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  • Writer's picturePete Crowcroft

Proposition 2 - Build a Relationship with Place and More-than-Human

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

Now that we have selected and committed to regularly walking and listening with Place, we are going to hear examples of what it is to develop a relationship with a place by deepening our perspectives and understanding of it.



2 Build a Relationship with Place and More than Human
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Please add your comments and thoughts below. Where have you chosen to walk and listen? Are you noticing a shift in your thoughts and a change in your relationship with an area you may already know well?



Proposition 2_Build a relationship with Place and More-than-Human

Feet walking, feet moving slow and fast, feet stop as hands re-tie shoes, groups of feet traveling down the hill to Beach. Calmness, slow movement, movements marking our journey. An anticipation of visiting with Beach fills the air around each of us; we are returning to a place we know.

Ocean sits at the bottom of the hill, calling us into connection. Blues of all shades sparkle with the winter sun. Warmth covers our bodies on the unseasonal warm day in the Kulin season of Gwangal Moronn, the season of the honey bees. Country should be cooling down following summer, yet today, Sun reminds us of summer. Ocean seems to soak in Sun too, moving, changing blues, and calling us to visit.

Tree growing on the grass next to Beach holds a memory for us. Cool, covered, underneath, we know this is place where we find another connection to the place. Branches stretch towards the sun and for a moment, we stop and join branch, sitting and touching with bark.

Continuing on, feet move to the usual spot on Beach. Memories of this place form our visits when were 6- and 7-years old joins us as 11- and 12-year olds, on this visit. Maybe because we have joined the current 6- and & year olds on this visit, or maybe because we remember when we thought with this place previously. Time has been given to us today; time to walk with the place, time to find what calls us into connection.

Something is different today. Reef has emerged from the ocean making visible rock pools—this is something we have never seen before on our previous visits! Feet move with reef into rock pools water moves across toes, hands, legs, shoes! Crab emerges from the sand under the water, moving away from us. Sand with hands is a safe place for crab as scooping becomes our hope of spending time with crab. Crab seems scared or maybe angry. Hands bring crab back with her home. Last time, crab hotels populated the beach, all made by humans. Have we begun to understand crabs actually already have homes? Are we listening with crab now?

Learning with local places has been part of these children’s and teachers’ lives for many years. Regular walking with the local pathways to Creek, Beach, Park, and land where the school is located are established practices and a commitment to time needed for building a deep relationship with place. Sustained moments crossing Creek, encountering Bark, listening with ant, and following baby skink in the dry creek bed make visible the relations with place and the more-than-human that inhabit these Places. In particular, these moments articulate what calls the children and teachers into connection (Rose, 2013) within the place, acknowledging First Nations ways of knowing that are always present as they walk with place. These actions require “thinking about place in a different way than the ‘Whitefella’s way of coming up blind and bumping into everything’ (Rose, 2004, as cited in Hamm, 2015, p. 58) and practice learning with place.

This also calls for ‘slow pedagogy’--a term that has emerged from the time and slowness of Learning with Place. For example, the complexity of thinking and deep relationships with place have been built slowly through consistent, extended periods of time spent with place and more-than-human others. As researchers, we have spent long periods of time with teachers and place supporting teaching pedagogies focused on learning with place. We counter the traditional research schedules of 8 weeks in a school, doing a ‘treatment’ and then leaving. Slowness includes collaborative planning meetings between teachers and researchers as ideas, questions, and ponderings are shared and mulled over time, even beyond the prescribed meeting. Time limits like terms or schedules are not part of how teaching pedagogies are enacted, rather teachers create spaces and give time for themselves and children to think through theories and questions.

Slow pedagogy is not a new concept. Haraway reminds us through the ideas of Thom van Dooren, “time is materially in play here—troubling, unsettled, creative, and destructive times that fold and enfold, rather than march inexorably from past to present to future” (Haraway, 2018, p. 102). Slow pedagogies become necessary to disrupt and re-shape understandings of time. Rowntree and Gambino (2017) articulate forest as the activator of slow pedagogy in their work in Bunyaville Conservation Park. ‘Slow pedagogy involves emplacement, that is, being able to place oneself within a system of relationships to other living entities and material things. One becomes part of the place rather than simply passing through’ (p. 70).

Slowness is part of the practices in the municipal infant and toddler centres and preschool in Reggio Emilia, Italy where learning is always done in relationships. ‘The educational relation needs to be able to make time, it needs to be slow, it needs empty time’ (Rinaldi, 2005, p. 161). This is further evident in the practice of listening within these settings, ‘Listening as time, a time that is outside chronological time--a time full of silences, of long pauses, an interior time’ (p. 49). Carlo Petrini began the slow food movement in the 1980s after protesting the opening of a McDonald’s in Rome. Slow food supports the slowness needed to make connections between the political, ethical, historical, and cultural practices of food--deep relationships between food and humans. And so, slow pedagogy, long moments of time, pauses, and silence fill Learning with Place.

Now take a moment and think back to the story shared at the start of this podcast.

Can you find slow pedagogy?

First Nations Worldviews?

A deep relationship between people and the environment?

Now how might you take action, try this --

Visit the place that you have committed to in Proposition 1 and just be in the place at the start. This means you can play with the place, explore what is there, listen. To start a relationship, you have to become familiar with the place so do that by first spending time and then figuring out what calls you into connection.

Think about being called into connection like when you visit a shop and where you want to go first. Why do you want to go to this place? Is it the colours, sounds, smell, memories that bring you to this place?

Now think of what calls you into connection at the place you have committed to visiting. Is it a smell? A sound? Something you touch? Or something else? Tell someone your story of this connection. As you continue to visit and get to know your place, do other things call you into connection?



Walking with Place
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What calls you in connection? How do you know?

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