Paying attention to the apples

Shared by Lisa-Marie Gagliardi

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An old apple tree stands in the childcare centre playground. The sporadic spring weather slowed the growth of the apples this summer and in late summer the apples fall to the ground before ripening. The children are curious to taste these apples and snack on them outside the routinized eating times in the childcare schedule. Local racoons and bees also join to chew at the apples. The apples are sweet invitations to the children, bees and racoons to take part in a late summer buffet. Educators walking through the garden frequently trip on small, half-eaten, decomposing apples.

These encounters elicited a variety of responses in the childcare centre. Some educators were concerned with public health regulations and the increasing amount of visiting animals’ excrements in the playground. With developmental concerns at the forefront, some of the apples were instrumental learning tools in sink/float activities, displays for representational drawing, props for dramatic play. Amid the child-centered practices continuing on in the childcare centre, I wondered: What might happen if we paid attention to the more-than-human common worlds? What kinds of relations might we notice when we decenter the human? How might our relations to knowledge and the knowability of the world shift?

Paying attention to everyday more-than-human encounters resituates the human within more-than-human common worlds. Noticing the ways in which we relate with others in our common worlds opens possibilities for alternative narratives that are not concerned with achievable goals or progress or personal gain. In this sense, the arts of noticing (Tsing, 2015) has twofold implications: 1) the act of noticing requires an ontological shift in how we attend to emerging stories in early childhood education, and 2) the work of noticing disrupts the neoliberal logics inherent in education practices that conform to dominant narratives of productivity, efficiency, and utilitarianism.

How might we, as a collective, enact opportunities to notice differently and to ask different questions beyond developmental skill-building? What might it do to slow down and notice how humans are inextricably entangled in common food worlds? How might we cultivate an attention to the incoherences and partialities of emerging co-composed foodworlds that are endlessly shaping and reshaping multispecies lives?

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References

Tsing, A. L. (2015). The mushroom at the end of the world: On the possibility of life in the capitalist ruins. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.



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