Materiality in Teaching and Learning

by Pauline Sameshima (Volume editor) Boyd White (Volume editor) Anita Sinner (Volume editor)
©2019 Textbook XII, 290 Pages
Series: Counterpoints, Volume 528


Ma is a curriculum. The Japanese concept of ma refers to the interval between two markers. Ma is somatically constructed by a deliberate, attentive consciousness to what simultaneously is expressed, repressed, or suppressed between two structures. In a dialectic exploration, the spaces between—private/public, teacher/student, old/new, self/other, among others—are probed in ways that contribute to the significant research in teaching and learning that has been undertaken in the last few decades.
Material culture is the study of belief systems, behaviours, and perceptions through artefacts and physical objects and is central to the socialization of human beings into culture. The analysis of cultural materials offers sites for concretizing the self and the self in context. New materiality challenges assumptions and clichés and allows for possibilities not yet imagined, perhaps even inconceivable possibilities. New materiality approaches accept that matter itself has agency. As such, this book investigates the intersections at the core of ma, engagements wherein the investigations create something new, in order to demonstrate the layers of the teaching and learning self.
Interpretations of the concept of ma articulate new definitions to improve the conditions, practices, products, and pedagogies of being a teacher/learner in the twenty-first century. Ma is a site for epistemological understandings, threshold learnings, and self and curriculum becomings.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise for Ma
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Figures
  • Section I. Theoretical Speculations
  • Chapter 1. Ma, I’m Thinking About Nothing (Pauline Sameshima)
  • Chapter 2. Ma (間) of Education (Heesoon Bai / Avraham Cohen)
  • Chapter 3. Ma as a Machinic Component (Jun Hu)
  • Chapter 4. Ma-ga-warui: Disruptive Sensations in Somaesthetic-Minded Teaching and Learning (Summer Dickinson)
  • Chapter 5. The Story-Object: Embodying (New) Materiality in Teaching and Learning (Dustin Garnet / Anita Sinner)
  • Chapter 6. Of Lanterns and Liminal Moments: Living Curriculum in the Key of Ted Tetsuo Aoki (Erika Hasebe-Ludt)
  • Chapter 7. Breathe with the Magnificent Materiality of Being: Haiku, Ma, and Kokoro (Sean Wiebe)
  • Chapter 8. Aesthetic Encounters and Ethics: The Space Between (Boyd White)
  • Section II. Methodological Emergences
  • Chapter 9. Mind with Matter: A Conversation About Math Education and New Materialism (Nathalie Duponsel / Sandra Chang-Kredl)
  • Chapter 10. Inside Outside Upside Down (Aaron Senitt)
  • Chapter 11. In Between the Markers: Ma and the Art of Evaluation (Holly Tsun Haggarty)
  • Chapter 12. Disrupting the Spectacle of School Art through Collage: New Art Teachers and In Between Spaces of Possibility (Christina Hanawalt)
  • Chapter 13. Drawing New Images of Thought: Mapping Relations and Negotiating Meanings through the Material (Joana Hyatt)
  • Chapter 14. Pulp Fiction: Creating a Visual Leadership Philosophy (Lisa Hochtritt)
  • Chapter 15. “These Are My Objects”: Exploring Materiality with Students (Briana Bower)
  • Section III. Productive Relations
  • Chapter 16. Living Practice of 間 (Yoriko Gillard)
  • Chapter 17. Materiality: MA Provoked/MA Discovered/MA Embraced (Siobhan-Louise O’Keefe)
  • Chapter 18. What Matters: A Tale of “Ma” (Sheila O’Brien)
  • Chapter 19. Ma: Lingering in the Alphabet (Carl Leggo)
  • Chapter 20. Spring (Kedrick James)
  • Chapter 21. Teacher-Thinking as Embodied Matter Producing and Produced by Pedagogical Spaces: A Research Journey with Two Contemporary Dance Artist-Teachers (Tone Pernille Østern)
  • Chapter 22. MA Poses: A New Material Feminist Art Practice (Barbara Bickel / Nané Jordan / Medwyn McConachy / Ingrid Rose / Cindy Lou Griffith)
  • Chapter 23. Ma: Spaces for Thinking in 13 Haibuns (Wanda Hurren)
  • Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index

| ix →


Figure 1.1. Amway Apple.

