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Learning to Teach in the Digital Age

New Materialities and Maker Paradigms in Schools


Sean Justice

Learning to Teach in the Digital Age tells the story of a group of K–12 teachers as they began to connect with digital making and learning pedagogies. Guiding questions at the heart of this qualitative case study asked how teaching practices engaged with and responded to the maker movement and digital making and learning tools and materials. Over the course of one school year, Sean Justice attended to the ebb and flow of teaching and learning at an independent K–12 girls school the northeastern United States. Teachers and administrators from across grade levels and academic domains participated in interviews and casual conversations, and opened their classrooms to ad hoc observations. In conducting the study, Justice interwove a sociomaterial disposition with new materialism, posthumanism, and new media theory. Methods were inspired by narrative inquiry and actor-network theory. Findings suggested that digital making and learning pedagogies were stabilizing at the school, but not in a linear way. Further, Justice suggests that the teaching practices that most engaged the ethos of twenty-first-century learning enacted a kind of learning we hear about from artists, writers, scientists, and mathematicians when they talk about what innovation feels like, leading to the proposition that a different kind of language is needed to describe the effects of digital materialities on teaching practice.
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Chapter 2. Traditions of Learning and Knowing


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These next three chapters set up the study. Each takes a slightly different approach, however, and as I mentioned in the introduction, readers might want to read one chapter before the other, or instead of another, or, in fact, read none of them and skip directly to the study itself, which begins in Chapter 5.

My goal in this chapter is to draw a relationship between the literature of maker education and the study I’m writing about in this book. Frankly, weaving together the intellectual and cultural traditions that a study pulls from is fraught with difficulties. How do tradition and new knowledge connect to each other? As authority? As disruption? As critique? And how is that relationship enacted in the structure of the writing? Some writers reference their framework in footnotes with small type, like an archeology that constructs the new on top of layers of the old; others spiral off in lengthy tangents within the text itself, like an uncle showboating his wandering erudition. And others barely acknowledge their traditions at all, with, for example, endnotes that might not even be keyed to the body of the text, like secrets at the back of the book.

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