Practicing What I Preach in Art Education: A Narrative Self-Inquiry



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Identified as the highest forms of cognition (Bruner, 1986), and as narrative illustrations of our lived experiences (Craig & Huber, 2007; Freeman, 2007; Lakoff & Johnson, 1980), metaphors form the conceptual framework for this narrative self-inquiry (Clandinin, 2007; Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Clandinin & Connelly, 1990) into the art education philosophy and classroom practices of a doctoral student, teacher, and artist. Following the recommendations of Bullough and Pinnegar (2001), LaBoskey (2004), and Feldman (2006) as methodological guidelines for self-study, this inquiry explores the cultural origins, personal interpretations, and conceptual evolution of two novel metaphors, “Art is a Coyote,” and “Art is a river,” and how they influence the personal practical knowledge (Conle, Li, & Tan, 2002; Dewey, 1964; Elbaz, 1980) of the researcher. Field texts (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000) generated in three university level art education classes are analyzed and provide a vehicle for a research narrative (LaBoskey, 2004; McNiff, 2007) illuminating past personal, formative, contextualized experiences (Samaras, Hicks, & Berger, 2004) influencing the researcher’s practice, and fostering the creation of new conceptual associations between the source domains of the metaphors and the researcher’s continuing perceptions of practical experiences. Personal journaling is an integral part of this self-study and is held up as a tool vital to self-examination. The inquiry demonstrates the enlivening of an educator’s practice with deeply meaningful cognitive relationships built on the use of two novel metaphors, and expands the knowledge base of the field of art education by opening the metaphors, the researcher’s professional practice, and the narrative of the researcher’s self-inquiry to the scrutiny and individual contextualization of education professionals and other readers.



Art is a coyote, Art is a river, Metaphor, Native American oral literature, Art education, Art metaphor, Education, Art education metaphor, Narrative self-inquiry, Self-study, Narrative self-study