Editors’ Note – Studying: An Invitation to Early Childhood Education

Our conversation with Dr. Walter Kohan emerged from a conference that he had convened alongside colleagues at Center for Philosophies and Childhoods of the Rio de Janeiro State University on the theme of study that Fikile attended. The conversations and facilitated place encounters (what Walter describes in the interview as errant exercises) in the conference struck Fikile as highly pertinent to the work of a pedagogist. For instance, we engaged in practicing and co-theorizing study as collective, relational and improvisational – in relation with human and more than human co-participants. We engaged in place encounters that provoked dialogues on the “where of study” including the mattering of place, time, space, slowness, movement and their affective resonances in collective study. The conversation with Walter included in this issue also takes up how questions of context, time and movement are inherent to study; including in holding possibilities to resist current neoliberal and neocolonial conditions of life both within and beyond institutional contexts. In this discussion, Walter provides us with thought provoking orientations for the mattering of study in working as pedagogists concerned with early childhood pedagogical orientations that imagine, enact and nurture more livable, relational worlds alongside early childhood educators.

The conversation between Dr. Kathleen Kummen and Barbara Pytka – who are both immersed in pedagogist work within the context of the education of future early childhood educators – shares resonances with Walter’s interview in that both are concerned with noticing the ways in which current neoliberal conditions impact education. The authors speak to the striations of conceptualizing educational study through a focus on measures, assessment and productivity. Kathleen and Barbara speak to this specifically in relation to pressures faced by college professors seeking to undertake in-depth pedagogical work with future early childhood educators amidst neoliberal constraints. This conversation is an important reminder that pedagogists’ work necessitates navigating the complexities and contradictions of becoming a subject within conditions marked by hyper-individualization of systemic conditions. What might become possible from carefully attending and responding to responsibility, desire, and anxious subjectivity (de Lissovoy, 2018) as onto-epistemologies that intimately shape pedagogical work with early childhood educators?

Lindsay Sparkes’, a pedagogist with the Pedagogist Network of Ontario, article in part speaks back to the preceding question within the situated context of a pedagogical inquiry on food waste. The article makes visible the work of a pedagogist in supporting educators in situated food waste curriculum-making that enacts a turn away from neoliberal individualized, human-centric responsibility and consumptive desire in waste relations (see also Pacini-Ketchabaw & MacAlpine, 2022 ). Important aspects of this interruptive immersion in waste relations include paying attention and responding collectively where children, educators, food, critters and more are all active participants. It is also interesting to notice the multiple ways in which this article intersects with Walter ’s theorizations of temporality, childhoods and study (see our conversation in this issue). For instance, Lindsay writes about pedagogical engagements with interconnected human/more-than-human temporalities that involve slowing down and attuning to children’s affective relationalities. Perhaps then this work at London Bridge Children’s Centre, as narrated by Lindsay, shares resonance with expansive understandings of study that embrace multiple inter-disciplinary, planned, emergent and speculative forms of knowing and becoming-with human and more-than-human relations.

The final article in this issue is a conversation between three pedagogists with the Pedagogist Network of Ontario, Gabrielle Warren, Danielle Wittick and Lisa Johnston on the material-discursive complexities of enacting and conceptualizing care as pedagogists in early childhood education contexts. This discussion touches on many important considerations. For instance, it underlines how discourses of professionalization can commodify care, and points to the importance of viewing care in expansive ways beyond individual acts. The expansive view of care that Gabrielle, Danielle and Lisa share includes foregrounding mutual constellatory relations, of which the more-than-human is an intrinsic part. Importantly the conversation reminds us that early childhood education is also a space at which to notice and collectively respond to organized abandonment (Gilmore, 2020) under current neoliberal, colonial and capitalist conditions. They ask, for instance, how might the work of an early childhood pedagogist engage with an orientation that resists reproducing colonial care? What might it look like to work alongside refusal as a form of care or to enact, as Christina Sharpe (2018) reminds us, care as shared risk? We see these questions, alongside all of the offerings in the issue, as generative openings for situating pedagogist work within current challenging times – times that demand both deep study and collective response.

College Professors: Actors¹ in Early Childhood Education

Kathleen Kummen (Ph.D, ECE) is the Co-Director of BC Early Childhood Pedagogy Network and the Chair of the School of Education and Childhood Studies at Capilano University .

Barbara Pytka (RECE) is a College Professor in the School of Early Childhood Education at Seneca Polytechnic.

¹ The use of the term “actors” was inspired by the Actor Network Theory. Tara Fenwick writes extensively on the use of Actor Network Theory in education. She suggests that our realities are an enactment of many actors working together in assemblages. For further exploration of Fenwick’s work visit Fenwick (2010). 

Barbara: In his book “The Burnout Society,” Byung-Chul Han (2015) suggests that our society is preoccupied with achievement and productivity. The obsession with the never-satisfying drive for optimizing achievement and performance leads us to a level of a pathological state. This state includes burnout, depression, hyperactivity, profound boredom, sameness and becoming “achievement-subjects” (p. 8). We willingly challenge ourselves to become the best we can be and there is never a finish line. These dispositions are amplified by the lauding of agreeableness and positivity so much so that we have become accustomed to responding with “yes, we can” to all our life’s demands (Han, 2015, p. 8). According to Han, these dispositions are internal rather than external forces that propel us toward becoming “entrepreneurs” of ourselves (2015, p. 8).

Undoubtedly, the culture of achievement and productivity has found its way into early childhood education preparatory programs. It is true, now more than ever, that college professors are pressured to ensure that their “yes, we can” capacity is unlimited. From my experience, in their already abundant lists of responsibilities, college professors believe that their success depends on their continuous positive response to the pressure to achieve. For example, today’s college professors agree to work longer hours to learn to use constantly changing technological tools to teach students in various delivery modes, such as in-person and online, both synchronous and asynchronous. They push themselves to better support the overwhelming number of international students studying Canadian early childhood education.

As achievement subjects, college professors in early childhood education urge themselves to learn and innovate their assessment methods in response to ever-changing societal technical developments, such as the introduction of ChatGPT. They also willingly exploit themselves in consulting many students who leave the early childhood program after experiencing the current state of post-COVID-19 programs for young children in their practicums.

How do you think a culture of achievement, productivity, and entrepreneurs in early childhood education programs contributes to the formation of students’ professional identity, and what influence may it have on the future of the field? 

Kathleen: You have asked a critical question that requires all of us in education to consider the current conditions that necessitate starting a conversation around the education of future educators and thinking about a culture of achievement, productivity, and entrepreneurship. This is an important reminder that early childhood education and the education of future educators are deeply related to the social, political, and technological conditions of our times. A recent article written by the Early Childhood Pedagogies Collaboratory (2023) problematized the narrative that investment into early childhood education is essential to ensuring the growth of the Canadian economy. Their concern is that when the dominant public conversation around implementing a Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care program privileges economic concerns instead of educational issues, we neglect to think about early childhood education as a project of world and citizen-making. When focusing on economic growth, early childhood education is reduced to an instrumental economic endeavor, ignoring the field’s rich possibilities. 

In 2014, Cristina Delgado Vintimilla wrote about how she was often questioned by her colleagues and others for introducing students to neoliberalism in early childhood education classes. Her response was to make visible how neoliberalism functions in and regulates early childhood education conditions that make possible very particular ways of being an early childhood educator. Your question requires us to carefully think with Vintimilla to articulate how the economic constructs of neoliberalism and its social consequences permeate early childhood education and produce educators that understand education from that perspective. Once we have a clear understanding of what occurs when education is an economic issue, we can work to make space for pedagogical matters in education. We can then ask more relevant and urgent questions, such as how we might co-construct curriculum that responds to the conditions of 21st-century educators.

Barbara: I agree that we need to clearly understand what is jeopardized when conceptualizing education as an economic issue. For me, we first need to identify and acknowledge the important roles of the many actors involved in the universalization of the present early childhood system. In particular, I would like to discuss community colleges as preparatory institutions for educators and powerful actors in the field.

As you know, in Ontario, in accordance with the College of Early Childhood Educators’ 2021 report, 95% of educators working with children and their families enter the field with only a two-year college diploma. There is no incentive for educators to continue their education above the basic preparatory level and pursue opportunities to enhance their academic dispositions (attitudes associated with commitment to lifelong learning). Focusing only on the college diploma in early childhood education is problematic, as community colleges are “focused on meeting the needs of the economy” (Cox & Sallee, 2018, p. 74). This is manifested in aims to produce registered early childhood educators as quickly as possible, to meet shortage demands within the field. In this way, students’ learning is dependent on establishing quick and efficient processes that move students through schooling into the field as quickly as possible. Unlike the structure of university programs, in college programs, professors are pressured to produce workers through whatever means necessary (Dennison & Gallagher, 2014. p. 77), which often translates to making theoretical concepts “accessible”. For example, this might look like providing short and easy articles to students, using quizzes for testing, creating ready-to-use educational tools, such as checklists, templates and step-by-step directions, and constructing assignments rooted in memorizing standards, rules, and procedures.  

What are your thoughts on the consequences of these instrumental, reproducible approaches to pre-service education for early childhood educators? 

Kathleen: The assertion that teacher education merely recycles technical practices is not a recent concern. George Counts, in an editorial written in 1935 for the Teacher College Record, strongly criticized the increase in the length of teacher education from two years to four if the mechanistic emphasis on practicality over transformative practices were to remain. Over ten years ago, Kirylo and McNulty (2011), in their introduction to a special issue of Childhood Education, asserted that early childhood and elementary teacher education programs are facing unprecedented demands for change to meet the needs of children in the 21st century. They express concern that, unfortunately, this call for change is often met with practices that reflect “a belief that teaching is a technical skill—a belief they feel ignores “the complexity and political nature of teaching” (p. 316). 

