Micro-politics in places and a search for contingent pedagogies

Year: 2017

Author: Dunn, Irish, Galvez Donoso, Sarita, Sommerville, Margaret, Powell, Sarah, Wood, Annette

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Children are now born into a world in turmoil; species, languages, and even microbial life that still existed when the child was born, might no longer exist when the child begins to name the world. This symposium explores the micro-politics of how to learn to belong to places amongst tumultuous change as an urgent issue for education.
A focus on micro-politics asks difficult questions about the power relationships between species and matter to inform contingent pedagogies. Do humans, as a species amongst other species, have a particular responsibility in an ethical sense to sustain life? How are children learning to name life-sustaining relationships across species and matter? What new imaginings become possible when sustaining multispecies relationships are named? What happens when children learn to recognise the agency of matter in learning encounters?
The symposium explores data from five early learning sites to offer insights that illuminate how a micro-politics of place opens fresh perspectives for learning with young children. Each symposium paper will present a different analysis of micro-politics with particular emphasis on the specificities of place. Paying close attention to differences in places enables us to engage critically with the micro-politics across places that unfold when children, adults, animals and matter encounter each other. Paying attention to micro-politics in unfolding encounters involves a mapping of relationships between and across humans, animals, plants and matter to develop intensities, tensions and possibilities for learning with human and non-human others.
Each paper presents a learning encounter in time and place. We hypothesise that the pedagogies that support learning in each event are contingent, fleeting, place-specific and non-transferable. We argue that contingent and place-specific pedagogies are invaluable for children's learning at a time of unpredictable change when humans as one species amongst all others have to learn to adapt to planetary change.
The four papers in this symposium tackle these complex questions by introducing contingent pedagogies that respond to micro-politics of time and place. Micro-politics provide insights into how contingent place-specific pedagogies enable shifts in perception, which can lead to shifts in relationality through naming between humans, animals, matter. Such shifts create conditions that are conducive to an ongoing openness towards new ways of relating and naming the world that support life while becoming response-able to ongoing inequities, damaging practices, and historical injustices.