Social Inclusion in and around Visual Arts Activities: Epistemic Practices in a Preschool Context

Vackova, Petra (2017). Social Inclusion in and around Visual Arts Activities: Epistemic Practices in a Preschool Context. MRes thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000cdd8

Abstract

The Czech Republic is experiencing an upsurge of preschool programs that promote social inclusion following the agenda of the Czech government to provide hard-to-reach children, many of them Roma, an equal access to education. Social inclusion in this context is an end-product of a social project focused on the entry of groups of children in mainstream education. This thesis examines one such preschool with the aim to better understand how teachers, children, parents and the material culture interact and thus influence the inclusive character of their classroom. Proposing three processes –communication, embodied interactions, and agency – as central to the culture of inclusion and exclusion, I argue that it is more useful to look at inclusive education as an epistemic practice, a set of processes, where specific classroom dynamics construct a specific perspective of how social inclusion and exclusion is performed, created, and negotiated. Exploring artmaking, as a particular behaviour setting, I investigate the role of visual art in inclusive education and suggest that instead of assigning special inclusive powers to the process of artmaking it is more useful to explore its agency and the way its materiality co-constructs inclusive education practices.

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