Activating weathering-with pedagogies in early childhood

Year: 2018

Author: Blaise, Mindy, Rooney, Tonya

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Recent feminist environmental humanities scholars (including Astrida Neimanis, Deborah Bird Rose, Lesley Instone), are responding to the perception that climate change is too abstract and this makes it difficult for us to make a difference. They do this by drawing attention to bodies, relations, and movements with the weather. Inspired by these ideas, Tonya Rooney (2018) proposes that there is potential in working with child weather relations as a pedagogical response to making climate change more connected and immediate for young children. Mindy Blaise and colleagues (2016) show how ‘matters of fact’ dominate early childhood teaching and call for new pedagogies that attend to ‘matters of concern’, such as climate change. Producing matters of concern however requires a paradigm shift and the dominant discourse of developmentalism makes this difficult to do.
Building on these ideas, this paper shows how we (Rooney and Blaise) have started to engage with the field of early childhood to generate matters of concern. In particular, we are working with educators and children in one Canberra-based childcare centre to invent weathering-with pedagogies that are situated, experimental, embodied, relational, and ethical. Our inquiry is part of an international Climate Action Network, including 8 sites across Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, and Peru. This paper shows how we initially engaged with educators to activate new thinking about weather and weather relations. Children’s literature and weather walking were used as provocations to invent new relational pedagogies that respond to everyday weather movements and flows. As a result, new weathering-with pedagogies, such as winding, sparking and squishing, were created and will be discussed in this presentation.  Possibilities, tensions, and challenges of doing such work will also be explored.