The consequence of a neoliberal approach to the education of future educators is that post-secondary programs are at risk of being implicated into practices that contribute to the deskilling of early childhood educators. I use the term deskilling, to imply the reduction of the knowledge, dispositions and skills that are considered necessary to work as an early childhood educator.  As difficult as it may be, post-secondary instructors must come together to consider our obligations to our students and the young children they will work with. The knowledge, ideas, values, and beliefs privileged in post-secondary classrooms make possible the pedagogical practices that provide children with the types of educational spaces they deserve – or not. If we want students to become educators that respond to the conditions of 21st-century life, then we, as their educators, need to create classrooms that nurture specific student dispositions.

As the educators of educators, we should be asking: what are the practices of our post-secondary classroom that contribute to our students engaging in practices that are ethical, situated, or meaningful when they become educators? How are we taking up the practice of critical reflection in our own pedagogical choices in the post-secondary classroom and collectively as departments when we are making curricular decisions?  For example, let’s consider a course that has, as a learning objective, to consider how societal values and beliefs (e.g., gender, race, and culture) affect educational practice. As educators we need to reflect on how we are taking up this objective in pedagogical practices that make visible and disrupt the taken-for-granted assumptions all of us hold around children and childhood. Dahlberg, Moss, and Pence (2013) argue that if we disrupt these dominant discourses of children, childhood might more easily be recognized as a social construct and children might more easily be seen, not as universal entities, but as complex, diverse, and, at times, contradictory. This recognition would make space to open the possibility of multiple ways to provide early childhood education programs for children and families. The question, then, is how might we as educators curate the conditions that will support students in an inquiry to displace or unhinge taken-for-granted notions of children and childhood. How do we create the pedagogical conditions so that students can engage in a process of collective learning, that like any inquiry worth its salt, makes spaces for new questions and curiosities that are unexpected, and disrupt our thinking in unanticipated ways?

As professors, I think we have an obligation to create early childhood education programs where students can conceptualize early childhood as a space to create more livable worlds for children rather than a space to ‘prepare’ children for kindergarten or keep them safe and occupied so that parents and caregivers can work. We are responsible for creating the conditions for students to become those educators. 

Barbara: Let’s discuss now the relationship between neoliberal logic in education and anti-intellectualism. I am referring to practices and structures that focus heavily on ingraining limited traditions (e.g., developmentalism) and policies and regulations established by external governing bodies; practices that limit the role of educators to the application of technical and scientific conceptions. As Vintimilla et al. (2023) suggest, such existing structures in early childhood education not only strengthen anti-intellectualism, but also create barriers for educators to envision and explore approaches that can influence the ways we think and do pedagogy. If we accept the view that the purpose of early childhood education programs is to produce skilled, technical workers, then it follows that the approaches used in preparatory education don’t promote intellectual work or creativity. Here I am referring to both what students deem as relevant for their education and also the specific theoretical underpinnings college professors choose for their courses, acknowledging that there are specific governmental and institutional parameters they must adhere to. Based on my experience working with about 80 college professors, I have seen the pressure they face to structure early childhood education curricula to promote technical and reproducible objectives rather than a curriculum that promotes students’ intellectual curiosity. This technocratic curriculum is something that Bezaire and Johnston (2023) problematize when they talk about pre-service educators needing to learn through experiencing “complex, multifaceted, even contradictory roles” (p. 436) if they are to be prepared to respond to contemporary complex social issues.

What do you think is needed to shift in the work of college professors so students can strengthen their dispositions in becoming creative and innovative thinkers? 

Kathleen: First, I would like to acknowledge that college and university professors work within complex governmental and administrative relations. As people who care deeply about children and families, they are aware of the unprecedented challenges to the field of early childhood education, such as the lack of childcare spaces and recruitment and retention issues. However, I strongly believe that as professors, these challenges should not take precedence over creating curriculum that pedagogically responds to the conditions of our times. I believe faculty need to attend to Cochran-Smith and Lytle’s (2006) argument that “the model of teacher development as training and retraining is retrograde and is inconsistent with contemporary understandings of teaching and learning” (p. 687–688). Acknowledging this requires us, as the educators of future educators, to engage deeply with literature, knowledges and practices that will support the reconceptualization of the education of future educators. 

For me, the issue of concern in the education of early childhood educators is how to live/teach/research in a world of competing and contradictory discourses. How can we invite students to expect teaching (and perhaps life) to be what Jackson (2001) describes as a “wrenching, uneven experience” (p. 388)? We, as teachers of early childhood educators, need to create learning spaces that explore what it means to teach, live, and practice in an unstable, unpredictable, always emerging world. 

For example, my colleagues Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw and Denise Hodgins have been involved in a project in British Columbia called the BC Early Childhood Pedagogy Network, where part of our work is with student educators. We have introduced the role of faculty pedagogists, who work directly with educators in practicum sites and with students. The faculty pedagogists support educators and students to engage with children and families in innovative, critically reflective practice and extend the practice of the educators and the children by introducing new ideas and materials (Government of British Columbia, 2019, p. 7). This work is supported by current research in the education of future educators that calls for intentional and guided opportunities for students to reflect on their observations of and practices with young children in early childhood education settings (e.g., Avgitidou et al., 2013; Bowne et al., 2010 Brown and Englehardt, 2016). In an article, Denise and I wrote, we talk more deeply about the process of creating the conditions for students to build relationships that create the conditions to think together about ideas and theory (Kummen & Hodgins, 2019). 

One of the things that has emerged from this work is the importance of practicum for student educators. Practicum is often considered secondary to the theory courses or other courses taught on campus and positioned as sort of a means to an end for students to meet requirements to successfully complete the program. Suppose we truly want to reconceptualize both early childhood education and the education of early childhood educators. In that case, we need to conceptualize practicum as one of the most significant courses in their education as future educators and one that is deeply connected to curriculum and pedagogy. Within the ECPN, we have expanded the Dedicated Practicum model developed at Capilano University in North Vancouver, British Columbia, in what we call our Post-Secondary Stream of Pedagogists. 

In this model, students experience practicum at the same practicum site for one academic year, which is quite different from other practicum structures, where students are encouraged to have multiple practicum sites so that they can see a little bit of everything. By working in the same early years program, not only do the students develop long-term relationships with children, but they also come to know and be part of the life of that centre. By working with the same mentor teachers and faculty, students have the time and opportunity to engage deeply in curriculum with children and educators. The Dedicated Practicum model allows students to think with educators and children to curate experiences, select materials and so forth so that there is deep engagement with ideas and concerns that matter in that centre. This model helps students see pedagogical work as more than providing activities that keep children busy and safe while their parents are at their place of employment. By becoming immersed in the life of a centre, students can engage with pedagogy as life-making (Vinimilla & Pacini- Ketchabaw, 2020). 

Barbara: Recruitment and retention of early childhood educators have created new challenges for the field and for colleges and universities. As McCuaig et al. (2022) pointed out in their report, 82% of child care operators in Canada have been experiencing difficulties with recruiting qualified educators. In Ontario, “licensed child care has the lowest retention rate of any employment setting” (College of Early Childhood Educators, 2021, n.p.). For that reason, there is a push to graduate more students to meet the demand for educators in the field, so much so that full-time domestic students receive bursaries of $2,000 per semester to complete the program (Seneca Polytechnic, 2023). 

The retention and recruitment issue has also contributed to increasing numbers of international students in early childhood education (Admission Hub, 2021). The research on international students learning in Canadian colleges is limited. However, what we have learned from the early childhood education community in Australia is that, in addition to adjusting to the cultural differences in pedagogy (Rouse & Joseph, 2019), students are being challenged with navigating a new lifestyle (cost of living, linguistic differences, etc.) (Dai, Matthews, & Reyes, 2020; Yu & Wright, 2016). International students in early childhood education talk about being stressed, overwhelmed, and struggling to connect theory and practice (Rouse & Joseph, 2019). This is important, as educators’ capacity and attitudes, engagement, and emotional warmth are linked to children’s positive outcomes in future academic performance, behaviour, and health (McCuaig et al., 2022).

How are we to create spaces that welcome the diversity of students in our programs, and create the conditions to support their well-being and nurture the dispositions that allow them to meet the complex and situated needs of the children and families in the 21st century?

Kathleen: I am working in the province of British Columbia; I can attest that my colleagues at Capilano University and other post-secondary institutions are seeing an increase in pressure to offer accelerated and other programs that work to quickly put adults in early years programs. Often this involves programs in which adults receive an assistant certificate or a short training so that they are considered responsible adults. Also, with the introduction of our degree 13 years ago, we saw a rise in the number of younger students entering our program directly from Grade 12.  However, education is a profession that obliges us to always be responding to the current conditions in which we find ourselves. This means that we need to attend pedagogically to the increase in the diversity of our students. 

First, we need to celebrate that we are having more diversity and difference in our field. This increases the possibilities for young children to work with adults who share their language, have similar culture experiences and so forth. The last thing education in the 21st century needs is to perpetuate the ghost of Lady Bountiful (Ford Smith, 1993, cited in Harper & Cavanaugh, 1994), who haunts the elementary classroom and is also present in early childhood education, and who works to keep children innocent and pure. Harper and Cavanaugh (1994) describe Lady Bountiful as a representation of the white lady missionary or white lady teacher who emerged during the time of British imperialism (p. 42).

