“What [might] it mean to shift from teaching children about nature, toward attending to the interdependencies, mutual vulnerabilities, and responsibilities between humans and nonhumans?”
Walking with children in a forest beside our school in Cuenca, Ecuador, we notice a fallen nest. Delicately woven by the beaks of ‘Diglossas’ (in English, ‘Flower Piercer’ birds), this prickly home is composed with carefully knotted fibers – fine sticks, cabuya grasses and plastic wrappers. Each piece is both incommensurable and indispensable. We wonder about what it might mean to find refuge in a shelter both comforting and toxic. Noticing the small woven architecture of the nest, Cristina is reminded of her family’s weaving traditions and she shares these memories with the children. Carrying these contradictory relations into the classroom, the inside space is curated into a ‘nesting room’ with grasses, plastics, needles, scissors and other materials prepared over a large woven rug for experimentations. Children and educators weave together over weeks into what becomes massive nest that holds them as they work. Throughout the school year, inside the nest educators and children continue in weaving processes, braiding together various ‘homes’ for animals of the forest using cabuya grasses and long plastic fibres. This provocation emerges after many months of pedagogical struggle, risk and experimentation by Cristina and Maria Paz, as they tried to compose spaces that speak with a post-developmental commitment to curriculum.
We imagine nest(ing) as a pedagogical invitation to notice the ways in which multiple materials and species come together in shared spaces – intensifying an attention to our interdependencies and accountabilities with/in damaged worlds. Nest(ing) proposes that we care for the ways in which seemingly contradictory materials might tangle together and, within the certain pedagogical conditions, create uncanny homes for others that continue survive in the plastic forest.
Alex Berry, Cristina Ochoa, Maria Paz Valenzuela