In our roles as pedagogical coordinators at Santana, we – Alex, Alicja and Adrianne – have been thinking together about pedagogical memory: how it is that some memories of the processes we have been part of become sticky and others slip away. We wonder how some images of this work stay vividly present and others are forgotten. To trace the movements and impermanences of these memories, we offer a series of micro-moments from our time(s) at Santana that speak to our collective pedagogical memory. We use the word ‘micro’ intentionally to highlight this conversation as a modest gesture that attends not to the grand or transcendental, but rather as Donna Haraway (2016) proposes, to a ‘thick present’ of something small and specific. We imagine these micro-moments as a provocation to defy linear time – that they are not only a recollection of what happened brought to the present to prepare for a future. We want to blur those dichotomies a bit, and propose a conversation about how little moments of the past continue to live in the present and to think, then, about what it is that we are doing with what we remember. We wonder, what happens when we make memory, when we hold on and attend to what seems to fade. What does pedagogical memory do?
In times of pedagogical uncertainty at Santana, it seems that memories and transient presences of developmental psychology grow more vivid – they have deeper roots and patterns that resurface. Often, they are tricksters and sneak in without notice. Other times we choose them, perhaps for the comfort of a familiar past or the illusion that a future in their name will secure us.
We want to ground this conversation in the commitments that have oriented this project since its beginnings. Santana has taken on a series of profound pedagogical shifts from dominantly Tayloristic and neoliberal logics hat often frame early childhood – particularly child centeredness and an image of the school as a container – divorced from the social and political forces of the place it is situated. Under these conditions, curriculum was something that was transcendental (not specific to Cuenca), predetermined and transmitted from adult to child. In imagining our educational project as a response to a particular moment in a particular place, we decided to begin bringing closer together outside and inside worlds through the aesthetics of our spaces, and to think intentionally about what materials might echo the colours or the shapes and shades that make the specificities of Cuenca. Then (and now) we encountered clay along the Cabogana as a generous – and as we learned, what is actually a depleting – material that enabled us to begin recuperating relations with the histories of Cuenca. We remember the long road to Santana from Cuenca’s centre that is lined with the houses of brickmakers and stacks of clay bricks, shingles and pottery – the ancestral memory of clay is already there, but somehow gets forgotten when pedagogical desire is solely for the progress of the child.
In the midst of a pedagogical project that has moved with radical speed and disruption, we notice that we are crafting new memory that overlaps with what was before – similar to the betweenness and transformative death/life of decay, as Alicja speaks to in her post. We are mingling with some memories that have longer legacies and histories here – particularly memories of developmental psychology that continue to seep into our thinking. We notice this especially in moments when we are lost, unsure or between things. We wonder if new memory is contingent on the old? Is it possible, or even desirable, to be so radical as to craft something that isn’t predicated on what was there before (Berry, Pollitt, Wintoneak, Nelson & Hodgins, in press)? How do we craft alternative pedagogical memories as we inherit and discern through the old? We wonder how particular memories live dormantly in various places and spaces of early childhood – in the classroom, at the playground, the forest – waiting to be remembered.
In this post, we want to generate a conversation that we hope offers a space to stay with the movements and tensions of remembering the work we have been labouring in over the past 3 years. In particular, we want to stir up a pedagogical memory that we think is required to enable a sustained commitment to the very specific kind of work that continues at Santana. As pedagogical coordinators, we have noticed the ephemeral quality of impermanence of this work together at Santana. Sometimes it feels so tangible – felt – present and other times it seems slippery – translucent – impalpable. We hope this conversation might trace our collective pedagogical memories – what is sticky, what falls beneath mention, what fades away (where does it go?), and what continues to mark us.
Alex, Alicja, Adrianne