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Critical Education and Sociomaterial Practice

Narration, Place, and the Social


Marcia McKenzie and Andrew Bieler

Critical Education and Sociomaterial Practice presents a situated approach to learning that suggests the need for more explicit attention to sociomaterial practice in critical education. Specifically, it explores social, place and narrative dimensions of practical experience as they unfold in schools, in place-based learning, and teacher education contexts. Such an orientation to practice both links social and material conditions (social relations, other species, physical context, objects) to human consciousness and learning, and considers the relationship between such learning and broader cultural change. The core of the book is an examination of critical situated learning undertaken through three separate empirical studies, each of which we use to elaborate a particular domain or dimension of practical experience. In turning to the sociomaterial contexts of learning, the book also underscores how social and environmental issues are necessarily linked, such as in the production of food deserts in cities or in the pollution of the drinking water in Indigenous communities through oil development. More social movements globally are connecting the dots between sexism, heteronormativity, racism, colonization, White privilege, globalization, poverty, and climate justice, including with issues of land, territory and sovereignty, water, food, energy, and treatment and extinction of other species. As a result, categorizing some concerns as ‘social justice’ or ‘critical’ issues and others as ‘environmental,’ becomes increasingly untenable. The book thus suggests that more integrative and productive forms of critical education are needed to respond to these complex and pressing socio-ecological conditions.
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In drawing together studies over a 10-year period, we are indebted to many for their contributions to this book. We would like to acknowledge Treaty territories 6, 8, 10, as well as unceded territories, in the central prairie and boreal forest regions and on the west coast of Canada, which generated the people, places, and stories that contributed to this book. We are grateful to the research participants in the three studies included in the book, including youth, teachers, and teacher candidates, for your time and many contributions to the research and to our thinking about education.

We would also like to thank colleagues and graduate students who have participated in various aspects of the research and writing over the past decade, including Shannon Dyck, Jean Kayira, Vince Anderson, Scott Thompson, Karen McIver, Jeh Custerra, Marcel Petit, Clark Ferguson, Geordie Trifa, Aleyna May, Scott Mickelson, Jeff Elliot, Jen McRuer, Jaylene Murray, Nicola Chopin, and the graduate students of the Sustainability Education Research Institute. We would also like to acknowledge organizational collaborators on the Digital Media Project, including Core Neighbourhood Youth Co-op (CNYC), the Open Door Society, Paved Arts, CRU Wellness, the La Loche Friendship Centre, and the Committee for Future Generations. We are grateful for the editing work of Dave Mitchell on portions of the manuscript, series ← ix | x → editors Connie Russell and Justin Dillon, and editor Chris Myers and production editor Sophie Appel at Peter Lang. Thank you to Monique Blom and Alan Reid for...

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