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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 three—the ecopoetics of education


chapter three

the ecopoetics of education

It starts with rhythm, that much I know. I mean the way the poem moves in time—its pace and gait and proportions. A poem can unfold with the shapely aplomb of a gavotte, or meander, or move with a quicksilver stutter and glide. Each rhythm shapes the energy flow with a distinct logic; each parses the world with a syntax of its own. A poem thinks by the way it moves.

But that raises another question, for rhythmic logic is not conceptual. How can you translate its native terms into categories your mind can deal with? How do you talk about moves your body grasps in a flash? (Lee, 2002, pp. 19–20)

A poem thinks by the way it moves. It conveys meaning by the way it unfolds and approaches, by the way it dances a rhythmic logic on the page, by its very form of being (or, we might say, by the way it imaginatively mimics the gestures of being beneath the words). One is tempted to say all writing thinks by the way it moves (this includes, of course, all the dimensions of experience that can be methodically omitted, flattened, reified). Academic papers also convey meaning, in part, by the way in which they parse experience with a paradigmatic logic; as do love letters, analytical essays and preposterous books on educational philosophy and fungi. This is not to claim these things think...

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