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Teddy, do I need access to twenty kinds of cereal and toothpaste?

Student 24's picture

Response to Chapter Four: "What is imaginative ecological education?" (having missed class)

I was pleasantly surprised at the turn of every page how most of the questions I'd asked in response to one part of the reading would be discussed in the following paragraphs, which reassured me when I'd doubt some of the claims of the reading.

That being said, I'd still like to discuss some of these things myself, or simply point out things that caught my attention.

abstract binary oppositions, metaphor

I found this to be curious because of how often this and last semester I have heard and used the phrase "rejecting the binary." It seems to be a common theme either at Bryn Mawr or just in general when it comes to growing up, expanding horizons, seeking more liberal-, independent-, and open-mindedness. There is certainly a convenience of dealing with a subject by splitting it into categories, be it two or three or more, and for the sake of teaching, it is easier to teach an organization of 0's and 1's rather than 0.000000, 0.000001, 0.000002, 0.000003, etc. ad nauseum, and the infinitely complicated nature of explaining the world in spectrums.
As for metaphors - and this is just a thought and not said with too much contemplation - I'm curious about making comparisons, again for the ease of teaching explaining, when a child understands the process of one concept, and using that as a parallel platform to teach another concept. This is truly useful and powerful in terms of it being a platform, but if examined thoroughly, surely one could find metaphors that form dangerous associations that can turn into harmful subconscious attitudes or behaviours.

Being active, involvement with play and sport

Sports, individual or team, are where children learn about commitment, perseverance, ability, disability, limits, and teamwork. It’s also where children learn the satisfaction and pride of achievement and fulfillment. The desire to re-experience this emotion then drives a child to continue achieving goals, and if the achievement of that goal requires the cost of others not achieving that goal, then this creates competition among children. Competitive environment can harvest some types of negativity. Then again, isn’t it natural to be competitive? To want to succeed and survive and achieve the best of what is available? Should natural and environmental education convert us into the natural, approaching-animalistic beings that we are?

Learning through interference, "what interfered with their experience?"

Quick thought: I sometimes feel like there are two types of learning I experience. The kind where something “clicks” and becomes clear in my head, and I am accepting or simply coming to the realization that I accept what I’ve learned. The other kind is where I feel friction with something, and through that friction I learn about myself and where I stand in relation to the thing. So, something can interfere with my learning experience, but an interference can also make me learn something. If an interference causes friction, then I can be made aware of something, and learn.

Adults recreating the mind of a child

Reading all these texts written by adults about education for children, I wonder about how the adult mind regards the infant or child mind. Every adult has been a child and has experienced life through the mind of a child. When does life split, stop being a child’s life, and begins being an adult’s or a pre-adult’s life? What is a child? I don’t know how well I can articulate this, but I just find it so peculiar that we can objectively separate children’s minds and learning habits from those of adults. We don’t split off from our child selves when we grow up; in fact, our child selves are the core of our adult selves. We’re like trees. Our minds and characters have formed concentric rings around our child selves, and our child selves are someone preserved by but also central to our entire selves. That being said, as adults, when we study the minds of children, we’re studying and theorizing through our own child minds and especially through our memories of learning experiences. We know best how we ourselves have learned something and how we learned as children. On a fundamental level, our own experiences should make the most sense to ourselves, so how do we separate from that to study this phenomenon of the child mind? Should we even be separate?

Sense of place, bioregionalism, security

These ideas relate to my last education paper and the ideas the Obama expressed about children in difficult neighbourhoods. If children aren’t offered an environment where they feel safe, secure, where they feel society has welcoming offered them a place to call home, then it may be difficult to develop the kind of fondness for a local place that can lead into love of the environment.


There is a lot discussed about children being aware of their context, their place, and their culture, and how the embracing of and connection with those things with lead to a passionate identity of care and concern for their local place. This just makes me uncomfortable, and I have a bad gut feeling about it; it feels dangerously close-minded. Even people who have spent their entire lives in one place, in one culture, with one people - these people can still have other identities that are not accepted in the identity of that local context and culture. I don't want, right here, to enter a discussion on the extent to which culture plays a role in shaping sexual orientation and identity, but if that identity is rejected by the fully-culturally-immersed members of a context, then the others are excluded. Or, can a single cultural and local identity mean that sexual identity does not matter? Can that be? Because if the cultural environment is not welcoming to everyone, then the others will be incompatible and unable to contribute.

raise awareness of relationship between the trees outside and the fact that in a supermarket we can purchase twenty kinds of cereal or toothpaste

This is just an idea I had while reading this chapter. We can teach children about the rhythms and patterns of natural life and use our senses and poetic language in imagination to appreciate the ladybugs and trees in a city park or in the backyard - but where is mention of the global trade economy, and corporations, and mass production of plastic toys, and clothes, and food, and hygiene products? Where do we put those two realities side by side and make the connection between local natural life and the monstrous out-of-sight factories that provide us with so much convenience?

"Grasping situation," innate biophilia

I have to ask, with all this talk of fostering a relationship between natural and human worlds... Does nature want a relationship with humans? They write "innate biophilia" to give the impression that the human nature within us, which is nature, is leading us to love other living things in nature. Nature having a relationship with nature? Now I'm confused...

shopping malls, accepting consumption as part of our culture

I guess I did just mention this about production and corporations... Humanity produces and consumes so much stuff. It's frightening. But more is better, and we don't complain subconsciously. We adapt quickly and it's much easier to get used to having more than to having less, so naturally, we progress in the direction of "the more the merrier."

teddy bear, security, "emotional connection with larger pieces of terrain"

I've slept with my teddy bear for as long as I've been alive. It's a stuffed piece of fabric in the shape of a bear with two eyes, a nose, and a red smiley-face which my mother stitched on when I was 8 years old because I would cry every morning, leaving for school, and having to part with a smile-less bear. I can't lie that he is one of my most important material possessions. And when I think about him I don't see the factory, the assembly line, the machines, the corporation, the millions of identical mass-produced teddy bears. I see my individual, singular, loved, teddy and because my child mind grew up with that perspective, it remains as such in my mental core, and that's why it's so difficult to tear myself away, detach myself, and try to picture the entire planet as a grey, smokey, smoggy, polluted factory, choking on itself and coming close to starvation with all these depleting natural resources.