The following is an edited version of our ‘Weathering’ poster presented as part of the session Children’s Common Worlds in Times of Climate Change and ‘Post Truths‘ at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Conference in Toronto, Canada (April, 2019).
Shaping new pedagogies in times of climate change
In our work with young children, we are committed to walking and thinking with weather and weathering. We want to develop pedagogies that do more than teach children about the weather as an abstract concept. Our pedagogies emerge with weather. Our weathering bodies are entangled with weathering worlds. We breathe in air and air flows across our skin. Bodies respond with wind, rain, warmth, and cold. Like Tim Ingold (2015), we think of the weather as something we cannot separate ourselves and our lives from – we are part of “weather worlds.” And, with Astrida Neimanis and Rachel Loewen Walker (2014), who explore the idea that we are all “weather bodies,” we attune to the elements and the ways they mingle with an array of bodies, human and more-than-human.
Weathering talks to us of enduring tough times and resilience. There is also a sense of mutual vulnerability. While humans are vulnerable to raging fires, floods, and storms, our human activity in turn makes earth systems vulnerable to rising temperatures and sea levels. In an era of anthropogenic climate change, we commit to asking questions about human relations with weather, climate, place, and the multitude of more-than-human species and inhabitants who are “weathering together” these chaotic times. Our pedagogies aim to be responsive and offer a mode of connection for children to their weather worlds.
Walking with weather involves noticing weather in all sorts of ways. To understand weather, we go outside. We take regular walks with children, winding our way through local places in any conditions and through all the seasons of the year.
While walking, we respond to everyday weather movements and relations in spaces that come to be understood as lively, unruly, noninnocent, windy, weathered, and generative. We think beyond our own bodies to witness the intermingling of weather with place, animals, and materials across time and space (Rooney, 2019). Children wonder if water marks gouged into rock formations over time were made by dinosaur claws. Such encounters remind us that place is continually being weathered and is weathering the ever-changing elements: both over periods of extended climatic change and through the day-to-day shifts in the weather.
Moving and learning with wind: A weathering-with pedagogy
Wind is invisible.
Children witness its presence through subtle and wild shifts in the landscape, such as swirling dust or leaves through the air. They also feel wind on their skin or notice it as it gusts and blows hats off heads. Children “become wind” when they throw autumn leaves up and then watch them fall. They “make wind” when they exhale on a cold day.
Moving and learning with wind is a swaying, moving, floating, shifting event. It’s multisensory, it’s embodied, it’s connective, it’s affective.
Wind is cold. It chills and leaves us looking around for shelter. Overhead the birds squawk, blurring with the rush of wind around our ears. Children find a sunny sheltered place and settle into collecting sticks and leaves. With wind, children linger in this small, protected valley. They engage with place more closely than usual, and reveal ways that creatures (ourselves included) might seek relief from harsher elements.
Noticing children’s relations with wind helps us to better understand that learning is positioned within an ever-changing landscape, one where we constantly respond to weatherly affects while, over time, wider weather patterns in part reflect back to us the careless effects of human activity.
Weathering together: A more-than-human entanglement
We continue to ask: What does it mean to weather together? How can we shed light on the nature of our (human) responsibility within an entangled more-than-human weather world?
Through these questions, we are inspired to develop new types of environmental pedagogies for young children. It is our hope that these “weathering-with” pedagogies will open up a less humancentric way of coming to know and respond to environmental challenges of our times.
Ingold, T (2015) Life of lines. Routledge: London and New York.
Neimanis, A, and R. Walker. (2014) Weathering: Climate Change and the “Thick Time” of Transcorporeality. Hypatia 29 (3): 558–575.
Rooney, T. (2019) Weathering time: Walking with young children in a changing climate. Children’s Geographies 17(2): 177-189.
Tonya Rooney (Australian Catholic University), Mindy Blaise (Edith Cowan University) and Felicity Royds (Australian Catholic University)