How do children experience the embodied communication and leadership of teachers? Expressing the voices of children through artistic, sensual, and multimodal methods in educational research

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This article focuses on children’s lived experiences with teachers in school, and shows how a multimodal methodological perspective can strengthen the voices of children in educational research. The authors illustrate how a strong children’s perspective can be established with a methodical starting point inspired by phenomenology, critical utopian action research, and arts-based research. The inquiry is especially focused on how the embodied communication of the teacher’s professional practice is experienced by children and transformed from an often silent bodily knowledge to esthetic, artistic, and verbal formats. In order to understand the children’s lived experiences of life in school, they were invited into an open and playful future workshop. The workshop creates a dialogical space where the verbal, sensuous, emotional, and bodily expressions of both criticism and dreams can be articulated. It’s a space that can be seen as potentially activist material, because it allows for the dominance of the already existing structures to possibly be exceeded. Therefore, the article also includes children’s concrete artistic interpretations of the embodied leadership of their teachers. The empirical material shows how the artistic, visual, and aesthetic practices can transform the child’s lived experiences and contribute to creating an open space, where images, imagery, and metaphorical explorations are possible. The children’s voices show how they experience being seen, being invisible, or being touched by their teachers. They also show how they experience being afraid and exposed in the classroom. It is perhaps just here that the forms of expression in art offer a dialogic, collaborative foundation, where embodied experiences can be transformed into forms of knowledge that are more accessible to reflection and exploration. This could be a first step toward change.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Qualitative Research
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)444-462
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Art-based research methods, Embodied experiences, Children’s voices, Embodiment and leadership

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