Volume 18 Number 33 August 25, 2017

Resignifying the Negative Space: Troubling the Representation of Learning

Rachel Fendler
Florida State University, USA

Citation: Fendler, R. (2017). Resignifying the negative space: Revisiting the representation of learning. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 18(33). Retrieved from http://www.ijea.org/v18n33/.


Informed by the results of a collaborative project carried out with six secondary school students, this paper reflects on the methodological and epistemological issues related to the representation of informal learning practices. Borrowing a concept from the arts, I suggest that a representationalist logic in both schooling and educational research contexts can produce a negative space, a data site composed of practices, gestures and experiences that are rendered invisible within dominant narratives on learning. In an attempt to revisit and resignify the negative space of my fieldwork, I use Michel de Certeau’s theory on tactics in an attempt to rethink youth participation. Finally, I explore how an arts-informed approach to educational ethnography can account for learning that falls outside the realm of assessment, tracing a connection between artistic modes of knowing, research practice, and the performance of learning as gesture.

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