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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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chapter two—mycelia & the hermeneutics beneath us


chapter two

mycelia & the hermeneutics beneath us

Beings eat one another. This is the fundamental business of the world. It is the whole, not any of its parts, that must prevail, and this whole is always changing. There is no indispensable species, and no indispensable culture. Especially not a culture that dreams of eating without being eaten, and that offers the gods not even the guts or the crumbs. (Bringhurst, 2006, p. 44)

Consider what mycelia mean. An interwoven matrix of branching, thread-like hyphae that course and ramify throughout most ecosystems, symbiotically facilitating nutrient uptake, decomposing organic matter, remediating toxic accumulations in the soil, and generating ever-thickening layers of fecund humus (Stamets, 2005). Despite their keystone role in maintaining the health and function of ecosystems, these beings perform primarily beneath our everyday awareness, and most folk remain oblivious to the existence and life-sustaining significance of mycelia. Occasionally, we may happen upon the fruiting bodies of this living, subterranean entanglement (if we live, or make time to go, or are taken to the places where fungi still bloom, and if we pay attention) and only then do we become aware of the vibrant webwork beneath us and, perhaps, if our earthly connection has not been severed or schooled out of us, we are reminded of the interdependent ethos of a “humus-filled” existence.1 ← 18 | 19 →

Mushrooms, depending on the species, have traditionally been accorded magical, mystical and exalted significance in folk traditions and...

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