Walking as a Pedagogical, Contemplative Act: How One Special Issue Could (Re)Imagine Your Teaching Practice and Scholarship
Beginning from the assumption that we must learn to wonder as we wander, our writing here aims to advance theory and practice as they relate to walking. We understand walking as both an intentional physical activity and a curricular understanding of traversing with and through landscapes of topical relations in attunement with the Earth. (Lyle, Latremouille, & Jardine, 2021, p. 1).
The opening editorial for this JCACS Special Issue Walking: Attuning to an Earthly Curriculum calls out to curriculum scholars and educators to “learn to wonder as we wander” (Lyle, Latremouille, & Jardine, 2021, p. 1). This piece is a small sampling of the longer journey of reading the entire special issue. It is the best kind of journey, the kind where time suspends while the beauty of language, poetry, and photographs across different perspectives and disciplines slows your breath and provokes reflection. I offer this short post as an invitation to delve into the special issue.
When contemplating pedagogy and curriculum, it is sometimes easier or more familiar to read examples of beautiful and thoughtful work as a way to understand a concept or topic than it is to take action through writing, dancing, singing, or art-making. Reading through the collection, I was drawn in by the connections between theory, practice, and movement, both in my own scholarship and the relationship between all of the articles in this special issue. This vibrant collection of articles celebrates and invites a generous interpretation of movement and journeying.
As a contributor to the special issue, I turned inward during the writing process to articulate my own personal journey of attunement with the Earth through Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing. I do this work to understand how to (re)imagine new possibilities in education. Following the theme of movement and walking, my own process was a learning journey through time, across landscapes, cultures, and memory as a way of understanding theory and practice. For me, the journey was a movement in time towards a growing understanding of Indigenous pedagogies — the physical act of walking was not prevalent in my writing process the way it appears in some of the other articles. This represented the inner circle of deeply personal work, articulated so well by both Navajo scholar Gregory Cajete (1997) and Anishinaabe scholar Vicki Kelly (personal communication, July 10, 2020.)
Preparing to write this response — and invitation — to Walking: Attuning to an Earthly Curriculum, I read all of the articles within the special issue. Whether it be a new journal issue or a book, I typically sit down with a cup of tea, skim the table of contents with anticipation, then pass through the articles somewhat quickly, to get a sense of the overall scope and tone. Reading the articles within this special issue was a journey in itself. As the reader, I traversed “with and through landscapes of topical relations in attunement with the Earth” (Lyle, Latremouille, & Jardine, 2021, p. 1). After my initial read -a meet and greet with the articles and authors, so to speak- I settled in to slowly read each piece. The entire issue is astoundingly pedagogical, inspiring deep thought and reflection about my own practice and personal connections in relation to the Earth, these other authors and their attunement to walking, and the idea of movement.
As I read, my consciousness spiralled between the inner circle of deep personal work located within each article and the outer circle reaching out to connect a topography of what it means to engage with a walking curriculum. The articles illuminate an active attunement to the Earth and our more-than-human relations through the many articulations of physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual movement that form this found poem:
Intertwined with these movement-oriented verbs lies a tension for curriculum scholars as we move into a space that is disruptive to traditional research methodologies. This special issue Walking: Attuning to an Earthly Curriculum invites attunement to and interaction with land and place, and the many lessons that are offered. These provocative articles disrupt colonial language and systems in favour of deep, transformative inquiry, hopefully inspiring educators and curriculum scholars to join this lively, thoughtful conversation.
Cajete, G. (1994). Look to the mountain: An ecology of Indigenous education. Kivaki Press.
Lyle, E., Latremouille, J. & Jardine, D. (2021). Now has always been the time. Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, 18(2), 1–5.