Chapter 6 For the Birds

The Pedagogical Value of Drawing on Relationship-Focused Nature Writing

In: Ecocritical Perspectives in Teacher Education
Agnes C. Krynski
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In this chapter, I outline the contours of a pedagogical activity through which educators can invite participants to engage in ethical inquiry around topics relevant to a postanthropocentric educational practice. Three representative texts (easily substituted based on educators’ particular subject areas and teaching contexts if a cultural critique is discernable at the core of a potential text) form the basis of the exercise. By paying particular attention to the material and relational dimensions of literary texts, participants learn to stretch their inquiry repertoire by asking ethical questions about the variety of relationships that abound in the world. The proposed guided conversation practice combines a concern for the individually meaningful good life with the collective yearning to live in a just world. To that end, we picture in very concrete terms how our human and more-than-human paths cross. As part of a more comprehensive interest in the pedagogical value of contemporary nature writing, I also suggest that environmental storytelling as a genre relevant to educational practice can be read as a harbinger and catalyst for the ongoing larger transformation of cultural values.

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