Embracing unpredictabilities in L1 education and beyond: Can we ever know where teaching might take us?

Activity: Talk or presentationConference presentation


In this paper, we raise the question of embracing unpredictabilities in teaching. In recent research, educational scholars have begun to question if teaching can and should be constantly controlled, predetermined, and result-driven. Following this line of thought, we ask: Do we know – or more precisely – can we ever know where teaching might take us?

To explore this question, we re-turn to our previous research within the context of literacies education, literary education, and arts-integration. We draw on data from two research projects that combined poetry with other art forms; dancing in primary education (Jusslin, 2020) and video-making in lower secondary education (Höglund, 2017). The cross-curricular teaching approaches can thus be understood as arts integration, aiming to promote students’ knowledge-creation in all included disciplines (Marshall, 2014). Theoretically, we engage with a rhizomatic framework (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987/2013) that acknowledges that teaching and knowledge-creation can move in different irregular and infinite directions, that are constantly and always unpredictable. The core idea is thus not to control the teaching and knowledge-creation and, more specifically, the creative and interpretative processes in arts integration, but instead to embrace the unpredictabilities of what can happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Analytically, this theoretical approach is put to work through a thinking with theory approach (Jackson & Mazzei, 2022).

With two vignettes, we present events to showcase how students’ unpredictable doings were either hindered or enabled. Preliminary analyses suggest that seeking to control a predetermined assignment hindered students’ unexpected doings and initiatives, which lead to potentially missing valuable possibilities for their interpretative work. Yet, allowing students’ playful approaches – seemingly “goofing around” – moved their creative processes in rhizomatic directions that became crucial for their interpretative work. In conclusion, we discuss implications that the notion of embracing unpredictabilities might have for teaching practices.
Period11 May 2023
Event titleNoFa9 – The 9th Nordic Conference on Subject Education: NoFa9
Event typeConference
LocationVasa, FinlandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational