considering science classrooms as spaces where bodily encounters of students with objects of science learning have an affective emergent quality on students’ bodies, lingua, and science learning, is an important step forward. The significance of this study is that it unpacks the tensions that characterize science teaching in general, and teaching science to English language learners in particular, under the context of school accountability and achievement, and provokes to theorize science learning as bodily-affective intra-action.