Sacred Structures: Assembling Meaning, Constructing Self

  • James Haywood RollingJr.Email author
Part of the Educating the Young Child book series (EDYC, volume 12)


This book chapter tells a story of several meaning-making projects situated within the pedagogical orbit of an elementary school art studio. These are recounted in order to discover analogies and equivalencies between the effort to construct an identity as an imaginatively produced text and the effort to make meaning from materials and ideas. The assembly of a representative array of meanings from a stock of accessible materials and ideas creates the baseline structures for an evolving identity framework. This is so fundamental an activity, even a child can do it. Moreover, all young learners must do this brand of work in response to the expectation that they gainfully figure themselves out in the context of society each and every time they attempt to (re)make meaning.


Making meaning Sense Intertextuality Tacit knowledge Identity 


  1. Anderson, W. T. (1997). The future of the self: Inventing the postmodern person. New York: Tarcher/Putnam.Google Scholar
  2. Barthes, R. (1968). The death of the author. Image—music—text (S. Heath, Trans.). New York: Hill and Wang. 1977.Google Scholar
  3. Blandy, D., & Hoffman, E. (1993). Toward an art education of place. Studies in Art Education, 35(1), 22–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Danko-McGhee, K., & Slutsky, R. (2007). The impact of early art experiences on literacy development. Reston: National Art Education Association.Google Scholar
  5. Dissanayake, E. (2003). Homo aestheticus: Where art comes from and why. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar
  6. Edwards, C., Gandini, L., & Forman, G. (Eds.). (1993). The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  7. Efland, A. D. (1995). The spiral and the lattice: Changes in cognitive learning theory with implications for art education. Studies in Art Education, 36(3), 134–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Efland, A. D. (2002). Art and cognition: Integrating the visual arts in the curriculum. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  9. Egan, K. (1989). Teaching as storytelling: An alternative approach to teaching and curriculum in the elementary school. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  10. Feinburg, S. G. (1973). Combat in child art. Unpublished manuscript, Tufts University. (Available from Sylvia G. Feinburg, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study, Tufts University, Medford, MA).Google Scholar
  11. Grace, M. (1999). When students create curriculum. Educational Leadership, 57(3), 49–52.Google Scholar
  12. Gudmundsdottir, S. (1995). The narrative nature of pedagogical content knowledge. In H. McEwan & K. Egan (Eds.), Narrative in teaching, learning, and research (pp. 24–38). New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hawkins, D. (2002). The informed vision: Essays on learning and human nature. New York: Algora Publishing.Google Scholar
  14. Jagodzinski, J. (1991). A para-critical/sitical/sightical reading of Ralph Smith’s excellence in art education. Journal of Social Theory in Art Education, 11, 119–159.Google Scholar
  15. Kindler, A. M. (1999). “From endpoints to repertoires”: A challenge to art education. Studies in Art Education, 40(4), 330–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Marshall, B. K. (1992). Teaching the postmodern: Fiction and theory. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Narey, M. (Ed.). (2009). Making meaning: Constructing multimodal perspectives of language, literacy, and learning through arts-based early childhood education. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  18. Novitz, D. (2001). Art, narrative, and human nature. In L. P. Hinchman & S. K. Hinchman (Eds.), Memory, identity, community: The idea of narrative in the human sciences (pp. 143–160). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  19. Polanyi, M. (1967). The tacit dimension. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  20. Rolling, J. H. (2006). Marginalia and meaning: Off-site/sight/cite points of reference for extended trajectories in learning. Journal of Social Theory in Art Education, 26, 219–240.Google Scholar
  21. Rolling, J. H. (2008a). Sites of contention and critical thinking in the elementary art classroom: A political cartooning project. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 9 (4), 1–26. Retrieved May 23, 2015, from
  22. Rolling, J. H. (2008b). Rethinking relevance in art education: Paradigm shifts and policy problematics in the wake of the Information age. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 9 (Interlude 1). Retrieved May 11, 2008, from
  23. Rolling, J. H. (2013). Art as social response and responsibility: Reframing critical thinking in art education as a basis for altruistic intent. Art Education, 66(2), 6–12.Google Scholar
  24. Taylor, C. (1976). Hermeneutics and politics. In P. Connerton (Ed.), Critical sociology, selected readings (pp. 153–193). Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books Ltd.Google Scholar
  25. Wertsch, J. V. (1985). Vygotsky and the social formation of mind. Cambridge, UK: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Wilson, B. (2005). More lessons from the superheroes of J. C. Holz: The visual culture of childhood and the third pedagogical site. Art Education, 59(6), 18–34.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Syracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

Personalised recommendations