It also means that we, as educators of educators, need to recognize how our students’ geo-political position in the world shapes the ways in which they understand childhood, education, families and so forth. In our own classrooms and with our colleagues we need to seek to bring to the forefront the complexity of teaching that results from taken-for-granted understandings that mask the political, historical, and changing meanings of discourses. How are we ensuring that all early childhood students understand the genealogy of child development and its relationships with racism and colonization? How do we ensure that the colonization and the ongoing legacy of colonization are discussed in our classrooms in ways that don’t have settlers recounting the narrative? We need to ensure that as educators, we are meeting our obligations to the students in front of us in ways that will support them to undertake the complex work of the early childhood educator. I think the words in the Early Childhood Educators of BC Position Paper on The Role of the Early Childhood Educator might be generative to our discussion:  

Current research asserts social policies and narratives maintain our profession as gendered, racialized, marginalized and positioned as a secondary market force. However, we know that early childhood educators are not limited by these narratives and images. Educators are leaders and hopeful for a better future, without knowing the shape of that future. Educators are emboldened to disrupt the legacies of the past in order to activate transformative change for the future. In relationship with children, families, communities, materials and places, educators engage in intentional pedagogical work in response to the complexity of our current conditions. Early childhood education is a space to co-create new worlds with alternative narratives.

Barbara: In addition to reconceptualizing practicum in the ways you outlined above, what specific actions can college professors take to counter current practices in programs that limit Ontario’s early childhood education field? 

Kathleen: I am unsure I can respond to your question with specific actions that faculty should take in their classrooms because I am hesitant to offer suggestions that might lend themselves to instrumental practices. Instead, I encourage faculty to come together to engage in radical dialogues to think deeply about how they understand early childhood education; to unpack the discourses they hold around education, educators, and children so that they can critically reflect on their pedagogical practices. I use the term radical dialogue to refer to a style of conversation that Moss and Dalberg (2005) describe as dialogue that fosters conditions for the participants to work with an idea or concept in ways that unpack, disrupt, analyze, and question taken-for-granted assumptions so as to collectively reimagine alternative understandings. Doing this work means moving beyond sharing ideas to negotiate a consensus. Rather, it requires a commitment to labour collaboratively, to use the words of Vintimilla, “in the name of something” that is beyond the opinions and desires of the individual. As educators of future educators, it is critical that we formulate, reformulate, and negotiate pedagogical commitment for the post-secondary classroom.

Many of my colleagues at Capilano University were fortunate to work with Cristina Delgado Vintimilla, who, as a pedagogista, curated dialogues that helped us to come together to collectively articulate our image of the student educator, the educator, education and the child. Collective thinking is far from easy work and is often filled with challenges and tension. However, it was necessary for us, as educators, to nurture, individually and collectively, the dispositions to engage in radical dialogues to think pedagogically. For example, words such as neoliberalism, globalization, colonization and racism enter our classrooms in the student’s first term. Thinking with the work of Vintimilla (2014), students are introduced to education as a political project. We ask the students to think deeply about the concept of pedagogy as a form of life-making, and we collectively commit to working with the concept of education as a political project, to think together about the language, theories, and knowledges that we work with within our classrooms. When students are introduced to education as a profession that is not innocent and neutral, they understand that they have an obligation to consider what materials and experiences they would offer to children—recognizing that what happens in the classroom makes possible particular ways of being and knowing and silences or marginalizes other ways of knowing and being. Thinking with Barad (2012), I believe that what is needed in the education of future early childhood educators is a curriculum that attends to “how values matter and gets materialized, and the interconnectedness of ethics, ontology, and epistemology” (as cited in Juelskær & Schwennesen, p.15). Therefore, we need to think beyond activities and skills so that the education of future educators is taken up as an ethical and political project.

For me personally, I am inspired in my own teaching by the words of Rinaldi (2006) who asserts that the child requires an educator who is a “‘powerful’ teacher, the only kind of teacher suitable for our equally “‘powerful’ child” (p. 125). This powerful educator, Rinaldi explains, is open to the unexpected, is one who engages in learning with the child as a researcher in order to be open to possibilities in education. Perhaps this statement by Rinaldi can be a place for faculty to start a process of collectively reimaging the education of future educators.  It is my hope that we as the educators of early childhood educator engage in what Lenz Taguchi (2010) refers to as ethics of immanence and potentialities to “transform educational practices so that they can be about challenging children’s, students’ and teachers’ potentialities and capacities to act and be inventive in the process of collaborative experimentation and production of concepts and knowing” (p. 177).

Barbara: Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the critical role professors play in the field of early childhood education. I hope this discussion will create a space for college professors and those involved in the construction and implementation of early childhood education programs to see why continuously reflecting on and revisiting their teaching methods, as well as making tangible changes that promote deep intellectual and pedagogical thought is important. I also hope that your provocations will serve as a catalyst to start disrupting old habits that normalize taken-for-granted practices in early childhood education to create space for new possibilities in the field. I would like to close with Nietzsche’s idea that a teacher’s role is to “learn to see, to think, and to speak and write” (as cited in Han, 2015, p. 21). 


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Thinking with Waste

Lindsay Sparkes (RECE) is Pedagogist with the Pedagogist Network of Ontario at London Bridge Childcare Services.

Across the world there are stories about waste problems, calling humans to take drastic action by recycling, reusing and reducing waste. However, many of these actions don’t solve the problems, they simply create new ones. In early childhood education, we have a tendency to find quick fix solutions to these challenges that make us feel like good citizens or stewards of the earth. These include recycling with children, banning of single use plastics, engaging in repurposing activities, and so on. 

As a pedagogist implicated in this work for the past 5 years, I have been wondering how I might challenge some of these managerial approaches to the current climate crisis: What if, instead of quickly finding solutions, we rethink our response(abilities) to the growing waste crisis? With educators and children, and researchers in the Climate Action Childhood Network, I am engaged with this question. Using common worlds pedagogies (e.g., Blyth & Meiring, 2018; Iorio, Coustley, & Grayland, 2017; Lakind & Adsit-Morris, 2018; Nxumalo, 2016; Pacini-Ketchabaw & Nxumalo, 2015; Taylor, 2013, 2014, 2017; Taylor & Giugni, 2012), we are shifting our responses to human-induced ecological instability. Rather than focusing our actions on the individual, we are attending to the collective and to interrelations between humans and nonhuman others. “Common worlding” is a process of attending to the actual messy, unequal, and imperfect worlds real children inherit and co-inhabit along with other human and non-human beings (Taylor, 2013;Taylor & Pacini-Ketchabaw, 2019). Thus, in a society that places waste out of sight and out of mind, our work calls us to bring waste in sight and in mind. 

Last year, in collaboration with educators, we centered our work around food waste specifically. Peels, seeds, cores from various types of produce were brought into the classroom.  Our pedagogical intention involved paying attention to food wastes’ many processes so that we might build a different kind of (non-consumptive) relations between children and food waste. 

Food waste and rituals around caring for food waste became central to our work, calling children and educators to engage deeply with what they might not pay attention otherwise.  What used to be tossed in the garbage was then something we had to care for and care with. We paid attention, not only to how children engaged with food waste but how food waste invited children to engage with it. We paid attention to how food waste disrupted and interrupted the daily movements of the classroom. For more information, please see Storying with plastic excess: Relations with plastic in early childhood education.

Pedagogical Possibilities

My role has been to think through pedagogical practices to create food waste pedagogies with educators and children. This work doesn’t happen by chance. It must be brought into existence and kept alive every day in the early childhood centre (Nxumalo, Vintimilla & Nelson, 2018) . It requires us to make careful, pedagogical decisions that bring children more intimately into the life of food waste produced in our kitchen. 

Our common worlding waste pedagogies involve creating curricular processes with children that think of waste materials as in constant transformation and as transforming, both independently and interdependently with humans. As we create curriculum with children, we work with the dynamic movements, disorderings and transformations of waste. This means that when children work with waste materials, they attend to their movements, impermanence, relationalities, connections with other materials and so on. We also pay attention to the temporalities of food waste and how food waste is in relation with other beings and creatures. 

Studying our documentation becomes an integral part of our work together. Using video and audio recordings, photos and written notes, we pay attention carefully to the moments that hold pedagogical significance. For us, these moments are ones that have the potential for bringing children closer in relation to food waste. Returning to our documentation helps us to decide how to move towards the creation of otherwise futures, and to challenge managerial relations to waste.

The Onion 

Several pieces of food scraps are lying across the table. Leo picks up the root of an onion and places his finger inside. He then begins looking for more, placing each one on a finger. He turns to Claire and begins to laugh. “Look Claire, I put the onions on my fingers.” Claire joins him and finds more onion roots. Removing the pieces from his fingers, Leo begins to place them inside one another. “Claire, we need to match them.” Onion upon onion is stacked inside. “I’m making an onion Claire.” 

We take up the idea of making an onion and ask ourselves, ‘what does it mean to make an onion?’ Offering Leo’s idea back to the children, we are not interested in simply the making of something but also in the pedagogical possibilities that exist when children think of waste as alive. Over several months the children and educators engage with the question of how to make an onion, staying with the problems that emerge. How many layers does an onion need? What are the different layers of the onion for? How do we keep the onion together? What happens when mold begins to form?  These questions revive the tensions of waste’s liveliness and particularities of the onion. Day after day, we experiment with the onion texture, size and thickness of each layer in an effort to make the biggest onion. When mold forms between the layers, one child suggests that we need to make an onion with less layers. Negotiations and collaborations take place. Perhaps mold only forms when there are many layers of onion. 

With different fabrics we experiment how children themselves might become onions. They wrap layers of onion fabric around their bodies, imagining what it feels like to be an onion.

