Imagining social justice
This paper examines how creativity and the arts can assist teachers who teach from a social justice perspective, and how knowledge built through meaningful experiences of difference can make a difference. Just as imagining is central to visual arts practice, so too the capacity to imagine is a necessity for social justice. The authors ask what art can do, and how art can work, to bring about greater understandings and practices around social justice and the early years. A ‘recognitive justice’ (Fraser, 1997, 2000; Cazden, 2012) requires the capacity to be sensitive to the multiple voices that need to be heard, and the ability to imagine how lives might be lived differently. The arts can provide powerful means for thinking social justice, and the experiences described in this paper can have application in addressing social justice in the professional preparation of prospective teachers. Three teacher educators who teach from a social justice perspective apply a collective biography methodology to their stories of art activity. Data were collected from three sites: transcripts, notes and digital images from a salon evening; ethnographic observations, field notes and artefacts from a school classroom; and a/r/tographic data generated in a university art classroom. Data were analysed using Foucault and the conceptual work of other post-structuralist philosophies, to explore how aesthetic and creative artistic activity could excite imaginations and open up multiple possibilities for richer forms of educational outcomes – for teacher educators, their students, and ultimately for young children.
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