Wild stories across worlds (and humans)

Year: 2018

Author: Somerville, Margaret, Powell, Sarah

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Wild stories across worlds draws from the second phase of Naming the world. In the first phase new ways of understanding literacy and sustainability, and intersections between them, emerged from twelve months of deep hanging out with young children. When 7 discrete categories were presented to practitioners they experienced an ‘aha’ moment, recognising that sustainability for young children does not mean worm farms and veggie gardens but is inherent in the vitality and lifefulness of: Becoming animal; Bodily immersion water, sand, mud; Artefacts and imaginative play; Naming bodies, naming self; Drumming, singing, dancing, rhythm; Movement, gesture, mime, performance; Becoming plant.
In the second phase of the project, early learning educators were invited to develop ‘innovative pedagogies to inform national and international policy and practice to address 21st century learning imperatives’. While these were developed with the support of the researchers in a difficult transition from researcher to educator phases, the project soon took off in completely unexpected directions, developing wings of its own to fly to all corners of the world and generate new and exciting data. We understand lateral as referring to the unexpected directions of flight, and wild to the innovative ways of thinking about engagement and impact following Nigel Thrift’s proposal that wild ideas arise when complex questions invite the world to speak back and take part in the production of possible futures.
The story begins at Djaralingi Early Learning Centre spreading tendril-like mist-fingers, drifting, searching the world/s, and encircling Villentarha in Finland and Auchlone in Scotland. Connections through the air/mist of the world are created, free to move where they please. A wild force brings things together from across oceans and lands and thoughts and imaginings and despite physical distancing they exist only in relation to each other in that moment. Through these wildly lateral directions, the project’s engagement and impact spreads across all different realms – humans, countries, places, animals, plants, and seasons.
As well as Finnish language, stories are brought forth in Chinese and Arabic script and German language when ethnic parents translate their children’s stories. The process involves directors, practitioners, children and families collecting and disseminating stories about seasons, climate, weather, animals, plants, and children’s bodies, clothing and personal interests. In analyzing this data we ask how is research transformed in its worldly entanglements and what wild ideas about engagement and impact are generated when the world is invited to speak back.