Figure 1.2. Holes as Access to the Self.

Figure 1.3. Green Cover 1.

Figure 1.4. Green Cover 2.

Figure 1.5. Green Cover 2.

Figure 6.1. Ted and June Aoki.

Figure 6.2. Beautiful Decay.

Figure 10.1. Touching Language.

Figure 10.2. Abstract Letter Form.

Figure 10.3. Conventional Letter Form.

Figure 10.4. Gary in Alphabetic Labyrinth.

Figure 10.5. Alphabetical Labyrinth Worksheet.

Figure 10.6. Boustrophedon.

Figure 11.1. Evaluative Visual Art, “Chain-Link”.

Figure 12.1. Participant Art Exhibit.

Figure 13.1. The Gloves Were Marked with Symbolic Words and Acronyms That Described the Beginning of the Graduate Students’ Journeys. ← ix | x →

Figure 13.2. Graduate Students Renegotiate Interpretations of the Images with Other Classmates.

Figure 14.1. Close up of “Leader Ships.”

Figure 22.1. Mother Goddess from Catal Höyük, Turkey.

Figure 22.2. Barbara in the Birthing Pose.

Figure 22.3. Goddess of Crete from Archanes, Crete (1100–1000 BC).

Figure 22.4. Medwyn standing with uplifted arms.

Figure 22.5.Dea Lactans’ Pose or ‘breastfeeding-pose,’ or mother with child. Seated Isis (100 BC).

Figure 22.6.This supports higher learning.” Barbara and Cindy Lou in mother with child poses.

Figure 22.7. Deified Queen Nefertari giving blessing.

Figure 22.8. Nané in MA adorant pose (at the back garden gate of Chartres Cathedral).

| 1 →



| 3 →

· 1 ·


Pauline Sameshima


the name of her

fills me with


the fullness

of me


a hungry void


wanting my mother

I am ma

she strokes my arm

inhales me slowly

wraps around my shoulders

warm skin, hair, lips

leaving absence

yearning ache

running through

my fingers, gone

calling out


ma ← 3 | 4 →

This book adopts a theoretical framework from the Japanese concept of ma as a lens through which to investigate the materiality of teaching and learning. Ma refers to the interval between two markers; the space that is somatically constructed by a deliberate, attentive consciousness to what simultaneously is expressed, repressed, or suppressed between two structures. In educational research the concept of ma might be likened to descriptors such as the hidden curriculum, third space, liminality, the in-between, the backslash, or prosody, but it is more. It is a way of inquisitiveness, desire, imagining, learning, positioning, being, becoming. Attention in the book is given to how authors engage in notions of materiality, with specific attention to the lived experiences of teachers, in ways that embrace diversity over a singular definition.

Within the shifting paradigms of the academy, the authors in this book bring to the fore the central tension of ma as a site that generates innovative accounts and creative investigations addressing materiality through a host of contexts, as ‘thing-power,’ story-making, performance, the environment, and across all levels of learning, formal and informal. New materiality and material culture in teaching and learning is rendered in this book through a variety of methods: performative, literary, visual response, arts-integrated renderings, poetry, stories, collage, textile design, dance, as well as case studies and traditional chapters.

The breadth of data sources in this collection demonstrate how a conceptual framework can operate in practice with the needed elasticity to bring artful, sensory, divergent, and deconstructive processes to prompt creative engagement from a perspective of materiality which my coeditors and I argue gives a fuller and more flexible understanding of the phenomenon being queried. In these chapters, authors address questions such as: What inquiry methods, practices, objects, designs, structures, and/or environments unveil features of, and influences upon, teaching and learning identities that lead to teacher or learner self-efficacy? How do we as educators work with objects/artefacts of teaching and learning and create new relationships for learning in the process? How is educational materiality enacted in education and to what ends? How is materiality changing/challenging our educational discourses?

