I want to continue to tease out what is meant by ecopedagogies- of course this is a work in progress, an emergent process, and it would be great to hear what you think about the term and some of the ideas laid out here…Tonia and I have been musing on it for about 30 years (although not under this umbrella), since we first met in a school in the Southern Highlands of NSW where we both found ourselves teaching Wilderness as an elective subject. We started to explore the students’ reactions and relationship to wild areas they hiked though, canoed into, rock climbed out of and slid muddily underground via limestone caves. We were also noticing our own responses, both to the kids, each unique environment, the different gendered reactions and the challenging activities. For me, there was a lot of fear and I could so relate to many students experiencing the same. But there was also an exhilaration in getting to the top of a mountain, of abseiling down a cliff, of hiking over a canyon, despite the fear.
Ecopedagogies insist on the primacy of our relationship with the natural world and of the direct experiencing of nature. Of course, it can’t be denied, there can be vicarious experiences of the natural world, as many gamers attest to, and they can be quite powerful, but there is no substitute for one’s experience directly with nature. Paul Shepard talks about this in his book Nature and Madness (1982) when he looks to our hunter-gatherer heritage as comprising two births: one birth from the biological mother; the other birthing into Nature itself. He says ‘there is no substitute for growing up in the natural world’. In this context, ‘outdoor’ education takes on a broader conceptualisation that what it has been associated with in Australia to date. Ecopedagogies may include structured learning situations outdoors, such as that done through schools, pre-schools and universities; or learning in less formal educational structures, like scouts, girl guides, community gardens, permaculture groups, environmental groups, gardening clubs, etc. The ‘felt’ experience, the ‘lived’ experience may be approximated in other forms of our high tech world, but it cannot be replicated! Cheers, Carol
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