“I don’t like eating onions, but I like being an onion”-Maria

“It feels tight to be an onion.”-Jason

“I need more layers. I need a purple layer and a yellow layer.”-Sarah

“Oh no, I’m getting moldy.”-Maria

“We need the crunchy onion skin”-Sarah

This is slow, careful work that calls us to listen and respond differently than teaching children about waste and instead, refigures children’s relationships with waste. By keeping food waste in sight and in mind, children are noticing changes – not because we are teaching them about these changes, but because we have created the conditions for them to live and notice them. Rather than seeing ourselves as separate from waste, this work brings us into relation with waste.

Living with Tensions

As food scraps live in our space, their transformations brings tensions and discomforts. Children talk about the smells and textures of the decomposing food scraps and we are confronted with various problems. We feel tension around the health and safety of working with molding food waste. Questions around contamination, exposure, and impact bubble up as we are unsure how to proceed. Do we protect children from it? Can we touch it? Is it bad for us? These become questions that also live in our encounters.

Mold and fruit flies become protagonists in our work as decomposing food provides life to others. We slow down and stay with these problems, as children share ideas of where the flies come from and how they got into our classroom. We use drawing to bring their stories to life and offer different materials that help us to think more closely with the world that is being created between the children and the other. Decomposing food invites children and educators to re-compose stories of waste. 

“The bees(fruit flies) are here! They followed the black bananas”-John

“How are they here?”-Darius

“They came in through the door straws-the space between the door”-John

“They follow the smell of the black banana”-Joe

“All the bees fly to the black banana. These are the mommy bees and these are the baby bees.”-Darius

“The leader bee leads them to our classroom.”-John

It is by keeping waste in sight and in mind that our ideas of caring FOR waste become a caring WITH waste. Shifting this narrative, children attend to the circularity and importance of food waste and rethink care as a deeply relational process. We wonder about how to move with these ideas. Do we set traps to remove the fruit flies? Is it important for the children to know they are not bees? By listening to the stories that are being created between bananas peels, the children and the bugs we begin to see familiar narratives with waste being replaced with new ones. Tensions are important components in pedagogical work. We keep waste in sight and in mind as we pay attention to its transformation processes and embrace the smells, textures and decomposition processes that give life to both other living creatures as well as our curriculum. 

Waste Management to Circularity of Waste

Although we engaged in unusual relations with food waste, we also worked through more familiar ways of rethinking waste management practices with young children. Composting and vermi-composting become important rituals in how we move through the day. Drawing on the work of Narda Nelson (with Yazbeck, Danis, Elliot, Wilson, Payjack, & Pickup, 2018), we thought about how we might reconceptualize pedagogies of care in order to care for food waste differently. As Nelson mentions, “putting them (pedagogies of care) into action, is messy, imperfect and sometimes difficult work” (p. 48). Rather than seeing ourselves as separate from, how does caring with food waste become part of our everyday relations in which, we as humans are very much entangled with the more than human world?

At the end of each week, the food scraps in the classroom are carefully gathered to bring to the outdoor compost bin – this becomes our response-ability. We take seriously this notion of caring with waste, not to create good stewards of the earth but to respond to waste’s presence. The children visit this compost bin regularly as they notice the changes and life that is taking place inside. The compost bin becomes another setting for world making. Bees, flies, spiders, mold, and other living things share this space. As the lid is lifted, bees frantically fly out and hover around the children and the compost bin. We wonder together where the bees come from and what they are doing inside.

“There’s too many bees.”-Cameron

“The bees live in the compost because it’s dirty.”-Emmanuel

“I think the peels are their home.” – Cindy

“The bees are checking on the food scraps”-Alex

We notice their quick movements around the compost bin. 

 “They do a zig zag everyday”-Alex

As a way to pay attention to bees and their relation to the compost bin, we engage in these ideas of zig zagging with children over several months, enacting zig zag stories as a way to bring visibility to the constant movement between the children, bees and food scraps and the relational process of collective life. The compost bin doesn’t become a way to manage waste but becomes an alternative way of being with waste.

Overall, this work calls us to think and live differently with ideas of waste and waste management with young children. It asks us to stay with the tensions of waste so that we may create a different narrative with children. Rather than seeing waste as a problem to solve, we create curricular processes with children so that children get closer to the constant transformation of waste materials. We think about processes that open up possibilities for other kinds of relations for children in which we don’t know what will emerge. It is by moving with our pedagogical intention that we are able to respond to moments of significance and create this common world together.  


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Dialogues on Complexifying Care in ECE

Danielle Wittick is a Pedagogist with the Pedagogist Network of Ontario at NYAD Community Inc.

Gabrielle Monique Warren is a Pedagogist with the Pedagogist Network of Ontario and a doctoral student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto.

Lisa Johnston is a Pedagogist with the Pedagogist Network of Ontario and a doctoral student at York University.

In her poem “My House,” Nikki Giovanni (1981) quips, “English isn’t a good language to express emotion through/Mostly I imagine/Because people try to speak English instead of trying to speak through it.” This conversation takes on the spirit of her words by taking up the concept of care in early childhood settings and challenging its underlying assumptions. In a time when we pedagogists are reckoning with a multiplicity of epistemologies and ontologies within educational spaces, how might we think about language in a way that both honours and brings us forward toward a more fulfilling future? How might futurity be derailed when there is an assumed unified definition of care? How do we materially see the variance of the care within ECE spaces? How might we interrogate the processes that create varying care definitions within those spaces? This piece emerged from conversations in our small group about the devaluation of care in early childhood education. What follows are excerpts from our discussions that wove together our varied contexts as we exchanged ideas and grappled with the concept of care.

In this conversation, we explore the concept of care within education and society as a pedagogical movement to interrogate how we take specific words and concepts for granted. We discuss the precarious nature of care under capitalism, the role of government in neglecting responsibilities, and the importance of redefining the title of early childhood educators. We also emphasize the interconnectedness of care and the need to move away from individualistic thinking. We introduce various authors and their perspectives on care, including Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Joan Tronto, Robyn Maynard, Leanne Simpson, bell hooks, and Maria Puig de la Bellacasa.

As pedagogists, we offer that it is vital to notice the interconnectedness of a child in space and place. The asymmetry in educational spaces and the exclusion of certain children based on their disabilities or immigrant status is also highlighted. We discuss how the harmful effects of universalism and the dominance of narratives rooted in white supremacist and capitalist logics must be resisted in favour of anti-capitalist and anti-colonial values of love, reciprocity, and mutual responsibility.

We end the conversation by discussing the intersection of pedagogy and care in education. We explore the need to move away from technical conceptions of care and instead engage with care that involves the heart, mind, and spirit. By questioning inherited narratives and embracing curiosity and openness in pedagogical gestures, we open a material space to reflect those we engage with.


Danielle: To start with, why is it that we need education to validate this word of care? Why do we not see care as something of value on its own?

Gabrielle: From my work in the nonprofit space, I have witnessed the precarious nature of care under capitalism. I believe this concerns the precarious nature of nonprofits under capitalism. Ruth Wilson Gilmore (2022) speaks of the “shadow state” concept. She posits that this space, defined by the voluntary and nonprofit sector, gathers the abandoned pieces of society where the market fails to utilize extra-economic values like kindness, generosity, or for the sake of this conversation: care (Gilmore, 2022). Being cast to stand in the gap for what the state will not provide in terms of care, you are placed in the middle because you are not allowed to be a political actor or speak out against the state. However, the state does not necessarily need to give you resources to provide the gaps or help you provide the gaps you are filling within society. When you develop a community program, a volunteer program, an after-school program from the nonprofit, or the shadow state perspective, care can be complicated because the execution is very conditional on the state’s political will to fund various projects. In a post-pandemic era, Canadians are in need of more programming and food banks have skyrocketed in use; however, giving and volunteering is down (CBC, 2023; CTV, 2023). When I think of care, this is my standpoint. Care is not merely a personal action. It is a way of thinking about how various parts of our society work together to provide for the most vulnerable. 

Lisa: This makes me think of Joan Tronto’s (2013) work with feminist ethics of care. In Caring Democracy, she offers the idea of privileged irresponsibility which she defines as governments taking a pass out of their responsibilities to care for their citizens. In a sense, the creation of the College of ECE is an example of this. In the absence of government policy that assures good wages and working conditions for Registered ECEs that would support them in doing their work well, the College of ECE instead steps in to regulate professionals through increased accountability measures and stricter enforcement and punishment.

Danielle: Yes. I really like Fisher and Tronto’s (1990) definition of care as “… a species activity that includes everything we do to maintain, continue and repair our world so that we may live in it as well as possible. That world includes our bodies, ourselves, and our environment, all of which we seek to interweave in a complex life-sustaining web” (p. 40). I’ve been talking with educators recently about this idea of “care.” One of the questions I’ve asked them is, “if we were to redefine our title would it be early childhood educator or early childhood care professional? Nobody focused on the word care as being of importance. It was the word ‘education’ and the term ‘professional’ that mattered, because it gives us viability. Maybe parents would respect what we’re doing if our title had these words attached to “early childhood”. A question raised in these conversations was, what does the College (of ECEs in Ontario) do for us in supporting care? I referred to Lisa Johnson’s (2022) paper, Node-ified ethics: Contesting codified Ethics as unethical in ECEC in Ontario, which asked the same question. When our governments do not put value in care, why would educators see their role of care as a value? The simple act of wiping a nose and giving a hug is important. From my perspective, care involves meeting needs, and is always relational. While wiping that nose, we create a condition for the child to feel safe in the world (Tronto, 2015). Gabrielle, as you talked, I kept reflecting on what one of the educators said. They asked, how can we care when the ratios of educators to children are 1:13? When our afternoons are spent taking children to the bathroom? How can we care when the finances aren’t there? How can we care when our College doesn’t support us? 