My Exploration

This book stems from a Social Sciences Humanities Council–funded project where Boyd White, Anita Sinner, and I explored the nature of pre-service teacher self-identity, which we attest is an essential component in teacher ← 4 | 5 → preparation (and ultimately in-service practice). Our strategy was to use material culture as the vehicle for investigation.

Significant research in teaching and learning has been undertaken in the last decades, but the role of materiality and material culture, as formative in the development of teaching and learning identities, was a new site for epistemological understandings. The purpose of this project was to explore how materiality and material culture provide: (1) concrete artefacts available for empirical examination; (2) a reference point for symbolic interpretation; and (3) a lens, through which to de/reconstruct the sometimes problematic, frequently inchoate nature of teaching and learning. We sought to articulate refinements to improve the conditions, practices, products, and pedagogies of being a teacher/learner in contemporary contexts and expand the conceptualization and the practice of educating.

The team used the parallaxic praxis research model (Sameshima & Vandermause, 2008) to generate new understandings across three sites (Lakehead University, Concordia University, McGill University) using three modalities (identity cloaks, identity boxes, identity narratives).1

At the Lakehead site, the graduate student team and I coded and analyzed a data set consisting of 90 textile identity cloaks made by pre-service teachers. I was particularly interested in ma because the concept raises detail-oriented nuances around attentive consciousness and it is explicitly used in textile fashion to reference the space between the body and the piece of clothing. Ma is that ever-shifting space between the self and cover, the space between the teacher’s body and the cloak of the teacher persona.

In November 2014, I stumbled upon a fascinating exhibit called “Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion” on display at the Gallery of Modern Art/Queensland Art Gallery. The show displayed innovations by Japanese fashion designers from the early 1980s to 2014. Curated by Japanese fashion historian Akiko Fukai, the exhibit embodied the unique sensibilities of Japanese beauty and design, highlighting the revolutionary impact Japanese designers have had on world fashion in the late 20th century. Fukai (2010), in describing how European eyes may see the kimono or a loose-fitting piece of clothing as shapeless, says, “Yet to the Japanese, the superfluous ‘space’ between the garment and the body, referred to as ma, is more than simply a void: it is a rich space that possesses incalculable energy” (p. 16, italics in original).

Fukai explains how contemporary fashion designers in the show explore the interplay in-between the two-dimensional form of clothing that only takes form in a three-dimensional state. He shares designer Johji Yamamoto’s belief ← 5 | 6 → that the clothes he designs are “made half by him and half by the wearer” (p. 16). I liken these ideas to the donning of a static two-dimensional teacher persona becoming dynamic in form by the teacher-wearer. Intrigued by Fukai’s exhibit and theorizations on the body and clothing as ways to think about how the pre-service teacher may put on the teacher identity as a cloak or clothing, or ‘wear’ the teacher self, I further investigated the interval of ma between body and clothing. I wanted to better understand the ma space and how the development of becoming a teacher, specifically in taking on the teacher identity, could better prepare pre-service teachers in their chosen careers. The links between pre-service teacher identity with attrition (Hong, 2010) and unpreparedness for the demands of the profession (Beltman, Glass, Dinham, Chalk, & Nguyen, 2015) have been well documented.


XII, 290
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2019 (August)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Vienna, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XII, 290 pp., 26 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Pauline Sameshima (Volume editor) Boyd White (Volume editor) Anita Sinner (Volume editor)

Pauline Sameshima, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Arts Integrated Studies at Lakehead University, utilizes multi-modal methodologies to catalyze thinking, dialogues, and social innovation. Boyd White is Associate Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education, Faculty of Education, McGill University. Anita Sinner is Associate Professor of Art Education at Concordia University, Montreal.


Title: Ma