Bark movements: Activating relational complexity in early childhood

Year: 2016

Author: Blaise, Mindy, Hamm, Catherine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper sets out to challenge the representational logic that works hard to tame, simplify, and control young children’s learning. As a challenge to this kind of logic, we are involved in an experimental and multisensory ethnography of Stony Creek, with a childcare centre in Victoria, Australia. Weekly, we go ‘out and about’ with a group of young children and their teachers to the Bark Studio, which is located beside Stony Creek. It is here, where we are encountering bark movements. We wonder, “How does movement let knowing happen?”, and are intrigued by the question because it challenges the idea that knowing presupposes what is to be known, or that knowing presupposes the subject. By thinking with movement, movements of thought (Manning, 2009), and the materiality of bark, we show how bark movements (scratchings, rhythms, rubbings) put into motion the relational potential of the bark. Several encounters with bark, wind, paper, water, dirt, child bodies, and dogs will be explored. We will show how we are putting thinking into movement and more movement into thinking and how this makes room for relational complexity. Relational complexity activates new practices that unleash, complicate, and open-up learning in early childhood education.