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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 nine—conclusion: a tree of meaning


chapter nine

conclusion: a tree of meaning

Mycelium, constantly on the move, can travel across landscapes up to several inches a day to weave a living network over the land. (Stamets, 2005, p. 1)

…Merleau-Ponty comes in his final writing to affirm that it is first the sensuous, perceptual world that is relational and weblike in character, and hence that the organic, interconnected structure of any language is an extension or echo of the deeply interconnected matrix of sensorial reality itself. Ultimately, it is not human language that is primary, but rather the sensuous, perceptual life-world, whose wild, participatory logic ramifies and elaborates itself in language. (Abram, 1996, p. 84)

I wanted this book to move differently—with some of the wild participatory logic of a mycelial mind—in order that we might come together to recognize the pedagogic significance of the living matrix beneath our thinking and being (and beyond our wanting and doing). Echoes of this polyphonic structure reverberate inside us when we think intensely and beautifully; when it gets into our mouths we call it poetry; when it guides how we walk in the world we call it integrity; when we trace its address as a teaching we call it wisdom; when we eat according to it we feel healthy, good, full of truth.

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