Childhoodnature relations in the Anthropocene: reconfiguring an ecological posthumanist pedagogy for environmental education

Year: 2017

Author: Malone, Karen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Research in environmental education has revealed that regardless of specific cultural nuances, the opportunity to engage with the nonhuman world within the place and spaces where a child lives influences a child's life experiences, their forming of an ecological identity and their potential for different types of environmental learning. Places found close to a child's home, for instance, can offer a set of opportunities, phenomena, events, that support children developing their sense of being in ecological community with others; to be worldly with, and to become something different. These ecological encounters help the child to explore significant concepts central to the Anthropocene such as humans are not somehow exempt or exceptional to the ecologies of the planet. In this presentation I will provide a series of ecological posthumanist stories of children's urban lives where I am employing posthumanist and new materialist theoretical approaches in order to attend to the complexities of children's encounters with the nonhuman world. Picking up on the fact that Anthropocene scientists have amassed evidence that human and natural forces, fates and futures are inextricably entwined, these broader debates highlight that it is now time for education scholars to move beyond the entrenched humanist paradigms that frame their disciplines and which are still premised upon our separation from (and superiority to) the natural world. To live together as well as possible in an altered and damaged world requires new ways of being and knowing our entangled lives - it is to pursue the more modest but still challenging goal of learning how to cohabit the world in ways that allows all species to 'flourish'. What I offer in the paper is a pedagogy of ecological posthumanism for environmental education. A pedagogy that draws attention to the challenges and questions a business as usual approach in the Anthropocene.