Gabrielle: I believe this conversation reflects what is happening in society regarding desiring to professionalize our relations and isolate us from one another. When we returned to the “Black Spring” of 2020, there were calls for mutual aid and community accountability (Kelley, 2022). Furthermore, this idea of care is not just about the educator; it is not just about the child. It is about the parents. It is about the aunties. It is about the uncles. It is about the shopkeeper. It is about the puppies in the street. As we have seen in COVID, there has been such a disintegration of community and public space and people coming together. Sometimes I get frustrated within ECE spaces that there is such a myopic conversation on just the relation between the educator and the child, that we do not look at the fact that we are part of a constellation. This is a concept which Robyn Maynard and Leanne Simpson (2022) eloquently write of in their book Rehearsals for Living. From an Indigenous and Black Radical perspective, they relay this idea of constellations and how we are part of something so much bigger that is interconnected and interrelated. Moreover, I think moving away from myopic positioning or capitalistic individualistic urges and thinking about the connection of all things – human and non-human, seen and unseen – allows us to think about care in a more expansive way. This expanse reminds me of the black praxis of Bell Hooks. Her meditation on love is all-encompassing. Love is an action, and care is part of love (Hooks, 2001). In Teaching to Transgress, Hooks (1994) speaks on education as an act of love itself. Personally, I think about my work as an act of love.

Lisa: I was also reading Maria Puig de la Bellacasa (2012), who talks about how we do not pre-exist relationality so, care cannot just start; it’s already happening. We’re already in relations of care and understand our needs by being in relation. There’s a lot in there, so I am still working through the ideas, but I found it quite an exciting and provocative way to think about care, including the engagement with posthumanism. 

Care and Citizenship

Danielle: In thinking about the “whole” individual, Malaguzzi discusses the same points in the paper, Your Image of the Child: Where Teaching Begins. Malaguzzi states that when we think about a child, when we pull out a child to look at, that child is already tightly connected and

linked to a certain reality of the world — she has relationships and experiences. We cannot separate this child from a particular reality. Put differently, when we think of care, it is ourselves knowing what we want. At the same time, you have to know what you want to be able to express what your need is. I like what Tronto says: we need to view not everyone as an adult or a child, but we’re all citizens. And if we’re all citizens, does that help or aid in how we view our relations because it puts us all on the same spectrum? Whereas care right now, we think of it as a hierarchy: I need to care for you, so you’re lucky. I want to look at care as reciprocal, as an ongoing continuous democratic practice.

Gabrielle: I want to complicate the concept of the citizen concerning care. In educational spaces, there is an asymmetry on multiple scales, even in these spaces where we are wiping a runny nose or picking up toys and facilitating children’s experiences. From the scale of the body to the city a child resides in, to the state or province they reside in, inheritances are latched onto how we view who gets to be a citizen and how that citizen is meant to be. Geographer Neil Smith (1992) defines a politics of scale. He argues that social processes create certain places and certain places create social processes. In the case of care, I think about how scale helps us better understand how the exclusion of a disabled child or a neurodivergent child or an immigrant child in how we conceive citizenship and care, which therefore creates specific educational spaces that are exclusionary. In other words, universalism is harmful because it subsumes the various genres of the human. These children are peripheral at best and a nuisance at worst. It is usually a one-on-one specific kind of child that is being centered. To unthinkingly believe that I am part of a democratic society obscures an understanding of master narratives steeped in white supremacist, capitalist logics that are void of love, reciprocity, and mutual responsibility. These dominant narratives say that I clock in and clock out of caring responsibilities through employment. Not all narratives and discourses floating around about what care is, how it is, or how it is coded are necessarily created nefariously. They are just naturalized. 

Care and Inheritance

Danielle: How do we do pedagogical work as always in question? One sentence that I wrote down from Langford and Richardson (2020) is in relation to how care has been instrumentalized. It’s not the kind of care that requires engagement with your heart, mind and your spirit. It’s more robotic right now.  This perspective made me think of the technical aspects of an everyday life, but instead ask how we separate ourselves from technical conceptions of care to really look and feel with our heart, our mind and our spirit? Educators are asked to work from 7:00 in the morning to 6:00 in the evening with a three hour split in between. They are required to do all these ongoing tasks throughout their day, and go home and care for their own family. How are we doing this “ethics of care” when we walk into a room or into any situation? 

Gabrielle: I think part of considering care requires bringing up conversations about pedagogy and inheritance. I’m interested in inheritances and I’m interested in narratives; I’m interested in asking “what are the narratives we’re telling about education?” What are status-quo narratives telling us about who the child is meant to be within the Canadian context? Who is a citizen? And then who is left out of that? And in our contexts, how are we abiding by these discourses?  In my non-profit work, we had a specific program that we were developing and although we had our own vision for how we thought it should go, we realized that this was not enough. By making mistakes and asking questions, we began to develop programming that was more culturally responsive to the community we were working with. By suspending master narratives, we were open to curiosity. I argue that this curiosity and openness is a critical component of care. Pedagogically, in my mind, it’s thinking about “how do we just attend to this moment?” There is an overarching desire for uniformity in education and a fear of impermanence. Yet, in education, things are always changing, whether it’s the places we educate, the students we are educating, or revelations about past atrocities or the curriculums that are handed down from on high. Inheritances do not have to be stumbling blocks but might be a way to move honestly and humbly through the worlds we exist within. 

Lisa: I think that’s the thing about pedagogy: that it resists universalization. Returning to Cristina Delgado Vintimilla’s (2020) definition of pedagogy, as “that which thinks education”, pedagogy entails an active, ongoing process of thinking about education as a project and not as something just to be implemented. This requires a lot of time and effort, which is not productive in a capitalist context of checking boxes and of production and consumption. I think that’s what I, as a pedagogist ask: how do we push against the surveillance of universal, inherited conceptions of care? Perhaps it’s at the heart of what we’re talking about as a collective of pedagogists.

Danielle:  I know we started this discussion to think education alongside care. But I wonder, thinking pedagogically, how do we understand and view care?  I know this isn’t the same level of inheritance that you’re speaking of Gabrielle, but as pedagogists with the Pedagogist Network of Ontario, one of the first readings we engaged together was Acting with the Clock: clocking practices in early childhood, (Pacini-Ketchabaw, 2012). Together with this reading, we questioned how we often inherit past practices as a new early childhood educator. There becomes a question of how we as pedagogists, enter into spaces with educators who have inherited particular histories of care. Dominant approaches ask mostly women, women of different ethnicities, how they view care; if their vision is different from status-quo governmental mandates, we want them to conform to “our” (governments and agents of the government) care. As pedagogists, we might instead ask how we might keep diverse educators from conforming to inherited conceptions of care, knowing that reproducing master narratives of care has long been the practice advanced in educational institutions.

Gabrielle: I believe a large component is being intentional with a diversity of standpoints. Bell Hooks speaks on an anecdote of a colleague who advocated for her hiring at a university. She recalls that the colleague witnessed the hiring committee beginning to make worrying comments about hooks – comments that would not have been said if another standpoint was in the room. She stopped the meeting and suggested they incorporate others into the conversation (hooks, 1994). The power in that anecdote was the understanding of one’s limitations. We cannot be all things to all people, but we must have the wherewithal to go beyond ourselves. This is not an argument for multiculturalism, but something beyond – something Wynterian (see: Wynter, 1994). Care, in both thought and action, becomes richer when more standpoints from community, parents, children, community organizations, educators, and the elderly are present. I think this idea relates back to relationality as a pedagogical imperative. We do not have to fully understand one another to be in relation with one another (see: Glissant, 1997). Is this relationality something that is providing a more expansive vision of what we want to do as pedagogists? I think that one commitment that matters to me as a pedagogist requires giving us the power to flip the script a little bit. 


In this conversation, we foregrounded that in our current time, it is vital to resist a universalized pedagogical practice where there are unchecked inherited conceptions of care. In the movement of our conversation and contemplation, we are grateful for the time and space to engage collectively with this question of care, each of us bringing a distinct perspective. As the conversation moved, an invitation from Cristina Delgado Vintimilla remained in our minds’ foreground. In this invitation, during one of our large group gatherings, she asked us to think about feelings of stuckness that can take hold in our pedagogical work and to consider what practices we, as pedagogists, might create to bring momentum. This makes us wonder how care can become stuck in institutionalized, routinized, and instrumentalized practices. How might we disrupt this stuckness and engage with the momentum of care already happening in ethical relations? Through our conversation, we practiced creating a momentum space by accentuating the significance of the distinction of standpoints and generative relationality in reflecting on care and pedagogy.


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Thinking with Study in Early Childhood

Dr. Walter Kohan is a Professor at Rio de Janeiro State University.

In this conversation, Dr. Walter Kohan speaks with Dr. Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw and Dr. Fikile Nxumalo on the potentialities as well as the challenges of closely attuning to study as a practice and a concept within and beyond its institutional formations. 

