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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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introduction—how to love black snow by David W. Jardine



how to love black snow


Despite the likely alien and awkward feel of the concepts involved, we might, when hearing a sutra, experience a quite innocent sense of wonder—a brief moment of almost childlike, delightful surprise, perhaps colored by a subtle tone of promise and potential. In line with the teachings set out in this book, we might say that just such a brief clearing within simple, unprepared wonder is what constitutes the awakening of faith in the Great Vehicle.

From the “Translators’ Introduction” to Ornament of the Great Vehicle Sutras:Maitreya’s Mahayanasutralamakara (Doctor, 2014, p. vii)

Now little riverbed stones impress upon my bare feet the aggregate intelligence of form and fit, particular trees stand tall in my memory as pedagogically significant, the cheap yellow paint on my pencil peels and reveals flesh—what kind of mushrooms are these? From somewhere deep within the inquiry, beneath the words—how is it possible!—a world approaches. (p. 2)

From chapter one—this is the mystery: meaning

This book is worth every moment of while it takes to read it. It must be read as carefully as mushrooms that always just might be poisonous even if delicious, just might be nourishing even if acrid. We are in a fix—pedagogically, ecologically, in body and mind and otherwise—and it’s going to take some doing to even start undoing this fix.

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