Teaching and learning in respectful reciprocity : an autoethnographical account of an educator’s apprenticeship to nature
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SubjectAutoethnography; Environmental Education; Nature as Teacher; Phenomenology; Place-Bonding; Site-Sitting
As an environmental educator, I am interested in helping students learn from the natural world. In this phenomenological autoethnography, I outline some major lessons I learned from local nature while site-sitting, listening, reflecting and journaling by the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta. In apprenticing myself to the beings around me and paying attention to what they could tell me, I learned to let their teachings flow through me to tell a story about what can emerge when one fully pays attention. Inspired by traditional knowledge and worldviews, I developed an ethic of respect and reciprocity with the land around me and its inhabitants. Four fundamental themes emerged: paying attention, community, patterns and cycles, and belonging. I concluded that the natural world is a wonderful model of resilient communities and reciprocity, and that there are many ways for educators to allow Nature to be a respected co-teacher. This autoethnographic work was transformative, bringing forth a more reflexive worldview and allowing me to see the world as alive, animate, and full of teachers. Ultimately, I hope that these lessons can serve as an invitation for others to begin seeing the world with new eyes too.
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