Editors’ Note

“No time passed is good enough for my living,” Dionne Brand – a Black poet and essayist who lives in Toronto – contends, in response to Indigenous poet Billy-Ray Belcourt’s question “what if any, is the relationship between nostalgia and poetry?”. Unfolding on an episode of the Between the Covers podcast hosted by David Naimon, Brand continues: “I can only think of the future, the place where we might live, which would refute all that we are living; negate and tear up all that we are living. I am always living in the future…my work is to live in the future”. When we listen to Brand’s words as a pedagogist might, we are struck by the emphasis on ideation as a world-making tactic: to envision a future that refutes the neoliberal, settler colonial pillars of existing early childhood education because the future must be imperceptible; it is a requirement that the future be illegible to the white supremacist, humanist, developmental grammars of the present. A pedagogist, learning with Brand, is uninterested in creating a “better” future where better is simply a synonym for status-quo with a slight social justice flavour. A pedagogist is, instead, interested in discerning how and why different questions and concerns matter differently to specific educational experiences and responsive curriculum-making such that we might generate situated, responsive pedagogies grounded in the ongoing rhythms, politics, ethics, and flows of an early childhood or post-secondary education space.

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Returning to Re:

“The pandemic has left a mark on all of us in disproportionate ways. The prospect of re:opening from the pandemic, with all of its assumptions, complexities, and uncertainties, has caused us to pause and consider what re:opening actually means. We offer the prefix re meaning both “again” and “back” (Oxford University Press, 2021), as a way to consider our relations with/in histories and futures. The : after re intensifies this relationality by “amplifying what has come before it” (histories) and “directing us to the information following it” (futures) (Grammarly, 2021). The preposition re:, meaning “in the matter of,” “concerning” (Oxford University Press, 2021), draws us to the urgency of what matters and what concerns us in the now. Thus, we conceptualize re: as a liminal space/time between pasts and futures, a bumpy space where disaggregated research practices, theoretical frameworks and methodologies meet, resist and transform. Taking the preposition re: as a proposition, we engage Donna Haraway’s provocation to stay with the trouble of what concerns us and of what matters in conversation with Sara Ahmed’s incitement to build and ruin from/with/in this liminal space/time of re:.”

– From the 2022 York Graduate Students in Education Conference call for proposals

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In Conversation with Dr. Adam Davies

In the early autumn, Cristina and Nicole engaged with Dr. Adam Davies to think together about the work of crafting life and joy-sustaining pedagogies in the context of the province of Ontario – a context ripe with child development, heteronormativity, and everyday invocations of human difference as deficit. Dr. Adam Davies (they, them, theirs) is an Assistant Professor of Family Relations and Human Development at the University of Guelph. They are the Co-Chair of the Anti-Oppression Rainbow Research Lab and are active on Twitter where they boldly advocate for the rights of students and professors amid the neoliberal institution. As Cristina and Nicole prepared to offer Adam an opening provocation for our dialogue, we turned to Adam’s recent publications which invoke a palpable sense of living and embodying pedagogy as it functions as a world-making process, and never resting with pedagogy as a technocratic practice. From here, our conversation moved toward thinking who we see as our co-conspirators in this work of thinking pedagogically and in proposing possible educational worlds that are infused in ethical desire, where Adam emphasized the labour of critique in dismantling child development and the normativity it produces and reproduces, and brought to our attention a certain ethos of critique as life-giving, joining a history of thinking critique as more than neoliberalism’s ‘critical thinking’. Bringing our conversation to a (we hope temporary) close, we ask Adam about their work of critique and this insistence on refusal, where insistence is a doubled move that also insists on life. Together, many threads of the work of a pedagogist weave through our conversation, from thinking embodiment, commons, critique, collectivity, and futurity, to mounting tangible gestures against technocracy, essentialism, child development, and the colonial heteropatriarchy. We are so grateful to Adam for their time, and we offer this conversation as the inauguration of a new ally relationship and thinking companion for our work in the Pedagogist Network of Ontario. Thank you, Adam.

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Returning as/with Post-Secondary Pedagogists

What modes of returning matter to post-secondary institution (PSI) pedagogists as they return not just to the college or university institution, but also to the ethics and politics that cohere early childhood education together as an institution? In autumn 2022, post-secondary institution pedagogists are taking on a unique project: they are returning to their role as educators of pre-service teachers and they are returning to their role as a pedagogist intent on agitating the developmental and instrumental logics that underpin much of what counts as pre-service teacher education. To linger with the tensions that come from such a return, Cristina and Nicole participated in a conversation with three post-secondary institution pedagogists: Paolina Camuti, Marah Gardner Echavez, and Cory Jobb. Paolina and Marah work as pedagogists in Ontario and Cory is in British Columbia. We began our conversation with a simple question: do we want to return – and how? We then turned to questions of methodology, where, if we have a desire to return, how do we then do the work of returning well? Finally, we point toward some of the tensions that have emerged through each pedagogists’ responses, wondering how returning might also be about uncertainty and disjuncture, and not the confident and slick return to learning advanced by contemporary neoliberal discourses.

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On Inaugurating and Sustaining the Work of a Post Secondary Institution Pedagogist: Collectivity, In-Betweens, and Having a ‘Why’ – an interview with Bo Sun Kim

In Issue 2 of the PNO Magazine, we – Cristina Delgado Vintimilla and Nicole Land – interviewed two Ontario post secondary pedagogists, Paolina Camuti-Cull and Olga Rossovska. As we spoke about during our conversation, a pedagogist situated in a post-secondary institution works to reimagine practicum as a space for reconfiguring how the education of future educators unfolds. Post-secondary institution (PSI) pedagogists are in ongoing discussions with early childhood educators, students, and faculty members. In their conversations, PSI pedagogists are concerned with how, together, this gathering of people, histories, and intentions might create innovative practices relevant to both children and students’ relations and responses in a situated education space. The role of the PSI pedagogist is a complex and often difficult one as it requires the ability to think pedagogically within an in-between space: in-between the context and situations of those who are being educated to become early childhood educators (future) and the context of those who are already established early childhood educators who, alongside children and families, inhabit the everyday practices, modes of thinking, and rhythms of early childhood spaces (inheritance and present). In this in-between, a PSI pedagogist works to creates an ongoing and emergent dialogue between inheritances, presents, and futurities, and – through that dialogue – PSI pedagogists are called to activate collaborative processes that can create situations and experiences that engage students and educators with the proposition (and inherited reality) that early childhood education is a pedagogical and creative space, rather than simply a service or space for compliance. This in-between asks post-secondary pedagogists to constantly navigate how early childhood education becomes a pedagogical space, where students’ lives and responses are inseparable from children’s lives and responses. This nourishes a special kind of collectivity and a commitment to understanding and enlivening pedagogy as a layered, complex, and extremely consequential shared undertaking. 

In this interview, Cristina Delgado Vintimilla and Nicole Land speak with post-secondary institution pedagogist, Dr. Bo Sun Kim. Bo Sun is the first post secondary pedagogist in Canada, as she started her role seven years ago. In this conversation we engage with Bo Sun’s thoughts around the question of beginning this kind of work, and what pedagogical and curricular considerations and situations she had to work with as she began her practice. 

CRISTINA AND NICOLE: Bo Sun, can you please share with us your views on how the role of the post-secondary institution pedagogist is concerned with creating otherwise possibilities for practicum? We are thinking in particular about how you began this work many years ago and how you continually negotiate many beginnings as your work shifts and changes, where you are both figuring out the contours of your work and getting to know the relations and practices that currently surround how practicum happens in a particular space. What did you attend to when you started this work? Why? What inheritances were you working with or interrupting? Why?

BO SUN: I began my work as a post-secondary pedagogist in 2015 at a university institution located on the unceded territories of the LíỈwat, xʷməθkʷəỷəm (Musqueam), shíshálh (Sechelt), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and SəỈílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) nations of what is currently known as British Columbia, Canada. This university has a closely connected child care centre where many education students participated in practicums under the mentorship of experienced early childhood educators.

At the beginning of my pedagogist work, I turned to the question, ‘what constitutes normal?’ and, ‘what legitimates a truth in our practice?’ With these questions, I began to discern how the educators that I was working with perceived pedagogical practice as it should be, rather than taking time to ponder why. Amid these understandings of ‘good’ practice, I noticed that how a teacher, children, lunchtime, curriculum, and pedagogical narrations should be are all examples of so-called, status-quo rigorous practice. These instances create a particular way of living and relating to each other.  

When I joined this space, there were already ongoing curriculum projects where each teacher was working on their specific curriculum project. At the time, a curriculum project meant working on the curriculum topics in which children should be interested. The central role of the educators was to follow the children’s interests and make visible children’s understandings on curriculum topics. Pedagogical documentation merely represented children’s ideas and how much they knew about the topics. There was an assumption that everything had to come from children, and ideas that come from the children were good and important. In this romanticized way of seeing children, the curriculum was understood simply following children’s lead and their interests. Making comments on each other’s work and ideas among the children was not encouraged unless complimented. The collaboration among educators was not asked for or sought. I wondered what may have inspired everyone to work in such an individual and isolated approach. The educators’ withdrawal was rationalized in the name of independence, autonomy, freedom, and respect for one another’s work. Nonetheless, this was problematic to me as it prompted an unhealthy separation and isolation among educators and increased pressures for individual achievement.

I soon recognized how much this understanding of both ‘rigorous pedagogy’ and individualized ‘curriculum inquiry’ had influenced the way educators perceive the practicum students and their relationship to the student teachers. Student teachers were required to do their own inquiry project independently of the project already taking place in order to demonstrate their competency of being independent and autonomous.

Therefore, mentoring practicum students was frequently perceived as an additional and burdensome task to carry on top of educators’ regular obligations and responsibilities.This emphasis on thinking pedagogically as a singular, dispersed, egocentric project created disconnections among the educators and the student teachers, and discontinuity in how curriculum inquiry unfolded in the space.

