Artists as Emplaced Pedagogues: How Does Thinking About Children’s Nature Relations Influence Pedagogy?
In this chapter, we explore some of the work of an arts and well-being charity in the UK called Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI), a group of artists, educators, parents, and researchers with an interest in how the arts can transform lives. CCI projects aim to open up spaces for creativity, actively engaging with people of all ages and backgrounds. Much of their work involves connecting children to the outdoors. We describe and discuss how the artist pedagogues working with CCI perceive and articulate the positionality of the children they work with in relation to nonhuman nature and the significance of the imagination in this regard. We then reflect on what this positionality means for posthuman perspectives on the stewardship approach, arguing that humans being both a part of and apart from nature have important consequences for our capacity to steward the Earth. These artists and children work together in spaces with meaning for children; as such, their work fits with the theoretical framework of pedagogies of place. We explore how the artists conceive of “place” in their work with children and how this influences the way they situate children in relation to both human and nonhuman nature, highlighting the data on the role of imagination in this relation. The chapter emerges from ongoing exploratory case study research involving thematic analysis of data from a focus group discussion and individual interviews with the artist pedagogues, as well as archival material from the charity. In our discussion of the findings of our study, we reflect on the usefulness of the notion of childhoodnature in this context, showing how this charity’s work can contribute to its conceptualization and what it can contribute to current debates around the validity and usefulness of the stewardship approach.
KeywordsPlace-responsive pedagogy Artists Stewardship Imagining
This chapter emerges from a focus group discussion with Elena Arevalo Melville, Debbie Hall, Susanne Jasilek, Helen Stratford, Sally Todd, Caroline Wendling and Deb Wilenski. This group of artistic women shared their experiences of working with children at the intersection of nature and creativity with us, and so much of the text has been “written” by them. We are inspired by your work and grateful to you for sharing it with us. We would also like to thank David Whitley for his support and advice in undertaking this research.
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