How Noticing Becomes an Act of Reflection and Care

Maria Wysocki with Nicole Land

It has been quite a journey to observe and live with the children the relational ways that ‘masteries’ and ‘ownership’ come to happen with the yard, as we study its dynamic of movement and life collectively. We move and we notice, and vice-versa, in this environment that offers endless experiential moments in which we enlarge our understanding of who we are, how we move, and what disrupts our movements, shaping our experiences and understandings on intrinsic human – nature relations and dependencies.

Continue reading How Noticing Becomes an Act of Reflection and Care

Flipping Vehicles

Nicole Land thinking with Sanja Todorovic and Jajiba Chowdhury

We thought with the children with a provocation of flipping over the vehicles (so they were belly and tires up) to try to ‘get to know’ them differently, and to see what happens if we shake up the children and vehicle’s well-known pathways around the yard. Often, we have noticed, the children use the plastic vehicles on familiar pathways, running around a shelter in the yard. How might we notice how we communicate with/in movement if we intentionally try to disrupt our well-travelled pathways?

Continue reading Flipping Vehicles

Resisting Explaining

Nicole Land thinking with Angélique Sanders, Kassandra Rodriguez Almonte, and Angela Chow

Today we went to a walk with a steamy/sweaty/dripping/raining/foggy quad – it was this unexpected, unfamiliar phenomena where the quad seemed to trap the warm air after a rainstorm, filling the quad with a dense, heavy mist as though it was raining from all directions.

The “rain” caused us and the children who noticed it to stop, to ask “what just happened”, but not necessarily to seek a rational, science-driven water cycle/weather explanation, but to actually wonder: what just happened – what is this incredibly cool thing that this quad place can do, and how do I respond to it?

Continue reading Resisting Explaining

Grieving Cut Trees

Nicole Land thinking with Maria Wysocki, Selena Ha, Andrea Thomas, and Alicja Frankowski

Recently, there was a significant cutting of trees in the yard. Some of the trees we have thought very carefully with were removed.

As I was thinking about our relations to trees, I was reminded of Natasha Myers’ work. I’ve attached one very short article by her, called. For Myers (2017), “gardens are sites where it is possible to get a feel for the momentum that propels people to involve themselves with plants” (p. 297). She speaks about the human-centred ways we currently have of thinking about gardens: humans plan, design, and care for gardens; they are the master and primary care-er *for* a garden. Myers links that to the Anthropocene, which connects to our conversations about stewardship, as the talks about this assumption that humans can solve human-created problems by finding better fixes and pre-empting anticipated plant catastrophes (I’m thinking about the trees Andrea described getting cut down along her street in the name of preventing a parasite they didn’t even yet have).

Continue reading Grieving Cut Trees

Sliding, Blankets, and taking Pauses Seriously

Nicole Land thinking with Sanja Todorovic and Jajiba Chowdhury

After working to pay attention to how moving happened in communicative ways in the yard, we noticed that there seems to be something important happening with the slide. The playground has two side-by-side slides. We offered the children a provocation where we placed a blanket over one of the slides and we thought with the children about using half the blanket-covered slide. Jajiba and I were talking about the tensions in setting intentions for using the slide – when the children are interested in sliding with the blanket or taking it off of the slide, how do we balance that with sharing with them that our intention is to think together about using half the slide? How do we know when to push what our curiosities by ‘fixing’ the blanket on the slide (like, what happens when we use on side of the slide? Or, one slide is covered in the blanket – how can we use the other slide?) and when to notice how moving with the blanket is also a response to the provocation, also a way of the children engaging with the ‘problem’ we are offering them? I think that this is a question we need to keep negotiating with the children.

Continue reading Sliding, Blankets, and taking Pauses Seriously

What We Can and Cannot Notice

Nicole Land thinking with Maria Wysocki, Selena Ha, Andrea Thomas, and Alicja Frankowski

I’ve been thinking about what we can notice and what we cannot notice when we think with moving: in the yard, whose movements are acceptable or enjoyable or agreeable and whose movements are not? I am thinking about how our inherited ways of knowing movement call us to pay attention to certain movements. I’d suggest that we are taught to pay attention primarily to human movements and then also to particular sanctioned kinds of human movements (developmental skills, gross motor skills). I am thinking too about all of the movements in the yard that are part of living well together in the yard, but that we don’t often notice or sometimes we work not to notice. Like how we don’t often attune to rat movements or only get to know rat movements in certain ways (like dead rat bodies), but also other movements: tree movements, bark moving, snail moving. It’s harder to notice these movements. Thinking about our intentions to want to create conditions where we have to actually think about moving, I’d suggest that paying attention to these kinds of movements requires more work; we have to change how our own bodies move and shift how and what we notice. I think that this connects to thinking about getting to know moving in a particular place: how does a place (the yard) shape how moving happens? How do the conditions of the yard shape how we can notice moving? And the flip side of that question – how do the ways we notice moving shape how we create conditions for moving in the yard? 

Continue reading What We Can and Cannot Notice

Why Slow?

Nicole Land thinking with Angélique Sanders, Kassandra Rodriguez Almonte, and Angela Chow

We have been thinking about pausing and the hard, sometimes nearly painful, work of noticing carefully while walking (or being in a place) slowly. We thought too about how noticing draws us to other noticing – we have to respond in a moment-to-moment way, rather than knowing already what it is we might encounter and how we might engage with it. What I think has been interesting in our conversations is that we are thinking a lot about what slowing down looks like and demands: what does slowing down actually entail? If slowness is more than just a speed, how do we move slowly with the children?

Continue reading Why Slow?

Moving with Living and Dying

Nicole Land thinking with Maria Wysocki, Selena Ha, Andrea Thomas, and Alicja Frankowski

We’ve been thinking about rats and understanding the yard as a complex, lively, more-than-human world since yesterday – and this question of responding well, or moving well with, the common worlds of the playground; living with rats and bugs and the yard vs inheritances that tell us we need to control or manage the yard. There are, in this urban place, rats, chipmunks, racoons, bugs, and slugs. I’ve been thinking about this alongside our intentions to want to unsettle practices of ownership or commodification (and concurrent relations of comparison, status, competition). Why, and how, do we invent relations with the yard with children beyond ownership and property? What happens when we refuse to see the yard and its inhabitants, including critters and materials, as things we can control and own and occupy? How do we notice and respond with the yard without centering our inherited ideas of human exceptionalism and mastery and control? 

Continue reading Moving with Living and Dying

What is it to Notice Together?

Nicole Land thinking with Angélique Sanders, Kassandra Rodriguez Almonte, and Angela Chow,

I’ve been thinking about our beginning conversation about developmentalism and deeply entrenched discourses in the field – children as bounded individuals, promoting independence at all costs, thinking learning as a linear, discrete, step-based process. As a response, we are wondering how noticing while walking slow might be a strategy toward disrupting this; how noticing causes us to pay attention differently, to be differently implicated in a place. 

Continue reading What is it to Notice Together?

Figuring out how to Move Together

Nicole Land thinking with Maria Wysocki, Selena Ha, Andrea Thomas, and Alicja Frankowski

Maria shared a reflection about interrupting the children pulling paper out from the fence to ask the children WHY we might want to do this. This moment makes me think so much about the question of being thoughtful and intentional in moving: why are we moving the way we are? Why are we making the movement choices (and border choices) we are making? What in this place pulls our bodies to move in particular ways and not in others?

Continue reading Figuring out how to Move Together