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Place, Being, Resonance

A Critical Ecohermeneutic Approach to Education


Michael W. Derby

How do we begin to move beyond a use-relation with «natural resources» towards resonance with a deeply interrelated ecology? Place, Being, Resonance brings insights from the hermeneutic tradition, ecopoetics and indigenous epistemologies of place to bear on education in a world of ecological emergency. An ecohermeneutic pedagogy draws on both critical and lyrical ways of thinking to make a free space for encountering the more-than-human other. The conventional school system has long sat at the vanguard of an ecologically exploitative worldview and something more is called for than retrofitting current practices while reinforcing the substructure of modernity. As educators we walk an existentially trying path of attending to what needs to be called into question and for what presses questions upon us. What presuppositions shape our relation with the natural world? How might we work at the level of metaphor to generate the critical distance required for analysis, while keeping hearts and minds open to encounters that might heal our estrangement? How do we learn to both read place and recognize that we are read? Utilizing fungal mycelium as a way of thinking, this inquiry inoculates the fragmented landscape of education in order to bring learning into resonance with being. Here, along the path, the attentive mind finds little bell-shaped fungi scattering the forest floor, calling us home and provoking our thinking to be deeply imaginative when it needs to be.
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How does one acknowledge the confluence of forces giving rise to a thing such as this? Mark Fettes played a formative and sustaining role and it is an honour to acknowledge his extraordinary brilliance as a scholar, his radical spirit as a comrade, and his thoughtful and unremitting support as a friend. Likewise, this would never have been without years of rich conversation, camaraderie and multifarious support from Sean Blenkinsop. I walked for a long time lost in this life, looking for mentors and never expecting to find any —I am glad to have found you (now we can be lost together). I have also been blessed to find my peoples in the newfangled ultra-revolutionary assemblage of ecophilosopher-poets at Simon Fraser University including: Laura Piersol, John Telford, Vicki Kelly, Jodi MacQuarrie, Veronica Hotton, Michael Caulkins, Nora Timmerman, Carlos Ormond and Chloe Humphreys, word up. Thanks for the conversations, and the silent times in the forest.

Revelry and transcendental buffoonery for everyone in the Imaginative Education Research Group. In particular, a respectable dollop of gratitude for Kieran Egan and heartfelt vibes for Gillian Judson, thank you for your important work and for keeping rhythm, wonder and radical epistemic doubt on the table. Also Kym Stewart, Natalia Gajdamaschko, Tim Waddington, Annabella Cant, Joeri Cant, Heesoon Bai, Ann Chinnery, and Michael Ling.

Four scholars fundamentally shaped the thinking in this work and over the past three years I have had the good fortune to meet all of...

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