Young children learning with extinction

Year: 2021

Author: Gobby, Brad, Merewether, Jane

Type of paper: Individual Paper

Pre-recorded presentation link: Earth is amidst an acceleration of extinction events caused by ecological destruction and human-induced climate crisis. Extinction is a part of Australian children’s  everyday lives and futures and therefore warrants their learning. This presentation reports on a research project in which young children visited a local site of an unfolding extinction event: Noorook Yalgorup-Lake Clifton and its endangered thrombolites in south-western Australia. Adopting the biocultural view of extinction outlined by the emerging field of Extinction Studies and the related field of Multi-species Studies, this environmental humanities project implicated children in the unravelling of biocultural intergenerational inter-generativity. Our emphasis was on children learning ‘with’ extinction and ‘with’ the world rather than learning ‘about’ extinction and ‘about’ the world, the latter representing the objectifying discourse of knowing as mastery. In this presentation, we speak about: the thrombolites and their ecological community; the ‘curious practice’ approach taken in the study (as described by Donna Haraway); the visits of the researchers and children; and the possibilities for post-Anthropocene pedagogies that cultivate ethical and responsible relations with the nonhuman world.