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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 eight—re-indigenization & the ethics of home-making


chapter eight

re-indigenization & the ethics of home-making

If the root metaphors of modernism—individualism, anthropocentrism, faith in progress—help us understand the ideological origins of pre-ecological thinking, the cultural construct of “colonization” can help us to understand how those assumptions have been expressed in geopolitical practices that impact people and places everywhere. If cultural studies in education are to be rooted in historical and geographical reality, they need somehow to confront the fact that underneath the story of progress and economic development (which undergirds the story of schooling) is the story of colonization. (Greenwood, 2013, p. 285)

“If this is your land,” he asked, “where are your stories?” (Gitksan elder as cited in Chamberlin, 2003, p. 1)

In chapter four we briefly touched on the work of Andrejs Kulnieks, Dan Roronhiake:wen Longboat, and Kelly Young (2010) to get a sense of some of the possible features of an ecohermeneutic curriculum on the ground. In this chapter I would like to return to that curricular vision to parse out some of the specifics and reconsider what it means to conceive of ecohermeneutics as “re-indigenization” in a colonial state. Some of the key curricular features we will address are: connection to an “ecojustice framework,” the ecological significance of oral traditions and Indigenous ways of knowing, and the cultivation of a deep and storied relation with place. Following this overview we will examine the threat of colonial appropriation of “re-indigenization” in light of,...

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