Proposition 6 - Learning with Place and More-than-Human
Updated: Sep 28
Let's develop our understanding and perspective on Place, continuing our journey walking alongside First Nations Worldviews.
Proposition 6_ Learning with Place and More-than-Human
In this podcast, we engage with Proposition 6, Learning with Place and the more-than-human.
It is Winmallee Yallambie-Gunnung (Hot north wind and fishtrap) season day on Wurundjeri-Woi Wurrung Country. The air is hot and dry and the sound of bees humming in the flowering gum blossoms moves with the gentle breeze to me. I am with a group of preschoolers and their teachers as we take our weekly walks with our local place. As we walk, we attend to Sky Country, Waterways and the Land as intentional practices of respectfully foregrounding First Nations perspectives. As we sit by Creek, we wonder about the fish trap and Eel trap practices of Wurundjeri-Woi Wurrung people. Are there Eel swimming with Creek today?
Children and teachers engage with Place by respectfully foregrounding First Nations perspectives through their engagement with the eight Kulin seasons, rather than inverted Spring, Summer, Winter and Autumn; colonial inheritances that don’t ‘fit’ in this place. The children and their teachers have engaged with ‘place-noticing’(Hamm, 2020; Hamm, Sax & Brown, 2019) through several cycles of the Kulin seasons, attending to cues from plants, animals and the waterways that signal shifts from one season to the next. Learning with, not about place in this way, disrupts colonial framing of the seasons as arbitrarily assigned to months of the year. Place-noticing is a practice that intentionally foregrounds First Nations perspectives in everyday moments of teaching and learning. Rather than foregrounding the very popular “The First Day of Spring” commentary, we are more interested in attending to the changes to Wattle, Creek’s water levels, and listening out for Pobblebonk (Frog) calls. We understand that changes to Country are not set by linear time and that our place-noticing of the seasonal shifts vary through each cycle of Kulin Seasons. Over time, we have noticed significant shifts in the time that Wattle blooms and the changing water levels. We wonder if Wattle is responding to the ongoing climate crisis?
Learning with Place requires thinking with local First Nations perspectives. This means that we must get to know our local Places through a First Nations worldview. How can we connect with Sky Country, Waterways and the Land? If we pay attention to these ideas in our local Place, we work to counter tokenistic practices that often homogenise First Nations worldviews in educational contexts. Australia has many First Nations Countries, each with their own language, stories and ceremonies. Thinking with local, place based First Nations worldviews also disrupts dominant settler perspectives and respectfully foregrounds these knowledges and ‘refigures’ (see Nxumalo, 2016) First Nations presences.
Thinking with a First Nations worldview requires understanding that all Places are relational, with connections to landforms, waterways, plants, and animals. Being in relation with your local Place means that Place is understood as an active part of learning, with all elements of your local place having agency, and not requiring humans to exist. This conceptual difference calls for moving beyond the colonial inscriptions of Place, including recognition of violence committed to places, in order to re-turn First Nations ways of knowing and being (see Tuck & MacKenzie, 2015 for more on this). This re-positioning of First Nations at the centre of making meaning, makes visible teaching and learning as an ethical and political practice and acknowledges First Nations people’s original and ongoing connections with the land. Thinking with a local First Nations worldview must include respectful and genuine relationships with local First Nations groups as well as engaging with the tensions that come with the ethical, historical, and political contexts of the local place.
How do you make respectful, authentic connections with First Nations communities and perspectives in your local context?
How do you document the changes to Sky Country, Waterways and the Land in your local Place?