I invited the educators to reflect on their pedagogical approach to curriculum because pedagogy activates curriculum, and their relationship with practicum students, and then ponder on the aspirations of this sort of practice. I emphasized that the intentions of our educational practice revolve around how everyday decisions and orientations intimately correlate with the particular dominant discourses around the teacher’s image, and culture, of early childhood education that we inherited at this institution. 

My intention, in pulling our attention toward ongoing insular practices and status-quo dominant discourses was to disrupt the image of a teacher as an expert who ought to demonstrate that they can work independently to be qualified as an exemplary educator. Instead, I wanted to offer the idea that we might challenge outdated normative assumptions and implications about curriculum approach (child-centred and individualistic) and practicum – and the relations between curriculum and practicum.

I asked: “What does it mean to work with curriculum inquiry?”, “What does it mean to collaborate with others?”, ” How can we work differently with practicum students?”, and “How can we cultivate continuity in curriculum rather than breaking up an inquiry topic into developmentally appropriate bits to leave the topic intact?”

CRISTINA AND NICOLE: Bo Sun, it seems that you were working hard in attending to two situations. On one hand, you were trying to disrupt notions of individualism and autonomy as ‘best practice’ and on the other hand you were provoking an understanding of a kind of epistemological hierarchy between educators and practicum students. It seems to us that both situations were intimately related to the questions of recognition and legitimation you spoke about at the outset of our conversation. We wonder, how, as a post-secondary institution pedagogist, did you understand and initiate initial, intentional steps to rethinking how collectivity matters and happens with educators and students? What has to be put at risk, and why, so that we might be able to think in the company of others within a practicum context? As we read your response to the first question, it seems that you were inviting educators to think outside logics of recognition and compliance and to consider pedagogical work as collective acts of re-invention. Along these lines, we wonder: When we hold collectivity as a pedagogical intention, what must we re-invent and refuse in the academy (both in terms of placement classes and non-placement classes, and within a child care centre closely connected to a university)? 

BO SUN: To my educators, I proposed the significance of rethinking how we engage the work of curriculum inquiry by asking “how do we understand curriculum inquiry?” To think carefully about how we do curriculum inquiry requires different pedagogical approaches from curriculum-as-plan conceptions, and refusing these mechanistic, routine, lifeless understandings opened up an initial conversation regarding how educators and the centre (and institution) understands curriculum inquiry and educators’ pedagogical relationships, including those with practicum students.

Through the conversations I had with educators and a program director, many things became of urgency to us. One was our recognition of the long history early childhood education has of representational logic, the tradition of representation and reproduction, and the practice of transmission in curriculum (Olsson, 2009); the second is how this representational logic is deeply embodied in our practice. To abide by representational logic is to uphold the separation between the subject as the knower and the world as the known. The world becomes the object of perception and discovery as if knowledge of the world pre-exists apart from us. Approaching curriculum based on the search for pre-existing and self-evident information implies that the role of the teacher is to transmit this knowledge and to dictate who and how children and educators can be amid a world that values the certainty, predictability, and universalizations of representational logic. Educators are to stress scientific ‘knowledge’ to children – this  the reproductive function of status-quo education in Canada. 

As Liselott Olsson (2009) argues, the logic of representation has remained very prominent in Euro-Western early childhood curriculum. It depicts a way of thinking that perceives the world as an independent cosmos. The (stable, instrumental) curriculum encompasses all ‘worthwhile’ knowledge reflecting the world. From this perspective, curriculum topics become substances for children’s learning which children come to understand when seeking to grasp the actual world. 

Akin to many other poststructuralist scholars, my pedagogical ethos (the pedagogical approach that I commit to) concerning this idea of representationalism is firmly against it. To concede having a valid and objective representation of reality can be the primary cause of many restrictions. The educators and I discussed how this logic (intentionally) limits a myriad of ways of knowing the worlds and our existential possibilities. 

The idea of a child in terms of development theories formulated within the discipline of developmental psychology sets forth universal age-related stages that continue normal child development and suggest that every child learns in a predictable, linear progression regardless of context. It represents a certain kind of subject who has the inherent potential to pursue one’s separate development, and education is reduced to the pursuit of individual development. The curriculum is carried out in such a fragmented way based on the areas of development, so learning becomes a separate and isolated activity. To break away from this logic of representation which names a separation between the world and ourselves, educators and I pondered how we could displace the solitude and docility that currently governed curriculum inquiry in the space by centering solidarity and multiplicity at the heart of our work. I proposed that educators might acknowledge curriculum as not something previously determined but, instead, as an invention. Curriculum as being composed with the material and social worlds of which we are already a part—seeing the life of the curriculum topic continually in flux.

resting thought by Sarah Hennessy Ⓒ 2021

To speculate how collectivity matters and happens in our curriculum, I brought my educators to think with David Jardine. Jardine underlines the vitality of curriculum as choosing a rich and generous topic to encompass all those who venture in, despite differences. His scholarly work on curriculum values what every participant brings into this venture of doing situated curriculum. With Jardine, curriculum’s potentialities of becoming value the multiple, various questions and experiences that individual participants express as enrichment and articulations to this work of curriculum. Educators, student teachers, a pedagogist, and families are also part of this venture as each person’s work is taken up as appending to the richness of the topic. In this regard, Jardine considers a curriculum inquiry topic as a place where we all find ourselves living in.

Jardine’s (2006) profound insights into the curriculum aroused further dialogue on abundant curriculum possibilities. He reminded us that approaching curriculum in abundance is a “way we carry ourselves in the world, the way we come through experience to live in a world full of life, full of relations and obligations and address,” (p.100) evoking us to seek and cultivate the kinships that connect us. Rethinking our pedagogical relationship through kinships opened up a different way of living and engaging with each other. I began to notice educators’ growing desire and curiosity about the pedagogical opportunities possible when working and thinking together as a team, as they realized that each person could bring a different way of seeing the world. The challenge was learning how to work together with differences without seeking an ultimate consensus; we resisted ultimate consensus because we have learned that complete harmony often conceals and silences tensions, disagreements, and divergences that nourish what it is to think pedagogically together (Delgado Vintimilla, 2014). 

Although most educators seemed to be motivated and excited about working collectively on curriculum inquiry, in the beginning, some educators shared difficulties expressing or offering different ideas or perspectives, feeling troubled that it might offend or upset colleagues, students, management, children, or families. It seemed that there was already a pre-established ideal relationship they wanted to pursue. I often heard from the educators stating, “we need to build our relationship first and then we can do this together”, “it is hard to work with her because I don’t have a relationship with her yet.” Or, “we cannot start creating a curriculum before we build a relationship with children,” as if everything could be or should be done only once the relationship is built. 

Rather than assuming that creating a relationship is not a prerequisite for what must happen before, I wanted educators to see relations as generative encounters with others or shared events with reciprocally transformative influence. It is through these connections with others that we become and continue to become who we are. To think differently about our relations with others we turned to Donna Haraway who writes of refiguring relationships through the idea of relationality; relations as a process of “becoming with.”

Some educators and students also shared that they struggled to think through engaging with each other’s thoughts, as they did not have much experience working collectively and responsively in a dialogue where they encountered their differences, which sometimes creates tensions, discomforts and disagreements. Here, we heard reverberations of the individualist, monotonous, application-oriented approaches that representational logic declares in education. We also noticed the influence of “rigorous” teaching meaning the implementation of pre-set curriculum and consensus meaning the at-all-costs absence of difference. Taking inspiration from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (poststructual philosophers), and Taylor and Miriam Giugni (common worlds scholars), I addressed collectivity as an opportunity to assemble or bring together, highlighting the reconstructive desire of our thinking and gesturing toward the productive potential of what we collectively composed in our messy work of thinking curriculum and pedagogy. Being responsive to each other’s ideas and thoughts was the process of taking risks. It took courage because, occasionally, it put educators in vulnerable situations. After all, being together/bringing together requires responsibility and responsiveness. This means that we might disagree with each other from time to time and need to work with disagreements and conflicts. However, slowly, educators started appreciating each other’s company and the opportunities of thinking and working – and sometimes agonizing – together as they began to experience that relationships are constituted and reconstituted in an exchange of ideas, perspectives, and stories. Haraway mentions how negotiating differences is difficult and risky emotional work, and we wanted to hold her assertion that thinking collectively is also a place of productive tension based on differences, where working in the muck of these differences might generate innovative thoughts and potentialities. 

Working collectively with each other and having a space for pedagogical conversation and engagement also changed the way educators related to practicum students. Practicum students often joined in curriculum meetings with educators and were invited to participate in each space’s curriculum inquiry. The educators seemed delighted by their contribution to the inquiry project. The educators often shared how much they appreciated different ideas and perspectives the practicum students brought to the curriculum inquiry and how children and educators missed them when they finished their practicum. Practicum students are no longer seen as people who just come and go just for the practicum to be done. Instead, they become co-participants who live and work together  with us on living, ongoing, unfinished conversations to which we are venturing together for better and richer understanding of the topic. Educators and the practicum students often asked if the student could go back to the same centre for the next practicum, which results in creating a back-to-back practicum to embrace continuity in curriculum and relationalities among the practicum students, educators, and the children.  

