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The Deamscape and Meaning of Work in Vocational Education and Training Open Access


Other title
Visual interpretations
Contextualised thematic meanings of work
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Nabaggala, Justine
Supervisor and department
Supervisor: Dr. Bonnie Watt, Secondary Education, University of Alberta
Co-supervisor: Dr. Jerry Kachur, Department of Educational Policy, University of Alberta
Co-supervisor: Dr. Diane Conrad, Department of Secondary Education, University of Alberta
Examining committee member and department
Examining committee member: Dr. Patti Pente, Department of Elementary Education, University of Alberta
External examining committee member: Dr. Janet Groen, Department of Educational studies in Adult learning, University of Calgary
Department of Secondary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Abstract Human activity is commonly associated with its contribution to purpose in life and life experiences as learning milieus that tend to be dynamic as well as influenced by context and time. Personal traits tend to be defined in such situations, and through the same processes individuals realise their personal contributions towards the self and the other. This study’s scholarly roots are grounded in personal experiences as a student, artist, teacher, and pedagogist (pedagogue) within the vocational education sector. Work is a social activity through which individuals exercise their true potential and define personal attributes and values. From a sociological perspective, work is considered a process that engages them in both hands-on and cognitive participation, although it still remains a complex and contested concept with varying definitions. Marx and Engels as classical sociologists served as foundations for other social theorists (Weber, Turner, Wexler, Foucault, Dewey, Durkleim, and Harpaz) who informed this study. The core contribution of this research is the exploration of the dreamscape and meaning of work in vocational education and training. Four students who were pursuing higher education in vocation-oriented courses submitted artefacts and contributed to discussions that the author analysed. The inner self, unity with others, service to others, and the expression of full potential through a defined pedagogy are key aspects considered in establishing meaning within a given context and time. Understanding what constitutes work helps to comprehend art as work, as a social process, and a pedagogical act that engages a person in establishing self-worth. Within the context of this study, ontological understandings and educational thoughts on the dreamscape and meaning of work guided the discussion. More than one theoretical thought informs this study, and it is an amalgamation of various sociological and educational philosophical underpinnings. Art movements express the purpose of art beyond beauty. Gogh Chagall (1887-1985), Picasso (1881-1973), and Van Gogh (1853-1890) as artists continue to frame my critical consciousness of the personal artefacts in this thesis. Embracing art-based research and using a mixed-media technique and keeping in mind Weber’s (2008) notion on art that “images can be used to capture the indescribable; . . . some things just need to be shown, not merely stated” (p. 41), the author has produced visual interpretations from the participants’ contributions. The truth of the artefacts is established through an African philosophical aesthetic lens that views art as intuitive and symbolic as well as Ranciére and Benjamin’s theoretical understanding of works of art; that uphold the expression of an idea in a configuration of material detail rather than the discursive expression of the content. Educational theorists’ contributions within the context of this study affirm the arts as an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge creation, sharing, and retention.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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