By Elizabeth Laura Yomantas
This post is based on Elizabeth Yomantas’s article, “Becoming Untamed Educators,” in the current issue of The Educational Forum. You can access this article for free during the month of September.
In my earliest years of classroom teaching, I was happy, but I suspected that something was missing. There was no whole me present – only selected parts of my identity made their way into the classroom. I thought this was the way it was supposed to be. The teacher version of me was present, but the creative, artist, human dimensions of my identity were absent. I had no idea how much more there could be.
Everything changed when I entered my doctoral program. One of my beloved professors, Dr. Penny Bryan, introduced me to arts-based research (Leavy, 2015, 2019). I finally felt like I had found my home in the world. In arts-based research (ABR), the personhood of the researcher is intimately connected with their work. Arts-based researchers identify as scholARTists (Cahnmann-Taylor & Siegesmund, 2008), meaning we are concurrently scholars, artists, and teachers. The boundaries are blurred, and therefore, we bring all of ourselves into our work as artists, teachers, researchers. Brenè Brown (2020) describes this as “living with antennas up” and making connections between things that seemingly do not have overt connections.
This idea was both transformative and exciting for me. I found myself asking, “I can be an artist and a teacher? I can be a scholar and an artist? I can be all of these things at the same time?”
Once introduced to ABR, I instantly decided to become an arts-based researcher and a person who embraces all dimensions of life from the perspective of a scholARTist. This was a new beginning for me. My scholarship, artistry, and teaching were transformed.
My recently published article, “Becoming Untamed Educators,” is a manifestation of my identity as a scholARTist who aims to live with “antennas up.” As I read Glennon Doyle’s New York Times bestseller Untamed (2020), I could not stop thinking about the implications and connections to our work as educators. Although Glennon’s writing is considered a memoir, the text is ripe for analysis in connection to our field. It was a holistic and joyful experience to work this article, and I appreciated the opportunity to expand the boundaries of what “counts” as academic scholarship.
Looking back, if it hadn’t been for Dr. Bryan introducing me to idea that it is acceptable to bring all of myself to my work, this journal article would never be. It takes courage to write outside the boundaries of the traditional confines of the academy, and I did not have the courage, confidence, or experience before working with Dr. Bryan. Through her continual invitation of creativity and her constant affirmations of creative risk taking, she nurtured the artist hidden deep inside me and set me on the path of scholARTistry. This journey is a dimension of “untaming” myself. To find out more about becoming untamed, please check out the full article, “Becoming Untamed Educators.”
Brown, B. (Host). (2020, April 7). Unlocking Us: [Audio podcast]. Alicia Keys and Brené on “More Myself.”
Cahnmann-Taylor, M., & Siegesmund, R. (Eds.) (2008). Arts-based research in education: Foundations for practice. Routledge.
Leavy, P. (2015). Method meets art: Arts-based research practice. Guilford Press. Leavy, P. (2019). Handbook of Arts-Based Research. Guilford Press.