Swapping Jerseys: Professional Education and Materialities of Faith

Monday, 11 July 2016: 10:57
Location: Hörsaal 13 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Maureen MICHAEL, University of Stirling, United Kingdom
In my early career as an educator, highly visible objects and rituals of faith shaped my professional practices of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.  Morning prayers and intercessions preceded the register; crucifixes and statues directed the beginnings and endings of lessons; school assemblies mimicked the ritual of the mass with readings, sermons and hymns; and the content of lessons were often informed by periods of religious observance (e.g. Lent and Advent).  Less visible objects also shaped my professional practices.  Football jerseys worn under school sweatshirts, insignia rings on fingers, and tunes whistled in corridors – these were all cause for reprimand, persuasion or distraction.  These pieces of material culture were not just provocative expressions of faith and identity but a highly politicised aesthetic that challenged concepts of ‘the good professional’. The curricular project ‘Swapping Jerseys’ was devised as an arts-based collaboration to explore issues of sectarianism then prevalent in Glasgow’s east end.  My participation in that project had a profound effect on my faith identity and related professional practices in education.

Many years later, and in the relatively secular environment of a modern university, I realise that my everyday professional practices are no longer visibly characterised by materialities of faith.  Subsequently, the faith-based aspect of ‘good professional’ no longer has a material presence. In realising this absence I appreciate the ways in faith-based material practices continue to influence my research and teaching in professional education. 

This ‘paper’ brings together photographs and collages in a visual narrative of professional education that foregrounds materialities of faith and schooling.   Law’s (2004) concepts of presence, manifest absence and othering are brought together with the visual art technique of collage to analyse the ways in which visual representations of faith and ‘professional’ shape, and are shaped by, practices of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.