Common worlding pedagogies: cultivating the ‘arts of awareness’ with tracking, compost, and death




Nelson, Narda

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This thesis foregrounds moments from an early childhood centre’s multispecies inquiry to grapple with the question of what pedagogies and practice might need to look and feel like to create the conditions for new ways of thinking and doing with other species in troubling times. Drawing on post-foundational feminist conceptual frameworks, it takes an interdisciplinary approach to challenging dominant narratives about young children’s more-than-human relations in a rapidly changing world. In the first chapter, I discuss tracking with young children as a generative method for cultivating the arts of awareness and opening up our understandings of place relations. In the second chapter, I reconfigure care as a multispecies achievement to explore the question of what it means to care with and not just for the creatures who thrive inside of an early childhood centre’s worm-compost bin. In it, I juxtapose compost inquiry moments with the material consequences of out-of-sight-out-of-mind approaches to managing our untenable food waste in contemporary Canadian society. In the final chapter, I share moments from an early childhood centre’s unexpected encounter with a dying rat to rethink children’s relations with death in an age of accelerated mass extinctions. What does it mean to care with a creature few want to claim, but with whom we are connected in unsettling ways?



early childhood, ethics, Anthropocene, compost, death, nature