What daydreams are made ofOutdoor times, red spades, imaginary hedgehogs and utter familiarity

Year: 2018

Author: Rautio, Pauliina, Vladmirova, Anna

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper is based on visits made to a small Northern Finnish kindergarten during one spring, and recurring visits to a forest with school children over the past year. Nested within a larger ARC-funded project our studies sought to map things and beings the children spend their outdoor times with. In this paper the ‘wildly lateral’ is present as the more-than-human community and the utterly familiar turning into daydreams of  present and of the future.
The kindergarten is housed in a 100-year old wooden building. There are about 25 children and 3-4 adults / teachers present. Most of the toys and materials for the children both inside and out in the yard are old and recycled / up-cycled / thrifted. Pauliina visited the kindergarten for one spring, once a week, during the outdoor free play time (1,5-2 hrs). During those visits she played with children as they requested, talked with them, did basic participant observation, and had them carry an action camera.
The forest that children and Anna visited, encircles an old swamp which arose from the sea 2000 years ago. This ecosystem is home to myriads of organisms. Anna engaged with them and 438 primary-school children applying curious practice (Haraway, 2015). She attempted to observe multiple encounters of forest and kids with a hope of being opened to unique knowledges/literacies they generated. She also challenged herself to possible versions of the seen/heard in the framework of the (non)imaginable.
The insights have to do with the significance of 'utter familiarity’ of these environments with all of the things and beings - ranging from the buildings to the trees, from the play pots and pans to the imaginary resident hedgehog. How this familiarity materialises in the literal wearing down of these things by countless bodies of children, some for over three decades.
The children are intimately aware of where each and every thing belongs. This familiarity produces and sustains engaged and creative play – a kind of poetry in motion, where children and things flow into each other and with each other, perhaps gaining a literacy for ’daydreaming’. ”I will become a chef one day”, ”I AM a grand pianist, everyone – listen!",  “I am a spirit of the forest”. The impact of these ‘wildly lateral’ communities is located in the emerge of future dreams out of utter familiarity.
Haraway, D. (2015). A curious practice. Angelaki, 20(2), 5–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/ 0969725X.2015.1039817