Proposition 5 - Thinking with Place and More-than-Human
Updated: Sep 28
By now, you're becoming familiar with Place, you have played, listened, and become affected by the more-than-human that live and share the place with you. Let's develop that relationship further by considering First Nations Worldviews. Humans have been walking your place for thousands and thousands of years, there is incredible history and story there. Considering this adds a powerful depth of perspective to your relationship with Place.
How did you feel walking with Place today?
Proposition 5_Thinking with Place and More-than-Human
Grass, woodchips, leaves, trees invite us to walk the place where we spend most of the days during the week. Feet travel with ground. Cement and asphalt, decaying leaves, patches of grass under our feet; tree inviting us to touch and climb. Eucalyptus fills our noses.
Have we ever walked the place with specific intentions? Playing, climbing, talking often fill our days in this place. But today, walking in silence, feet move around the perimeter of this school place.
This is Wadawurrung Country and our school lives on Wadawurrung Land. Today may be peaceful but we know this was a place of violence and loss. How are these stories present in our walk today?
Feet continue to walk but the provocation now is what space calls us into connection. Pushing ourselves further, we must find a place that is not made by humans. What does this mean? Are there any spaces within our school place that reflect this request?
Upon return to our room, a human-made space, we record the details of what called us into connection. Pencils and pens scratch the paper; visual images and words emerge—we are finding a way to make visible this place. Questions emerge, how do you make a smell visible? A feeling visible? A memory visible?
For the teachers and children in the story shared, as they walk with the familiar place where their school is located, it is in the practice of ‘coming alongside’ that learning with place happens. Walking the whole place several times moves to finding what calls them into connection. In this sense, the place is provoking the connections and shifting the relationship between place and human from a human-centric perspective--this is where I learn about things-- to ---place is a provocation for learning with and in relation.
The concept of ‘coming alongside’ (2016) originates from the work of Karen Martin as a means for non-Indigenous people to engage respectfully with First Nations Worldviews. Martin suggests that this work includes time--time to sit and listen with local elders, time to think with, listen with, walk with place and more-than-human. This commitment with time supports the building of genuine relationships and respectful connections inclusive of intention. Coming alongside includes articulating our own connections and stories with local places as we engage with the political and ethical responsibilities of foregrounding Indigenous worldviews throughout teaching and learning.
If you think of your own ‘place’ or context, can you name the Country where you are located? Who are the Traditional Custodians of the Land? If you do not know, take the time now to find out.
Now think about how you can ‘come alongside’ with First Nations Worldviews in your local Place. Take some time to figure out why the place looks how it does. Consider why the insects have chosen this place to live. How do the local First Nations seasons impact what trees, plant, animals, and insects live here? What other First Nations understandings of this land where the place is located influence how you understand and theorise about this place and the animals, insects, plants, and trees that live there.
How might you share these ideas, stories, and histories with the children and communities you work with each day?
Now go and start walking with the place where you school, centre, organisation is located. Walk slowly. Think with the sounds, smells, seeings and what calls you into connection. Are there parts that you are drawn to. Where do you go first? What stories, memories, histories start to emerge as you walk and spend time with what calls you into connection.
Try walking with this place over and over and see what changes, what deepens, what emerges for you and your relationship with this place.
Returning back to the question -- How might you share these ideas, stories, and histories with the children and communities you work with each day? -- how can your experience bring this question to action? How might a deep relationship with the school-centre-organisation place, change how children, families, colleagues think and act with the place?
How might you practice ‘coming alongside’ and share ideas, stories, and histories with the children and communities you work with each day?
How might a deep relationship with the school-centre-organisation place, change how children, families, colleagues think and act with this place?