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Tim Ingold’s (2013) account of the art of inquiry begins with the relation between thinking and making, a relation that ‘allow[s] knowledge to grow from the crucible of our practical and observational engagements with the beings and things around us’ (p.6).

Thing-power (Bennett, 2009 2012), thing-play (Rautio and Winston, 2015), and the crafty wisdom of the studio characterized a research workshop in South Africa in 2017, part of the Decolonising Early Childhood Discourses: Critical Posthumanism in Higher Education project ( A variety of data had been created in a single literacy lesson, based on a picturebook How to Find Gold (Schwarz, 2016), and in the workshop these data performed as the provocation for an inquiry-with-materials.

This keynote reports on the other-than-wordy experiments carried out at the workshop. Participants played and thought with materials in response to the data, to introduce creative possibilities for educational research. Relaxed attentiveness, openness and collaboration were features of our practices, shifting away from the familiar, adopting an experimental stance. As researchers, we were concerned about what we may have been missing, when only focusing on the human, social or linguistic features of experience, and seeking to re-present them. I hope to exemplify a method of research ‘not to describe the world, or to represent it, but to open up our perception to what is going on there so that we, in turn, can respond to it’ (Ingold, 2013, p.7).

Bennett, J. (2009) Vibrant Matter: A political ecology of things. [Online]. Durham and London: Duke University Press Books. Accessed: 1 August 2017.
Bennett, J. (2012) Powers of the Hoard: Artistry and Agency in a World of Vibrant Matter.
[Online]. Accessed: 10 November 2017.
Giorza, T. and Haynes, J. (2018) Beyond Words: Materiality and the Play of Things, Chapter Five in K. Murris and J. Haynes (Eds) Literacy, Literature and Learning: reading classrooms differently. London: Routledge.
Ingold, T. (2013) Making: Anthropology, Archaelogy, Art and Architecture. London and New
York: Routledge. Rautio, P. and Winston, J. (2015) Things and children in play–improvisation with language and matter. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 36,1:15-26. Schwarz, V. (2016) How to find gold. London: Walker Books.

Joanna Haynes

Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in Education Studies at University of Plymouth

Research interests My practical and theoretical research is in philosophy in education and professional practice; democratic, community and intra-generational learning. I have a longstanding interest in teaching and researching controversial...