It is an old, yet relevant, argument that education needs to focus more on real-world issues in students’ lives and communities. Nevertheless, conventional school curricula in many countries create superficial boundaries to separate natural and social worlds. A call for science learning approaches that acknowledge societal standpoints accumulate that human activities are driving environmental and evolutionary change which has lead scholars to investigate how different societies respond to environmental change.
Children and Mother Nature is a multilingual volume that represents indigenous knowledges from various ethnic, linguistic, geographical, and national groups of educators and students through storytelling. Authors have identified indigenous stories, fables, and folk tales with a theme of human-nature interaction and facilitated storytelling sessions with groups of students in K–8 grade (5–14 years old) in Turkey, Greece, US, Jamaica, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Chinese and Korean language speaking communities in the US. Students have discussed and rewritten/retold the stories collaboratively and illustrated their own stories. All student-told stories are presented in the original language along with an English translation. This volume provides authentic materials for teachers to use in their classrooms and could also be of interest to educational, literary, and environmental researchers to conduct comparative and international studies.
Rouhollah Aghasaleh, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral research associate at Georgia State University. His scholarship lays on an intersection of critical science education, cultural studies of curriculum, and new materialist feminism that addresses the issues of equity in teaching and learning.
“Children and Mother Nature is a groundbreaking volume that centers storytelling as a way of teaching and learning about our relationship with nature. It reminds many of us to revisit the stories, folktales, and proverbs that our elders told and reflect on the powerful and contextual lessons that they offered us about living well and relating to all beings on our planet. The international authors share folk stories in the original languages and text and offer English translations as a demonstration of valuing multiple languages and perspectives in science teaching and learning. Throughout the book the stories are complemented with descriptions of student engagements that include examples of children’s retellings, art and narratives of their lived experiences with the phenomena. This provides useful ideas for educators who wish to enact these stories with students in their own contexts. I was particularly thrilled to read ‘Anancy and Sorrel’ in the original patois (Creole English). It reconnected me to my heritage, my own experiences of making sorrel and was validating to see my mother’s language in a science text. This book provides a much-needed resource in science, environmental education, and children’s literature that disrupts the dominant narrative of the human/nature dualism and offers all of us different ways of knowing, being and relating to our planet. The Indigenous and ecological perspectives offered in this volume allow all of us, children and adults alike, to reimagine different ways of being on the planet and living well with All Our Relations.” – Jennifer D. Adams, Ph.D., University of Calgary, Canada, Urban Place-based and Environmental Educator and Canada Research Chair of Creativity and STEM
“Rouhollah has done an excellent job at persuading scholars and teachers from different parts of the world to share beautifully delineated portraits of traditional story telling in science classrooms. Here we see a brief but perceptive glimpse of the enormous wealth of indigenous knowledge that is housed in stories from different parts of the world and how this knowledge can be made available to the students. Further, given the fact that many of these stories and the chapters in this book come from parts that were till recently colonized by the West, we can also value this book as a worthy and rare example in science education world in which ‘the Empire writes back.’ That is, in this book we see postcolonial subjects writing back to their erstwhile colonial masters to challenge the traditional scientific discourse that has long been complicit in the colonization of the indigenous people all over the world. As I moved from one chapter to the next, I could hear the different voices from far corners of the earth telling the children and their teachers in the West how we can see reimagine the world in ways that can engender more hope for our collective future. Hearing this mellifluous polyphony rekindled hope in me. I hope this beautiful book does the same for you.” – Ajay Sharma, Ph.D., The University of Georgia, Author of
The Natural World and Science Education in the United States
“These powerful stories reveal what many indigenous people have known all along. Our relations with other-than-human beings can have a profoundly positive impact on our health and out sense of belonging in the in the world.” – Richard Louv, Author of Last Child in the Woods, The Nature Principle and Vitamin N
Table of contents
Foreword Ajay Sharma Acknowledgements List of Figures Notes on Contributors
Introduction Rouhollah Aghasaleh
"Nasreddin Hodja and Walnut Tree": A Turkish Indigenous Story about Human-Nature Interaction Zeynep Temiz, Guliz Karaarslan Semiz and Simge Yilmaz 2
From So Real to Sorrel: Anancy Storytelling, Jamaican Folk Tales, and the Grand Market Natalie S. King, Nadine Ebri and Ulett Williams 3
Yu the Great Managed the Flood Xiaoli Gong, Martina D. Booker, Janiya A. Brown, Gabrielle C. Mann and Alexander M. Gastfield 4
Retelling of the Magic Spring: A Preschool Perspective on Water, Greed, and the Human-Nature Relationship MinSoo Kim-Bossard, Lauren Madden, Louise Ammentorp and Tabitha Dell¡¯Angelo 5
Representing Cultural Values through Children¡¯s Stories: A Perspective from Saudi Arabia Amani K. H. Alghamdi and Ibtesam Hussain 6
"Yannis and the Forty Dragons": A Traditional Greek Folktale to Teach Environmental Awareness Nausica Kapsala, Apostolia Karagianni and Evangelia Mavrikaki 7
"The Theft of the Fire": Fostering Awareness about Indigenous Culture through a Gurani Myth Philipe Pereira Borba de Araujo and Marco Antonio Margarido Costa 8
Notes for Living on Planet Earth: Science, Self, and Society in Second Grade Dawnene D. Hassett, Steffenie Williams, Scott Enger, Marilee Cronin and John Porco
Glossary of Terms: Historical and Folklore Characters, Natural Phenomena, Geographical Locations, and Natural Resources
Classroom teachers to use in their classrooms, educational, literary, and environmental researchers to conduct comparative and international studies, and science teacher educators.