CRISTINA AND NICOLE: Thank you Bo Sun. There is so much that you are offering here and that we would like to relate to and think further. As a pedagogist you are inviting educators to unsettle taken-for-granted ideas regarding the ways we come to know and the ways we relate to each other. Through this unsettling, you have invited educators to consider and engage with ways of knowing and relating that might be less based in egocentric practices, sovereignty, and control (we think these are themes intimately related with what you shared in the above questions). We noticed that you are carefully working with thinking  and activating pedagogical processes that take up relationality from a variety of perspectives. In doing so, as you have shared with us, you have been thinking with multiple companions in curriculum theory and beyond. We appreciate such diversity and at the same time we find ourselves wondering about it. We wonder because we find ourselves having an ambivalent response: on one hand, we appreciate such rich conversation, on the other hand we wonder if one needs to be careful with how we relate to our conversations with educational and interdisciplinary interlocutors. How do we enter in interdisciplinary dialogue so that such concepts can actually be read pedagogically? Or, so that those concepts can activate questions and processes and not risk falling into a kind of rhetoric or empty intellectualization? With this in mind, we are wondering what it is about these scholars’ thinking that draws you to them in this work of building collectives with students and educators? As a post-secondary institution pedagogist, how do you relate to these bodies of work when creating an interdisciplinary conversation that is first and foremost a pedagogical conversation that will involve educators and students? 

BO SUN: As a post-secondary institution pedagogist, I believe that education needs to engage with real-life, moving beyond acquiring skills and developing competencies. In that sense, education needs to be concerned with the pedagogical transformation of the self (Todd, 2015). With this in mind, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work are inevitable if we seek to work with real-life matters and concerns, as our languages of education activate what we value and enact in education. To think with interdisciplinarity calls for us to critically reflect on the languages that are present and privileged in both the overarching and situated early childhood context, and think about whom we want to bring into the conversations to produce other possibilities in the early childhood curriculum.

For example, while inheriting dominant configurations of curriculum as children’s  acquisition of more and more skills and knowledge from a developmental psychology perspective, to think curriculum as responding to and being responsible for the worlds is about manifesting who you are as an educator and where you stand to enter a social-material fabric that is entirely relational (Biesta, 2006). Thus, early childhood curriculum must be understood as bearing and creating educational and pedagogical values and engage with philosophical questions such as what we want for our children, ourselves, and the worlds of which we are part. I often ask my educators and students to engage in a question, “what is the purpose of education?”, “what is the purpose of early childhood education?” Taking an invitation from Biesta (2006), without engaging with values and the task of education corresponding to our current time and place, it is impossible to come up with pedagogical visions and values that would orient ourselves for the educational task that we collectively want to pursue. A pedagogist needs to draw attention to how our relations and dialogues might perceive and respond to ongoing ethics and politics of education. In line with this, I refuse to draw on conventional ethical norms and instrumental relations with a predetermined notion of correct or appropriate relationships. Instead, I pay attention to creating conditions and situations where educators explore the curriculum with children to respond to the world in singular, situated ways. This means that educators need to work with various theories and philosophies that might make not taken-for-granted conversations and curriculum approaches possible. This means that we need to acknowledge the ethical consequences of presencing different theories because reality is invoked and materialized depending on what ontological and epistemological position we take (Jones & Jenkins, 2008). As pedagogists, we need to take seriously how different ways of understanding pedagogical practices offer further planning and other unfoldings with very different ethical implications.

For this reason, as you mentioned in your question, we need to be careful about how we enter an interdisciplinary dialogue, considering the purposes and intentions of those involved in contributing to any interdisciplinary piece. And the pedagogical process is “intimately related to pedagogist’s subjective dispositions towards the worlds” (Delgado Vintimilla,n.d). For me, the conversation starts with asking why a particular theoretical concept matters in this context and what it means to work with the specific theory in this particular situation. We also see ourselves, a pedagogist and educators, as one of the organisms intra-acting (Barad, 2003) with other organisms in a pedagogical event, paying attention to what we compose and generate together. In other words, interdisciplinary dialogue is necessary for new possibilities and relationalities. This makes interdisciplinarity a companion on thinking pedagogically because first, it puts in question our taken-for-granted way of practice and what is familiar, a linear path of following a principle of dichotomy that plays a repressive role in education. Second, it provides the opportunity to create otherwise, inventing and experimenting with what emerges from the interdisciplinary conversations.

For example, a few years ago, I worked on an inquiry project, Hello,Oopsie!, with educators and 3 to 5 year-old-children. Our Hello, Oopsie project presents what might be possible, what emerges, and what can become when we shift our pedagogical and ethical approach through interdisciplinary dialogue. The project was first initiated as educators shared their concerns about a fish who came to the center as a gift from a parent. The children were excited about the presence of the fish and showed a great deal of attention, and even gave him a name, Oopsie. The children gathered around Oopsie, watched him swim around the volcano in his little aquarium, observed his movements, and fed him. However, as time went by, their initial excitement and interest started to fade. Oopsie would still swim around in his little aquarium, as he has always done since he first came. Eventually, Oopsie’s aquarium had become more of a background or a decoration of the classroom. Oopsie was not recognized or remembered most of the time, and it seemed that no one was responsible for Oopsie being excluded. Only the educators paid attention to Oopsie from time to time for feeding and maintaining the freshwater. While the rest of the educators felt it was not a big deal since it happened pretty often, one of the educators expressed discomfort at how quickly Oopsie became invisible. This conflicting feeling towards Oopsie sparked a heated conversation among the educators concerning our relationship with Oopsie to human relationships with fish. 

We recognized that fish had been part of humans’ life for a long time, being bound together with the lives of other beings. We encounter fish in a dentist’s office, department store, restaurants, pet stores, streams, rivers, or oceans. It is impossible to disentangle and separate human and fish entangled lives here on the west coast. As Meyer (2010) writes, “we routinely consume and use as part of our daily experience. Everything that we come in contact with turns immediately into a condition of our existence” (p. 85). We recognized that these entangled relations with a fish called for more responsible and responsive pedagogy in our context. I often heard educators and practicum students saying, “we don’t want to continue on this because the children are not interested in the topic anymore” or “we are following children’s interests,” as if everything has to be based on what children want and their interests, rather than considering how our ethical responsibilities entangle with life and pedagogy, and name what is pedagogically and ethically valuable for pursuing. As a pedagogist, I thought it was essential to engage with the children-fish relationship to disrupt this child-centred pedagogy deeply embodied in early childhood education – and, I wanted to search otherwise for other ways of responding with Oopsie and his newfound neglect.

In that sense, the inquiry project with Oopsie was “to present a proposal intended not to say what is, or what ought to be, but to provoke thought” (Stengers, 2004, p. 994) in order to consider our (educator, student, child, community) ethical possibilities and responsibilities within this early childhood pedagogical context. This is what marks our project as a curriculum inquiry project and not a different kind of project: we paid attention to what emerged from encounters, connections, intra-actions, and situations that create otherness in curriculum, rather than relying on our prior knowledge or discovering an eternal truth about worlds. The inquiry with Oopsie was concerned with us in the process of mutual engagement and transformation as we affected and were being affected by everything else. More than anything, the presence of Oopsie provoked us to recognize and contest exclusions inherent in our relationships between human life and the lives of more than human agencies, reimagining inclusion, and thinking “beyond a celebration of individual children’s differences and individual children’s experience of awe and wonder” (Taylor, 2013, p. 78). Introducing the work of Affrica Taylor and Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw helped us to work hard to avoid to falling into doing something according to “prescribed moral codes” (Taylor & Pacini-Ketchabaw, 2019, p. 6) but to pay attention to ongoing relational practices with the fish and our children. In this inquiry project, we wondered what might happen if we think about Oopsie through the concepts of responsibility and responsiveness. We asked: what story(ies) we might be able to offer through our relations with the fish, challenging essentialist ethical norms and generating new forms of ethical responsibility beyond humans?

Todd (2015) argues that encounters with others (human and non-human alike) bring transformation in us. Acknowledging the interconnectedness of our lives to others, human and non-human like, we started our inquiry project with a question proposed by Todd (2015), “could we not start to rethink what it means to live well together without a blueprint of what counts as the common good’ produced prior to our actual encounters with others with whom we share the world?” (p. 54). 

In drawing attention to the trouble that existed with Oopsie as part of a curriculum inquiry, we encountered uncertainty and unknowability of where this would lead us related to our thinking of pedagogy and curriculum. We knew that, with Oopsie, our inheritances of representationalism, individualism, universalism, continuity, and consensus failed. We focused on how we might live differently with Oopsie in ways that offer new ethical possibilities in our pedagogical context. We turned to scholars both in and beyond curriculum theory, choosing who to think with by following how the provocations they offer might contribute to or complexify our pedagogical or curricular commitments. The quotes and questions from interdisciplinary scholars, such as Affrica Taylor, Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw, Gert Biesta, and Sharon Todd, called us to contemplate the specifics of how we would approach and respond to humans and more-than-humans relations, and to nourish pedagogies situated within everyday life interactions which broaden the possibilities of existing with others – a question that reciprocally grounds our curriculum inquiry work with educators, students, children,and families. 

Working as a PSI pedagogist means bringing transformation to our pedagogical life, committing to the creation of a space of plurality and difference where being different is not seen as inferior to what is dominant (constituted as normal) and of a space where the encounters with otherness and difference is a real possibility. However, working with plurality does not mean that all pluralities are good or worth pursuing; it is not about making collage or bricolage by just adding different pieces, which might make us fall into relativism that creates more isolation among ourselves. Instead, working with plurality means, as a pedagogist, placing a dialogue at the center of pedagogy. It is a process of sharing experience and being connected with other beings who cannot work without taking the liveliness of others into account. Concerning this, a pedagogist should pay attention to creating those situations in which one shares or participates in creating a shared pedagogical commitment. However, a shared understanding should not be seen as a condition for making collective commitments. It is not that we first need to come to a shared understanding, and only then can we begin to coordinate our actions for dedication. On the contrary, it is the dialogue and collaboration in motion that produces collective commitment.